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robertogreco : universality   29

You can't teach writing (and why would you want to?) | The Open School
"volunteering as an after-school tutor for 1st through 8th graders. The place was technically a writing center, situated in suburban Seattle, and open, free of charge, to any kid in the city. Its mission was to help kids learn to write, which would presumably improve their school performance and their prospects for life success.

I walked past that writing center today (I’m visiting Seattle this summer), and spent a moment reminiscing fondly. I remembered the always-warm atmosphere and the kind, helpful teachers. I remembered the fun activities and writing prompts.

Then I remembered why I left, and why I can never work or volunteer at such a place ever again. In the final months of my volunteership, my faith in the basic premise of the writing center faded. The founders of that organization, and the dedicated people who staffed it every day, had to believe wholeheartedly in two things. And I no longer believed in either of those things.

Here are the two necessary beliefs:

1. It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing.
2. Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable.

And here is why I don’t believe those things anymore.

Belief #1: It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing
Writing is hard. I suspect that people who seek writing instruction are feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty of the task and are looking for a way to make it easier — maybe some tips or tricks that the pros use which have somehow been kept secret from us plebeians. But there is no shortcut, no quick fix. There is only lots and lots of work.

A belief in the power of teaching shifts the responsibility for growth off of the learner and onto the teacher. This can only result in slacking on the learner’s part, frustration on the teacher’s part, and a bit of magical thinking to maintain the illusion of success in spite of perfect failure.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, offered this piece of advice:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Perhaps On Writing would have been a fine book even if King had left it at that. By reading a lot, you develop a sense for what good writing looks like and what bad writing looks like — just as a child learns her native language by listening to people talk a lot and learns to detect good grammar and bad grammar. She can’t define good grammar, but she knows it when she hears it.

Once you have that sense, you can start producing your own writing. You’re terrible at first, but now you know you’re terrible because you have that sense. Then you try it a different way and maybe it’s a little better, or maybe not. Then you read some more and refine your sense. Then you practice writing some more.

I suppose a writing teacher can provide prompts, but then again, so can a computer.

I’m reminded of this discouraging piece of wisdom from bestselling novelist Haruki Murakami:

“Being a novelist isn’t a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or even suggested that I be a novelist—in fact, some tried to stop me. I simply had the idea to be one, and that’s what I did.”

A person who loves and values writing will read a lot and write a lot on their own initiative. You don’t need to tell them to write and you certainly don’t need to make them. A person who doesn’t love or value writing will not write, and that’s that. Which brings us to belief #2…

Belief #2: Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable
I suspect that 9 out of 10 of the kids who attend that writing center do not really care about writing, or only care about writing text messages.

I suspect that their parents want them to care about writing, or want them to get good at writing despite not caring about it.

I know that the staff feel, as I do, that writing is the bomb! We love to write and we love to share our love of writing with kids.

But further, the staff believe, as I no longer believe, that writing is inherently, objectively, and universally interesting and valuable. They believe that if a kid doesn’t like writing, it is our job as teachers to inspire a love of writing within them — to awaken that dormant fire that must exist deep down in every person. This process of inspiration can be arduous and uncomfortable, as depicted in this cartoon (which was shared on Facebook by one of those teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week):

[image]

This cartoon is a feel-good fantasy for teachers. No kid has ever been inspired by being chased down and violated. Some kids discover a passion for writing and some don’t. Teachers like to seek validation by pointing to the kids who ultimately discovered a love of writing and saying, “That was me, I did that.” They rarely draw attention to the vastly more numerous kids who were not inspired.

We all have a tendency to feel as though our personal interests are shared by all of humanity. We want others to get excited about the things we get excited about. It’s a way of connecting with one another. We have to learn, by repeatedly butting up against the stubbornness of other people’s interests and values, that everyone is different.

And it’s good that everyone is different! Maybe I’m good at writing but someone else is good at speaking, and yet another person is good at presenting graphs and charts. There is no end to the variation. We compliment others’ weaknesses with our strengths.

I can never go back to that writing center because the very premise of the writing center is this: kids who don’t want to write should be manipulated into writing anyway. Manipulating people in that way has no appeal to me. I look at the above cartoon and imagine myself chasing down that poor kid and prying off his skull while he’s crying in pain and it makes me sick. I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with children.

It’s okay if a kid doesn’t like to write. And it’s okay if he does like to write. I have a notebook, a pen, and a stack of books that he can use anytime."
writing  openschool  aaronbrowder  teaching  teachingwriting  pedagogy  2018  howwewrite  universality  unschooling  deschooling  education  compulsion  compulsory  interest  interests  schooling  schooliness 
august 2018 by robertogreco
LIVING LABOR: “COLLECTIVE HEAD” on Vimeo
[See also: https://www.artandeducation.net/classroom/video/66316/fred-moten-collective-head

"Critical theorist, educator, and poet Fred Moten delivers a keynote at the 2014 conference “Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies” at the Performance Studies department at New York University. The talk is within the closing plenary at the conference that is dedicated to the late José Esteban Muñoz—a colleague and comrade of many of the conference participants. Accordingly, the last third of Moten’s reflections address Muñoz’s thought on queer futurity and its immanence in the present. In line with the title, taken from Lygia Clark’s 1975 performance Cabeza colectiva, the talk is constructed in the form of a prismatic dialogue. Moten quotes extensively from the writings of Masao Miyoshi and Karl Marx to establish his main lines of inquiry: what would be a materialization of social wealth that was not circumscribed by forms of property and the drive to accumulate? Here, Moten calls on Marx’s description in the Grundrisse of how the contemporary mode of production elaborates human potentiality by, paradoxically, emptying it out: “the complete working-out of the human content appears as a complete emptying-out, this universal objectification as total alienation, and the tearing-down of all limited, one-sided aims as sacrifice of the human end-in-itself to an entirely external end.” How can we imagine the common as that which is “before”—in time and in space, that is, behind as well as in front—and which surrounds us even as our social structures cast it out, as an externality or as a periphery? How could architecture find itself “re-materialized” through the encounter with the “space outside” and all those who inhabit it? As Craig Buckley has written, “the surfaces of daily life [come] to appear as traces of largely unseen apparatuses whose implications architecture still struggles to grasp.” Moten asks what comes after a modernism that strove to accommodate the city’s outside—the poor—however imperfectly, in an era when social housing is seen not “as an object of planning but an object of demolition”?

The aesthetic dimension of anti-coloniality as an ongoing mode of resistance in contemporary life, its “sentimentality,” is developed as counter to critical fascination with power and its bleak anatomies, a thread that could be considered definitive to Moten’s work. The necessity of getting lost, of unmooring from the property-form of subjectivity, is seen as central to queer futurity, which exists by displacement. Loss is the instantiation of another condition of possibility, notes Moten in an affecting tribute to both the work of José Esteban Muñoz and his living absence.

Fred Moten has developed a singular body of work in the terrain of black studies, focusing mainly on African-American literature, music and performance, and weaving that with critical (race) theory and Marxism in the “black radical tradition” (Cedric Robinson). He teaches at University of California, Riverside and Duke University and is the author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, with Stefano Harney (Minor Compositions, 2013), and numerous books of poetry."]
fredmoten  2014  lygiaclark  comunes  karlmarx  personhood  citizenship  masaomiyoshi  class  barbarabrowning  underground  collectivism  universality  wealth  poverty  cities 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Movement Pedagogy: Beyond the Class/Identity Impasse - Viewpoint Magazine
"Ellsworth had studied critical pedagogy carefully and incorporated it into her course, which she called Curriculum and Instruction 607: Media and Anti-racist Pedagogies. She describes the diverse group of students it drew, including “Asian American, Chicano/a, Jewish, Puerto Rican, and Anglo European men and women from the United States, and Asian, African, Icelandic, and Canadian international students.” This diverse context seemed ideal for engaging in critical pedagogy. And yet, problems arose as soon as the class began.

When invited to speak about injustices they had experienced and witnessed on campus, students struggled to communicate clearly about racism. They had a hard time speaking and listening to one another about the main subject of the course. Rather than dialogue providing grounds for solidarity, “the defiant speech of students and professor…constituted fundamental challenges to and rejections of the voices of some classmates and often the professor.” Ellsworth began to question the limitations of an approach to dialogue that assumes “all members have equal opportunity to speak, all members respect other members’ rights to speak and feel safe to speak, and all ideas are tolerated and subjected to rational critical assessment against fundamental judgments and moral principles.” These assumptions were not bearing out in her classroom due to the vastly different histories, experiences, and perspectives of those in the room.

There was difficulty, pain, and deadlock in communicating about the social structure of the university, a deadlock that fell along classed, racial, gendered and national lines. Like a broken window, fissures between the experiences and perspectives of Ellsworth and her students formed cracks, which then caused more cracks, until no one could see each other clearly.

Contrary to critical pedagogy’s promise of liberation through dialogue, Ellsworth’s classroom was filled with uncomfortable silences, confusions, and stalemates caused by the fragmentation. The students and professor could not achieve their stated goal of understanding institutional racism and stopping its business-as-usual at the university. She recalls that
[t]hings were not being said for a number of reasons. These included fear of being misunderstood and/or disclosing too much and becoming too vulnerable; memories of bad experiences in other contexts of speaking out; resentment that other oppressions (sexism, heterosexism, fat oppression, classism, anti-Semitism) were being marginalized in the name of addressing racism – and guilt for feeling such resentment; confusion about levels of trust and commitment about those who were allies to one another’s group struggles; resentment by some students of color for feeling that they were expected to disclose more and once again take the burden of doing pedagogic work of educating White students/professor about the consequences of White middle class privilege; resentment by White students for feeling that they had to prove they were not the enemy.

The class seemed to be reproducing the very oppressive conditions it sought to challenge. As they reflected on these obstacles, Ellsworth and her students decided to alter the terms of their engagement. They replaced the universalism of critical pedagogy, in which students were imagined to all enter dialogue from similar locations, with a situated pedagogy that foregrounded the challenge of working collectively from their vastly different positions. This shift completely altered the tactics in the course. Rather than performing the teacher role as an emancipatory expert presumed able to create a universal critical consciousness through dialogue, Ellsworth became a counselor, helping to organize field trips, potlucks, and collaborations between students and movement groups around campus. These activities helped to build relations of trust and mutual support without presuming that all students entered the classroom from the same position. Rather than holding class together in a traditional way, Ellsworth met with students one on one, discussing particular experiences, histories, and feelings with them, talking through these new activities.

As trust began to form out of the morass of division, students created affinity groups based on shared experiences and analyses. The groups met outside of class to prepare for in-class meetings, which “provided some participants with safer home bases from which they gained support…and a language for entering the larger classroom interactions each week.” The affinity groups were a paradigm shift. The class went from a collection of atomized individuals to a network of shared and unshared experiences working in unison. Ellsworth writes that, “once we acknowledged the existence, necessity, and value of these affinity groups we began to see our task as…building a coalition among multiple, shifting, intersecting, and sometimes contradictory groups carrying unequal weights of legitimacy within the culture of the classroom. Halfway through the semester, students renamed the class Coalition 607.” Ellsworth describes this move from fragmentation to coalition as coming together based on what the group did not share, rather than what they did share. Ultimately the class generated proposals for direct action to confront structural inequalities at the university.

Why doesn’t this feel empowering?

In 1989, Ellsworth published her now-famous article reflecting on the Coalition 607 experience. Provocatively entitled, “Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy,” she used her experiences in this course to critique what she saw as a universalist model of voice, dialogue and liberation embedded within the assumptions of critical pedagogy. At the heart of this problem was a failure to recognize the fact that students do not all enter into dialogue on equal terrain. Instead, the social context of the classroom – like any other – is shaped by the very unequal histories and structures that critical pedagogy seeks to address. Thus, the idea that Ellsworth and her students might set aside their differences in order to tackle institutional racism on campus proved naive, and even harmful. Instead, it was through a pedagogical shift to coalition that they were ultimately able to build collective action. These actions were rooted not in claims of universality, but in a commitment to building solidarity across structural divisions.

Ellsworth’s story offers useful lessons for contemporary movement debates – debates that are often framed around an apparent dichotomy of class universalism versus identity politics. The question, “why doesn’t this feel empowering?” gestures toward the subtle (and not-so-subtle) processes of exclusion that occur within many movement spaces, where the seemingly neutral terms of debate obscure the specific perspectives that guide our agendas, strategies, and discussions. As Peter Frase notes, “appeals to class as the universal identity too often mask an attempt to universalize a particular identity, and exclude others.” Yet, Ellsworth and her students did not simply retreat into separate corners when these divisions flared; instead, they rethought the terms of their engagement in order to develop strategies for working together across difference. It was by thinking pedagogically about organizing that Ellsworth and her students arrived at a strategy of coalition."



"Ellsworth’s coalition – what we call thinking pedagogically about organizing – is an example of how to get to the imagined relation that dissolves the alleged impasse between class struggle and identity politics: thinking pedagogically creates an ideology of coalition rather than an ideology of impasse.

We can apply this insight from classrooms to activist spaces by examining a recent proposal adopted by the Democratic Socialists of America. At the national convention in August 2017, DSA members debated a controversial resolution calling for a rigorous program of organizer trainings. “Resolution #28: National Training Strategy” proposed to train “some 300 DSA members every month for 15 months” with the goal of ultimately producing “a core of 200 highly experienced trainers and 5,000 well trained leaders and organizers to carry forward DSA’s work in 2018 and beyond.” The proposal asked delegates to devote a significant amount of DSA’s national funds ($190,000) toward creating this nationwide activist training program, which includes modules on Socialist Organizing and Social Movements and Political Education.

The resolution emerged from a plank of the Praxis slate of candidates for the National Political Committee. On their website, the slate described this “National Training Strategy” in detail, emphasizing the importance of teaching and learning a “wide array of organizing skills and tactics so members develop the skills to pursue their own politics” (emphasis in original). Noting that “Poor and working people – particularly people of color – are often treated as external objects of organizing,” this educational strategy explicitly sought to use positionality as a strength. They elaborate: “If DSA is serious about building the power of working people of whatever race, gender, citizen status or region, we must re-build the spine of the Left to be both strong and flexible.” Aware that DSA members would be coming from a variety of positions, the slate made education a central plank of their platform. Members pursuing “their own politics” based on their precise structural location would create a flexible and strong spine for left politics. They write: “It’s not just the analysis, but also the methods of organizing that we pursue which create the trust, the self-knowledge, and the solidarity to make durable change in our world.”

While we can’t know for sure how the training strategy will work out, we highlight the resolution as an … [more]
criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  2017  davidbacker  katecairns  solidarity  collectiveaction  canon  affinitygroups  affinities  salarmohandesi  combaheerivercollective  coalition607  via:irl  elizabethellsworth  currymalott  isaacgottesman  henrygiroux  paulofreire  stanleyaronowitz  petermclaren  irashor  joekincheloe  trust  commitment  resentment  vulnerability  conversation  guilt  privilege  universalism  universality  dialogue  peterfrase  empowerment  repression  organizing  organization  identity  coalition  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  identitypolitics  azizchoudry  socialmovements  change  changemaking  praxis  dsa  socialism  education  learning  howwelearn  politics  activism  class  race  stuarthall  articulation  ernestolaclau  plato  johnclarke  fragmentation  generalities 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Antarctica World Passport
"BECOME A WORLD CITIZEN
- To act in favour of sustainable development through simple, daily acts
- To defend natural environments under threat, as a global public resource
- To fight against climate change generated by human activity
- To support humanitarian actions aiding displaced peoples of the world
- To share values of peace and equality
The Antarctica World Passport is a universal passport for a continent without borders, common good of humanity. Climate change has no borders."



"Lucy Orta and Jorge Orta are internationally renowned artists who have been working in partnership at Studio Orta since 1992. Their collaborative practice explores the major concerns that define the 21st century: biodiversity, sustainability, climate change, and exchange among peoples. The artists realise major bodies of work employing drawing, sculpture, photography, video and performances in an endeavour to use art to achieve social justice. Their work is the focus of exhibitions in major contemporary art museums around the world and can be found in international public and private collections."



"ANTARCTICA WORLD PASSEPORT

In 1995, Lucy + Jorge Orta present the Antarctica World Passport concept at the XLVI Biennale di Venezia in Italy. And in 2007, they finally embark on an expedition to Antarctica to install their ephemeral installation Antarctic Village – No Borders and raise the Antarctic Flag, a supranational emblem of human rights.

NO BORDERS

Through the Antarctica project, the artists explore the underlying principles of the of the Antarctic peace treaty, as a symbol of the unification of world citizens. The continent’s immaculate environment the village embodies all the wishes of humanity and spreads a message of hope to future generations.

In 2008, the first printed edition of the Antarctica World Passport was produced for an important survey exhibition of the artist’s work at the Hangar Bicocca centre for contemporary art in Milan, Italy.

Through the worldwide distribution of Antarctica World Passport the artists have created a major socially engaging and participative art project."

[See also:
https://www.studio-orta.com/en/artworks/serie/12/Antarctica
https://www.studio-orta.com/en/artwork/301/Antarctica-World-Passport
https://www.studio-orta.com/en/artwork/589/Antarctica-World-Passport-Delivery-Bureau-COP21-Grand-Palais
http://sustainable-fashion.com/blog/antarctica-world-passport/
http://www.antarcticaworldpassport.com/bundles/antarcticafront/pdf/passport.pdf
http://estore.arts.ac.uk/product-catalogue/london-college-of-fashion/centre-for-sustainable-fashion/antarctica-world-passport
passports  art  antarctica  lucyorta  jorgeorta  studioorta  2008  classideas  mibility  global  international  borders  climatechange  sustainability  humans  humanism  universality  humanity  1995  2007  antarctic 
november 2017 by robertogreco
What Does It Mean to Become Californian? – Boom California
"What does it mean to become Californian? It means being witness to an epic bender—a 169-year binge lubricated by gold, cattle, wheat, oil, suburban housing, the Cold War, and a marketing campaign of seductive power. At every stage of its history, each of the state’s exploitable ecologies has been dressed up as another paradise, pandering to the latest wave of hopelessly intoxicated newcomers. The come-on that seduced them—the elemental promises of health, wealth, and happiness in the sunshine—is the California Dream. For Joan Didion, the state’s renowned exile, there is in that dream a “dangerous dissonance…a slippage” between what we desire and who we are.1

The official story of California is told as a pageant of bonanzas, but belief in the official story requires forgetting so much. We want the story to record what had been hard won, but it’s actually full of lucky accidents. We bought the Californian sales pitch, but we became remorseful buyers afterward. We want to be Californian, but we don’t want to earn it.

These paradoxes were built into the subdivisions that absorbed thirteen million dream seekers between 1940 and 1970—the great years when California retailed to America its mix of Arcadian ease and technocratic élan. The greatest paradox is, of course, that the success in getting so much from California has been turned into so much loss. Californians tend to use the state’s compromised environment as the screen on which to project what they can no longer find in California—something missing from becoming Californian—and the suburbs, the traffic, and the presence of too many of us are said to be the cause. But perhaps what Californians can no longer find is in themselves, in what they lost by becoming Californian. We forget that the California Dream didn’t come with a moral compass.

I cannot say that the dream did not serve us. It provided the goods of a middle-class life to millions, including me. It remixed popular culture in exciting ways. It built beautiful and lasting things—and the dream still inspires. A neighbor of mine—with a tract house, two grown daughters, and a husband who is a teacher—wonders if it means anything to say that the dream is ending. “They’ve been saying that for thirty years at least. It hasn’t ended yet,” she told me.

Kevin Starr has written nine volumes of history about California and America’s feverish dream of it, and in 2009 he hadn’t yet reconciled whether California would become a “failed state” or would reinvent itself again, and if reinvention would be another arc of boom to bust to regret. Starr’s faith was in the state’s genetic and cultural rambunctiousness and the possibility that a retooled dream, suitable for a less-Anglo California, will replace the parts of the dream that served us so poorly. But Starr, like many of us, had his doubts.

***

What does it mean to become Californian? It means seeing nature without romance or despair. California has been uniquely intoxicating, but it was also a place on the national periphery in the nineteenth century and far from the familiar place where hearts might feel at home. Merchandising the state’s natural grandeur answered some of Californian longing. From William Henry Jackson in the 1870s through Ansel Adams in the 1950s to the latest coffee-table book, California has produced gorgeous and misleading environmental photography, promoting the view that sacred wildness is out there, unmarred by our presence and ready for our contemplation.

The iconic photographs make the rapturous assumption that none of us was ever here——but we were! We’re sluicing mountains into rivers to get at the gold, taking down forests to build a wood and iron technology gone before our parents were born, erecting groves of derricks over oil fields, extracting harvests from the compliant ground, and assembling communities from tract houses and strip malls. I’m tired of my own sentimentality for landscapes that are rendered either as an open wound or a throat pulled back, ready for the knife. Pity is misplaced if there is no place in it for you or me.

The choice for Californians north and south after the Gold Rush cataclysm was not between nature and its despoiled remnant, but the terms on which our encounter with nature would be framed. The environmentalist John Muir gave nature a privileged autonomy, a kind of green divinity. Frederick Law Olmsted, a builder of New York’s Central Park, concluded that nature in California would never again be sublime, despite what the photographs implied, and that nature must be enmeshed in the community of people living here. Olmsted struggled for a word to describe the tie that might bind a place and its people. He settled on “communitiveness.” It’s an awkward word for something that tries to define both loyalty to one’s neighbors and trusteeship of the land. Olmsted, as Muir and others did, sought to read a redemptive narrative—and something of the wider American experience—into the landscape of California. The Californians who were led here by their longing for the redeeming qualities Muir and Olmsted saw in California’s nature—qualities variously ennobling, consoling, and therapeutic—unalterably changed California.

***

Californians had presumed that California would always deliver whatever they deserved. Now we know California can’t. Even more self-knowledge is needed, now that our revels are ended. If we are to become brave, new Californians, we will begin to dream differently."

What does it mean to become Californian? It means finding that California is increasingly ordinary (for which I’m grateful, because the commonplace is necessarily the place where we find love and hope). But if California isn’t the “great exception,” isn’t the best or worst of places, then how do we describe California when it is not exactly “Californian” anymore, not as alluring or lurid as the clichés of the utopian or dystopian accounts said it was? California is riven—north and south, coastal and inland, urban and rural, valley and foothill—but that which unites these “islands on the land” is the question of what had been gained by becoming Californian.

For Joan Didion, becoming Californian was a prize for leaving the past behind, although the result would be brokenheartedness. For essayist Richard Rodriguez, becoming Californian meant becoming mingled, impure, heterogeneous, and discovering that your color, whatever it is, is just another shade of brown. For the novelist and playwright William Saroyan, becoming Californian was to see this place, finally, as “my native land.” For the two million or more Californians who, in the past two decades, have migrated to “greater California”—which is now located in Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada—becoming Californian meant finding some measure of inadequacy in California. Maybe becoming Californian means laboring to undo the toxic effects of what California has been: a commodity, a trophy of Anglo privilege, and a place of aching, unmet desires.

The Anglo possessors of California after 1847 took on habits that began with the first gold claim staked on the American River and continue each time a house lot changes hands today. Imagine considering those habits with a “truth and reconciliation” commission whose members are a skateboarder, a “mow and blow” gardener, a rap artist, a real estate agent, a vintner, a Gabrieleño elder, a Chinese immigrant, and someone employed in the adult entertainment industry. Maybe becoming Californian means facing a ravenous “hunger of memory”2 and having only California’s clichés to offer.

***

What does it mean to become Californian? It means locating yourself, according to environmental historian Stephanie Pincetl, in a panorama that includes Hollywood, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Big Sur, San Francisco, Disneyland, the redwoods, and Death Valley.3 She might have added Compton, Route 99 from Fresno to Bakersfield, the Silicon Valley, the San Fernando Valley, the Central Valley, and the whole of la frontera from Yuma to the Tijuana. Pincetl included in her list the seductive mirage of El Dorado, the folly that led to all of the state’s ruined paradises. An imagination so spacious as to dwell in all of these Californias requires a different kind of intelligence, attuned to many vernaculars. The alternative is living daily with the experience of estrangement, discontinuity, and forgetfulness.

Californians who need something to stand with them against these disorders might find it in Michel Foucault’s notion of “a particular, local, regional knowledge, a differential knowledge incapable of unanimity.”4 The desire to sustain “ecologies of the vernacular” and live in “habitats of memory” may be the new requirement for becoming Californian.

Foucault distantly echoes Josiah Royce’s notion of a Higher Provincialism,5 which finds the potential for moral order in a shared sense of place and in the common habits of being there. This embodied knowledge becomes “critical regionalism”6 in turning away from the comforts of nostalgia toward “interrogating the local and proximate precisely in order to demonstrate its universality, its connectedness, and its differences with the wider world.”7

California happened to the world in 1849, and in the rush to extract something from becoming Californian, the world—in the form of every race and ethnicity—met itself here.8 The meeting was chaotic, brutal, often tragic, and sometimes redemptive, and its energies are not yet spent. For all its potential to create a hybrid American (and, I believe, a better one), the collision left Californians haunted by the spirit of El Dorado—the illusion that being Californian requires being perpetually the object of someone else’s desire.

To become truly Californian, dwellers here will recover from that malign dream to “awaken the stories that sleep in … [more]
california  future  djwaldie  kevinstarr  2017  foucault  josiahroyce  universality  connectedness  difference  diversity  change  history  stephaniepincetl  joandidion  fredericklawolmstead  nature  landscape  johnmuir  goldrush  williamhenryjackson  richardrodriguez  ordinariness  inadequacy  race  ethnicity  commonplace  everyday  michelfoucault 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Chirologia, or The Natural Language of the Hand (1644) | The Public Domain Review
"Is gesture a universal language? When lost for words, we point, wave, motion and otherwise use our hands to attempt to indicate meaning. However, much of this form of communication is intuitive and is not generally seen to be, by itself, an effective substitution for speech.

John Bulwer (1606 – 1656), an English doctor and philosopher, attempted to record the vocabulary contained in hand gestures and bodily motions and, in 1644, published Chirologia, or the Naturall Language of the Hand alongside a companion text Chironomia, or the Art of Manual Rhetoric, an illustrated collection of hand and finger gestures that were intended for an orator to memorise and perform whilst speaking.

For Bulwer, gesture was the only from of speech that was inherently natural to mankind, and he saw it as a language with expressions as definable as written words. He describes some recognisable hand gestures, such as stretching out hands as an expression of entreaty or wringing them to convey grief, alongside more unusual movements, including pretending to wash your hands as a way to protest innocence, and to clasp the right fist in the left palm as a way to insult your opponent during an argument. Although Bulwer’s theory has its roots in classical civilisation, from the works of Aristotle, he was inspired by hundreds of different works, including biblical verses, medical texts, histories, poems and orations, in order to demonstrate his conclusions.

The language of gesture proved a popular subject in the age of eloquence, and inspired many similar works. Bulwer’s work was primarily meant for the pulpit, but also had applications for the stage. Although we do not know if these hand gestures were ever used by public speakers as they were intended, there is some evidence of the book’s impact on popular culture. Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy (completed in 1767) features characters who clasp their hands together in the heat of argument, one who dramatically holds his left index finger between his right thumb and forefinger to signal a dispute, and another who folds his hands as a gesture of idleness.

This was not the end for the Chirologia, however. Some years after publishing the book, Bulwer became one of the first people in England to propose educating deaf people. Although the link to deaf studies seems evident, the Chirologia only makes passing reference to deafness, but this nevertheless may have inspired Bulwer’s further research in the area, and how fingerspelling and gesture can be used as a form of communication in themselves. The hand shapes described in the Chirologia are still used in British Sign Language today."

[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/801582488896290821 ]
gestures  1644  books  hands  chirologia  communication  signlanguage  johnbulwer  universality  meaning  expression  speech 
november 2016 by robertogreco
a16z Podcast: The Meaning of Emoji 💚 🍴 🗿 – Andreessen Horowitz
"This podcast is all about emoji. But it’s really about how innovation really comes about — through the tension between standards vs. proprietary moves; the politics of time and place; and the economics of creativity, from making to funding … Beginning with a project on Kickstarter to crowd-translate Moby Dick entirely into emoji to getting dumplings into emoji form and ending with the Library of Congress and an “emoji-con”. So joining us for this conversation are former VP of Data at Kickstarter Fred Benenson (and the 👨 behind ‘Emoji Dick’) and former New York Times reporter and current Unicode emoji subcommittee member Jennifer 8. Lee (one of the 👩 behind the dumpling emoji).

So yes, this podcast is all about emoji. But it’s also about where emoji fits in the taxonomy of social communication — from emoticons to stickers — and why this matters, from making emotions machine-readable to being able to add “limbic” visual expression to our world of text. If emoji is a (very limited) language, what tradeoffs do we make for fewer degrees of freedom and greater ambiguity? How exactly does one then translate emoji (let alone translate something into emoji)? How do emoji work, both technically underneath the hood and in the (committee meeting) room where it happens? And finally, what happens as emoji becomes a means of personalized expression?

This a16z Podcast is all about emoji. We only wish it could be in emoji!"
emoji  open  openstandards  proprietarystandards  communication  translation  fredbenenson  jennifer8.lee  sonalchokshi  emopjidick  mobydick  unicode  apple  google  microsoft  android  twitter  meaning  standardization  technology  ambiguity  emoticons  text  reading  images  symbols  accessibility  selfies  stickers  chat  messaging  universality  uncannyvalley  snapchat  facebook  identity  race  moby-dick 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The 'Not Face' Is Universally Understood - D-brief
"When your boss strolls up to your desk at 5 p.m. on a Friday and asks you to work on Saturday, your facial expression tells the whole story. And, according to a new study from researchers at Ohio State University, no matter if your boss comes from Nigeria, Nepal or Nebraska, the look on your face will still come across loud and universally clear.

How Many Ways to Say No?

The study, led by Aleix Martinez, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at OSU, looked at the facial expressions of 158 students with a range of native languages as they expressed “I don’t want to.”

Speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL) were filmed while reciting a sentence with a negative valence, or responding to a question that they were likely to disagree with. The researchers manually selected the telltale signs of what they called the “Not Face” — furrowed brows, raised chin and compressed lips — from the images and set a computer algorithm to work sorting out “Not Faces” from others. They published their results Monday in the journal Cognition.

The Universally Understood ‘Not Face’

They found that the “Not Faces” appeared with the same frequency as spoken syllables, indicating that it was a genuine mode of communication, as opposed to a random occurrence. What’s more, the expression translated almost perfectly across languages, implying that the genesis of this particular expression extends far back into the past. While our words may differentiate us, our expressions remain a global unifier.

Martinez has done research into facial expressions before. In a 2014 study, he categorized 21 unique emotions, including “happily disgusted,” and “sadly angry,” for use in cognitive analysis. The new research builds on his previous findings by definitively linking a facial expression to language. While most of us recognize nonverbal modifiers with ease, proving that one of these modifiers exists across cultures and languages will allow for more accurate facial recognition software, as well as insights into the beginnings of communication and language.

Words and sentences make up only a part of human communication — anyone who has ever succeeded in obtaining directions in a foreign country by sole use of hand movements can attest. These arm-flailing conversations may look ridiculous, but they nevertheless succeed in getting the basic concept across. Even in normal conversation, our faces and bodies convey subtle shades of nuance that can add up to distinctly alter the meaning of a sentence.

Crucial for Sign Language

In certain languages, the unspoken cues hold much more significance. Sign language, for example, is based off of hand and body movements, but also relies heavily on a diverse array of facial expressions. For proof, look no further than ASL translator Lydia Callis, who became an Internet sensation during Hurricane Sandy for her virtuosic use of facial expressions while signing about the impending storm.

In his study, Martinez found that ASL users also deploy the “Not Face,” but do so to even greater effect than verbal language users. While those speaking English, Spanish and Chinese used the expression to strengthen the stated emotion, ASL users would replace the sign for “not” entirely, using only the “Not Face” to convey the same statement.

Martinez says that this is the first documented instance of ASL speakers completely replacing a word with a facial expression. Such a discovery highlights the crucial role facial expressions play in fully communicating how we feel to others.

Martinez hopes to expand his library of faces by teaching computer algorithms to recognize different expressions without the need for manual selection. Once they have that ability, he plans to use thousands of hours of YouTube videos to train them and hopefully compile a database of human expressions.

Such a database of expressions might be of interest to robots like Sophia, whose accurate but still creepy impressions made headlines at this year’s SXSW."
asl  expression  communication  via:anne  2016  disagreement  aleixmartinez  spanish  español  mandarin  negativevalence  notface  translation  universality  signlanguage  signing 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Senongo Akpem - Responsiveness, being a chameleon - Video Archive - The Conference by Media Evolution
""In an increasingly global world we need design that is culturally responsive."

Senongo Akpem, Senior Designer at Cambridge University Press, talks about culturally responsive design. Senongo discuss how cultural variables can affect our perception, and how to build visual and cultural diversity into design in a thoughtful (and occasionally subversive) way."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:0f1362374ca1 ]
senongoakpem  2015  culturalresponsiveness  highcontext  lowcontext  culture  design  webdev  webdesign  2013  ambiguity  directness  collectivism  individuality  power  relationships  powerrelationships  authority  slow  fast  messaging  speed  communication  difference  adapting  adaptation  universality  context  inequality  fastmessaging  slowmessaging  fastmessages  slowmessages  gov.uk  individualism  appropriation  punchingup  truthtopower  yinkashonibare 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Questioning the Conformity Curve | bavatuesdays
"The folks involved in Cal State University, Channel Islands’s domains project known as CI Keys, wrote a series of really thoughtful posts about the projects from a variety of vantage points. Michelle Pacansky-Brock wrote about the project as a catalyst for teaching on the open web. Jill Leafstedt wrote about the possibilities for faculty at CSU to create connected learning spaces for their courses. Jaimie Hoffman breaks down lessons learned after a year of building numerous classes out using CI Keys. And Michael Berman offers a broader rationale as to why an investment in CI Keys made sense. I love that each of them explained the impact of this pilot through their own lens, and it captures a nice cross-section of the possibilities and limits of such an initiative.

One of the things I think Berman totally nails is the willingness to question the adoption curve of a project like CI Keys. He notes the following:
I am coming to question the usefulness of the innovation diffusion curve in Ed Tech. First of all there’s an implicit value judgment that early adopters are better than late adopters – not to mention the infamous laggards. Not all technology adoption is useful, to say the least, and some is downright harmful. Second, why is success measured as universal adoption? If 20% of the faculty at my campus find CI Keys to be a useful and even transformational tool for encouraging student learning, does that necessarily mean that the other 80% are missing something by not using it? Perhaps, but I’m not so sure. It’s nice to think that we can provide a single tool for everyone to use but we can see where that’s gotten us. Instead, some will use institutional tools, some will use open source, some will use commercial tools, and faculty and students will use different tools (really, media) to accomplish different things. Is that hard from an ed tech support position? No doubt! But I think that’s the world we live in, not one where we always think in terms of scale-up and universal adoption – that ship has sailed.

I can’t possibly have said it better, and it really frames beautifully the predicament at many campuses. Someone throws out the stat that 85% of faculty are using the LMS and the conversation stops there. The various constituents who need resources beyond the LMS are poorly served, if at all. The adoption curve is actually a conformity curve used to justify supporting fewer and fewer tools on campus. So what should be seen as a pretty basic resource like web hosting/publishing are all but absent on many campuses. As Brian Lamb noted in the “Reclaiming Innovation” piece for EDUCAUSE Review:
…institutional leaders may refuse to support alternative systems….lest they draw attention and users away from the “serious” enterprise learning tool, diverting resources and endangering investments. If a technology is sufficiently large and complex, it can dictate policy, resource allocation, and organizational behavior far beyond its immediate application.

And the investment-based logic that can breed an aversion to alternatives often fails to comprehend that they’re not only significantly cheaper than any given system, but often complementary to that system. So, rather than endangering investments, it provides alternatives that make the system that much less monolithic. What’s more, it serves a portion of a campus community that has been forced to fend for themselves for almost a decade.
jimgroom  technology  toolbelttheory  2015  brianlamb  michaelberman  education  adomainofone'sown  cikeys  jaimiehoffman  michellepacansky-brock  jillleafstedt  universality  lms  complexity  diversity  onesizefitsall  edtech  via:audreywatters 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination | thenerdsofcolor
"There should be word for the exhilaration of a half-success coupled with the glowing disappointment of the half-failure, that two-sided coin. People who don’t speak German would say that there must be a long-ass German word for it. There isn’t, but German has the virtue of allowing someone to make a half-assed attempt at coining it. Ehrgeitzversagensschoene? I mention this, because this is one of the primary failures of the show: it attaches itself to Americans’ perceptions of how things are in other idioms, as much as, or more than, it attaches to how things actually are.

To put it plainly: Sense8’s depiction of life in non-western countries is built out of stereotypes, and of life in non-American western countries is suffused with tourist-board clichés. The protagonist in Nairobi is a poor man whose mother has AIDS and whose life is ruled by gangs; in Mumbai we have a woman in a STEM career marrying a man she doesn’t love and engaging in Bollywood dance numbers; in Korea we have a patriarchally oppressed wealthy corporate woman who also happens to be a kickass martial artist; in Mexico City we follow a telenovela actor. London and Reykjavik are filmed using tourist locations and anonymous interiors.

Worse, the filmic clichés of each country are brought to bear on the production in each location — each organized by a different director: Nairobi is sweaty, garish, earth-toned, radiantly shabby; Mumbai is multicolored, and Hindu iconned, full of the jewelry, silks, flowers, and jubilant crowds that burst out of classic Bollywood; Seoul is clean to the point of sterility, with little patches of grass and mirrors and windows everywhere, a grey, hi-tech aesthetic; Mexico City is jewel-toned, rife with skulls, full of melodrama deliberately reminiscent of the telenovela; etc. I believe, quite literally, that the filmmakers primarily learned about these other cultures through their films, and considered that enough.

And finally, the pop-cultural elements of the show are all American. There’s no evidence of local or national culture influencing how the non-American characters view themselves or live their lives. The Kenyan sensate idolizes Jean-Claude Van Damme (who is, granted, not American, but known for his role in American action films). The German sensate claims Conan the Barbarian quotes as his personal philosophy. The Icelandic DJ in London puts on 4 Non Blondes’ hideous anthem “What’s Goin’ On?” and infects the entire cluster with a dancing/singing jag. Where there’s no American cultural lead — in Korea and Mexico, and even in the Ganesh-worshipping Indian sensate’s life — the characters’ life philosophies are a blank.

The Wachowskis take advantage of the apparent international ascendancy of American pop culture to unify disparate cultures, when the way American pop works on non-western cultures is often counterintuitive to Western minds. Sense8 also displays a profound lack of recognition of local pop cultures even when they would definitely have influenced such characters. In the show, American pop is specific, non American pop is generalized and clichéd, as in the Bollywood dance, or entirely absent.

The universality being promoted here is a universality of American ideas, American popular culture, American world views. It’s like Stephen Colbert’s idea of freedom of religion:

“I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jew, or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”

If the entire show were an even spread of such thin notions, I could dismiss the show, or even enjoy it as as a guilty or problematic pleasure. But Sense8 has two great counter virtues.

The first is in the depiction of the San Francisco sensate, which is the best representation both of the city and of that particular community that I’ve ever seen on TV. Nomi, a trans woman, is first seen wandering through a very locally-informed San Francisco cityscape during Pride weekend. At every level, the limning of Nomi’s character and the study of San Francisco are intimate, layered, nuanced, and above all, specific. Nomi doesn’t fall off a bike somewhere in San Francisco, she falls off a motorcycle in the Castro during the Dykes on Bikes parade, which she rides in every year with her girlfriend, a gesture of extreme importance to her identity. She doesn’t meet-cute her girlfriend in a random park; she remembers a key moment early in their relationship where her girlfriend stands up for her against a hostile TERF during a picnic in Dolores Park.

It’s the specificity that rings true to this San Franciscan, and that signals to all viewers that this world is real, and the character is alive within it.

It’s a vision of how the entire show could have been, if the Wachowskis could have figured out in time how to bring this level of intimacy and specificity to their depiction of all the characters, and all the cities. Because Tom Tykwer, himself a Berliner, directs the Berlin sequences, you see a little bit of this familiarity in the locations chosen for that city and in the character of Wolfgang — his East German origins, his family’s Slavic name and orthodox religion, etc.

But none of the other sensates, including the idealistic Chicago cop, bear anything close to the level of intimate knowledge or specific detail that Nomi or Wolfgang have. In fact, pay attention and you’ll see how generalizing the locations and incidents are. For example: in Nairobi, the sensate’s bus is robbed in what the characters themselves call “a bad area,” i.e. they don’t refer to the district by its name.



But even this failure in the rest of Sense8’s world is countered somewhat by its second great virtue, which is that it commits totally to its clichés and rides them out to their conclusions. Thank the slow pacing for this. The entire 12-episode first season covers a story arc that would generally be covered in the first two episodes of any other show (the sensates are introduced, discover each other, start to learn the rules of their condition, meet their antagonist, and finally successfully pull off their first combined action). The very deliberation with which the story unfolds forces the writers to unpack details of each character’s life and situations that bring a kind of life and reality to the clichés they’re embedded in. Details are forced into the narrative — one by one in each character’s arc — and each character eventually becomes rooted in these details, even though they often come late in the season.



In a discussion before I wrote this piece, I disagreed with a friend about the handling of language in the show. I really appreciated the choice of having all characters speak English without forcing them all to speak English in cheap versions of their “native” accents. And, given that this was an American TV show, I didn’t expect the makers to force American audiences to read subtitles. My friend, however, pointed out that it would have been… well, less hegemonic for everyone to be actually speaking their own languages.

Upon reflection, I have to agree that having the dialogue in non-English speaking countries translated would have offered the translators an opportunity for input about the content of the dialogue. And if the Wachowskis had hired writers from each culture to translate not merely the text but also the entire culture and idiom — up to and including changing plot points and points of view to better fit with the local culture of that character — this could have solved their whole problem.

Whether or not you believe in the universality of human experience — whether or not you believe in a single global imagination — the only way to attempt to depict a true global imagination would be to create — in the writers room and on the directors’ chairs — a facsimile of a sensate cluster. Just imagine it: eight equal auteurs, each in their own physical location and cultural context, striving together — and frequently pulling apart — to achieve a single, complex story on film. Even the failure of such an enterprise would have been far more ambitious, far more glorious, far more Ehrgeizversagensschoen, than the Sense8 we actually got.

And if it had succeeded?

There are four more seasons to go on this show — if the Wachowskis get their way. Let’s hope that in the future their globalism is more than just an aesthetic decision.

Bottom line: yes, watch it. Binge it. Its failure is far more interesting than the success of almost anything else happening at this moment. And it’s truly one of the most diverse shows on TV right now."
sense8  tv  television  wachowskis  universality  language  culture  global  2015  clairelight  stereotypes  universing  translation  humans  human  humanexperience 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Book to the Future - a book liberation manifesto
"The Book Liberation Manifesto is an exploration of publishing outside of current corporate constraints and beyond the confines of book piracy. We believe that knowledge should be in free circulation to benefit humankind, which means an equitable and vibrant economy to support publishing, instead of the prevailing capitalist hand-me-down system of Sisyphean economic sustainability. Readers and books have been forced into pirate libraries, while sales channels have been monopolised by the big Internet giants which exact extortionate fees from publishers. We have three proposals. First, publications should be free-at-the-point-of-reading under a variety of open intellectual property regimes. Second, they should become fully digital — in order to facilitate ready reuse, distribution, algorithmic and computational use. Finally, Open Source software for publishing should be treated as public infrastructure, with sustained research and investment. The result of such robust infrastructures will mean lower costs for manufacturing and faster publishing lifecycles, so that publishers and publics will be more readily able to afford to invent new futures.

For more information on the Hybrid Publishing Consortium see http://consortium.io "



"1. Introduction ᙠooʞ ƚo ƚʜɘ ᖷuƚuɿɘ – ɒ mɒnifɘƨƚo for book libɘɿɒƚio∩ Book to the Future front cover

The Hybrid Publishing Consortium (HPC) is a research network which is part of the Hybrid Publishing Lab and works to support Open Source software infrastructures. The HPC wishes to present practical solutions to the problems with the current stage of the evolution of the book. The HPC sees a glaring necessity for new types of publications, books which are enhanced with interfaces in order to take advantage of computation and digital networks. The initial sections of this manifesto will outline the current problems with the digital development of the book, with reference to stages in its historical evolution. We will then go on to present a framework for dealing with the problems in the later sections.

Now that there are floods of Open Access content for users to sort through, the book must develop to take on fresh interface design challenges – for improving reading, but also to support a wide range of communities. The latter include art, design, museums and the Digital Humanities groups, for all of whom video, audio, hyper-images, code, text, simulations and game sequences are needed.

HPC’s view is that current technology provisions in publishing are costly, inefficient and need a step-up in R&D. To support technical, open source infrastructures for publishing we have identified the ‘Platform Independent Document Type’ as key. Our objective is to contribute to the working implementation of an open standards based and transmedia structured document for multi-format publishing. With structured documents and accompanying systems publishers can lower costs, increase revenues and support innovation.

HPC is about building public open source software infrastructures for publishing to support the free-flow of knowledge – aka book liberation. Our mission statement is:
‘Every publication, in a universal format, available for free in real-time.’

This is our reworking of Amazon’s mission statement for its Kindle product:
‘Every book ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.’

Currently digital publishing is dead in the water because for digital multi-format publications prohibitive amounts of time and costs are needed for rights clearance: the permissions required for each new format, the necessary signed contracts etc. So something has to give. For the scholarly community, Open Access academic publishing has fixed these problems with open licences, but other publishing sectors outside of academia remain frozen by restrictive licensing designed for print media.

Our efforts in building technical infrastructures will be wasted if content continues to be locked in, and this is where HPC's issue becomes as much a political as a technical problem. Open intellectual property licences, such as Creative Commons, are not enough on their own. Something else is needed if we want to support the free flow of knowledge: a way to financially support the publishers and the chain of skilled workers who are involved in publication productions. This can be either by a form of market metrics or by fair collections and redistribution methods, with the latter involving a little less fussing around than some market measurement. Open Access has meant publishers are still paid; it is simply that the point of payment has moved away from the reader to another point in the publishing process, where the free flow of knowledge is not hampered."
books  bookfuturism  2015  publishing  archives  bookliberation  copyright  copyleft  manifestoes  oer  libraries  technology  digital  ebooks  openlearning  repositories  creativecommons  print  amazon  kindle  universality  transmedia  hpc 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2014 - Leah Buechley on Vimeo
"Thinking About Making – An examination of what we mean by making (MAKEing) these days. What gets made? Who makes? Why does making matter?"



[uninscusive covers of Make Magazine and composition of Google employment]

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

"I'm really tired of setting up structures where we tell young women and young brown and black kids that they should aspire to be like rich white guys."

[RTd these back than, but never watched the video. Thanks, Sara for bringing it back up.

https://twitter.com/arikan/status/477546169329938432
https://twitter.com/arikan/status/477549826498764801 ]

[Talk with some of the same content from Leah Buechley (and a lot of defensive comments from the crowd that Buechleya addresses well):
http://edstream.stanford.edu/Video/Play/883b61dd951d4d3f90abeec65eead2911d
https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-10-29-make-ing-more-diverse-makers ]
leahbuechley  making  makermovement  critique  equality  gender  race  2014  via:ablerism  privilege  wealth  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  democratization  inequality  makemagazine  money  age  education  electronics  robots  robotics  rockets  technology  compsci  computerscience  computing  computers  canon  language  work  inclusivity  funding  google  intel  macarthurfoundation  opportunity  power  influence  movements  engineering  lowriders  pottery  craft  culture  universality  marketing  inclusion 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Total Archive.
[See also: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/25660

"The Total Archive: Dreams of Universal Knowledge from the Encyclopaedia to Big Data
19 March 2015 - 20 March 2015



The complete system of knowledge is a standard trope of science fiction, a techno-utopian dream and an aesthetic ideal. It is Solomon’s House, the Encyclopaedia and the Museum. It is also an ideology – of Enlightenment, High Modernism and absolute governance.

Far from ending the dream of a total archive, twentieth-century positivist rationality brought it ever closer. From Paul Otlet’s Mundaneum to Mass-Observation, from the Unity of Science movement to Isaac Asimov’s Encyclopedia Galactica, from the Whole Earth Catalog to Wikipedia, the dream of universal knowledge dies hard. These projects triumphantly burst their own bounds, generating more archival material, more information, than can ever be processed. When it encounters well defined areas – the sportsfield or the model organism – the total archive tracks every movement of every player, of recording every gene and mutation. Increasingly this approach is inverted: databases are linked; quantities are demanded where only qualities existed before. The Human Genome Project is the most famous, but now there are countless databases demanding ever more varied input. Here the question of what is excluded becomes central.

The total archive is a political tool. It encompasses population statistics, GDP, indices of the Standard of Living and the international ideology of UNESCO, the WHO, the free market and, most recently, Big Data. The information-gathering practices of statecraft are the total archive par excellence, carrying the potential to transfer power into the open fields of economics and law – or divest it into the hands of criminals, researchers and activists.

Questions of the total archive engage key issues in the philosophy of classification, the poetics of the universal, the ideology of surveillance and the technologies of information retrieval. What are the social structures and political dynamics required to sustain total archives, and what are the temporalities implied by such projects?

In order to confront the ideology and increasing reality of interconnected data-sets and communication technologies we need a robust conceptual framework – one that does not sacrifice historical nuance for the ability to speculate. This conference brings together scholars from a wide range of fields to discuss the aesthetics and political reality of the total archive."]
tumblr  classification  maps  knowledge  2015  tumblrs  archives  universality  collections  data  politics  bigdata  history  encyclopedias  paulotlet  mundaneum  isaacasimov  encyclopediagalactica  wholeearthcatalog  museums  ideology  highmodernism  sccifi  sciencefiction  humangenomeproject  libraries  wikipedia  universalknowledge 
march 2015 by robertogreco
I Can Text You A Pile of Poo, But I Can’t Write My Name by Aditya Mukerjee | Model View Culture
"We can’t ignore the composition of the Unicode Consortium’s members, directors, and officers -- the people who define the everyday writing systems of all languages across the globe."



"Determining which graphemes and glyphs are essential to a given ethno-linguistic group is a tough problem. Identifying all of these for all languages in widespread use is even more challenging. But one thing is clear: we cannot design an alphabet meant for everyday use by native speakers of a language without the primary input of native speakers of these languages.

Out of compatibility concerns, the Unicode Consortium is unlikely to modify the 224,024 characters that have already been defined in any future updates. It took half a century to replace the English-only ASCII with Unicode, and even that was only made possible with an encoding that explicitly maintains compatibility with ASCII, allowing English speakers to continue ignoring other languages.

But that still leaves 80% of the codepoints unused. As the Unicode Consortium decides which characters to allocate, there are a number of ways to ensure that Unicode accurately reflects the stated goal of representing “all characters in widespread use today”.

Membership in the Consortium is not free, or even cheap. Full membership and voting rights cost $18,000 (and tellingly, all prices are listed in USD only). Discounts are already provided at lower membership tiers for non-profit organizations, such as the Mormon church. These discounts could be expanded to full membership, and to for-profit groups from non-European countries where English is a minority language. The Consortium could establish an explicit hiring plan to guarantee that its staff represent the many languages that it seeks to standardize. The Consortium could adopt bylaws that ensure that technical committee members and officers are not dominated by native English speakers. There are other measures that the Consortium can and should take as well, but these three are very straightforward both to implement and to evaluate, so they make a good starting point.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has written, ‘The subaltern cannot speak’. They are structurally prohibited from having any dialogue – even an unbalanced one – with the very powers that oppress them. Access to digital tools that respect our languages is crucial to communicating in the Internet age. The power to control the written word is the ability both to amplify voices and to silence them. Anyone with this power must wield it with caution.

Whatever path we take, it’s imperative that the writing system of the 21st century be driven by the needs of the people using it. In the end, a non-native speaker – even one who is fluent in the language – cannot truly speak on behalf the monolingual, native speaker. For them, the language is simply a way of exploring a different part of their world, or of exploring familiar parts in a new way. For the native speaker, the language is not merely a novelty. It is the gateway to accessing life and society itself."
culture  language  unicode  technology  discrimination  internet  web  2015  inclusion  emoji  standards  universality  webstandards  bengali  adityamukerjee  history  gayatrichakravortyspivak  subaltern  diversity  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
That Way We’re All Writing Now — The Message — Medium
"[When you(r)…
That moment when…]

This style has been huge for some time now. Do you love it, or hate it?

Me—I’m in! Mind you, I’m a fan of all the betentacled linguistic lifeforms that have emerged from our cambrian explosion online. These days, people write insanely more text than they did before the Internet and mobile phones came along. So the volume of experimentation is correspondingly massive and, for me, delightful. One joy of our age is watching wordplay evolve at the pace of E.coli.

But this trend: What’s going on with it? How does it work? Why do people employ it so frequently?

It turns out there are four big reasons why.

To suss this out, I called up some linguists: Gretchen McCulloch, a who specializes in analyzing netspeak (her Toast essay explaining “the grammar of Doge” is a gorgeous example), and Ben Zimmer, a linguist with Vocabulary.com who writes for the Wall Street Journal. As they pointed out, this style of wordplay initially appeared—like most online memes — on image-boards, Tumblr and Youtube. An early version was the meme “that feel when”; variants morphed into the standalone phrase “that awkward moment when”, which by last year was common enough to appear as a movie title.

But it’s more than just movie titles. This stylistic gambit— “that moment when …”, “the thing where …”, “when you realize …” — is omnipresent now. And that’s because it achieves a few conversational goals:

1) It creates a little puzzle. …

2) It makes your feeling seem universal. …

3) It’s short. …

4) It’s a glimpse of the next big way the Internet is changing language. …

For the first fifteen years of the mainstream Internet, the main way language changed was at the level of the individual word. We invented a lot of ‘textisms’ — short forms like ‘ur’ for “you’re”, LOL-style acronyms, or alphanumeric l33tspe@k. And of course, a lot of words got invented, like “selfie”.

What’s happening now is different. Now we’re messing around with syntax — the structure of sentences, the order in which the various parts go and how they relate to one another. This stuff people are doing with the subordinate clause, it’s pretty sophisticated, and oddly deep. We’re not just inventing catchy new words. We’re mucking around with what makes a sentence a sentence.

“Playing with syntax seems to be the broad meta trend behind a whole bunch of stuff that’s going on these days,” McCulloch tells me. And it goes beyond this subordinate-clause trend. Many of the biggest recent language memes were about syntax experimentation, such as the “i’ve lost the ability to can” gambit, or the gnarly elocution of doge, or the “because” meme. (Indeed, Zimmer points out, the American Dialect Society proclaimed “Because” the Word of the Year for 2013, largely because it had been revitalized by this syntax play.)

Why would we be suddenly messing around with syntax? It’s not clear. McCulloch thinks it may be related to a larger trend she’s identified, which she calls “stylized verbal incoherence mirroring emotional incoherence”. Most of these syntax-morphing memes consist of us trying to find clever new ways to express our feelings.

“You want to convey that you’re kind of overwhelmed by your emotions,” she says. “But you don’t want people to think that you’re completely naive about it. So you’re maintaining a certain level of sophistication. You need to stylize your incoherence, so that it’s part of a broader thing people are doing. You don’t just kind of keysmash all over the place. You also want to be witty while you’re doing it.

“You get more attention online if you’re witty, and people actually engage with you if you’re witty about your feelings.”

On the other hand, if you really don’t like this trend, there is—as it happens —an image-meme for your feelings, too. Better yet, it’s a complete sentence!"
clivethompson  2015  language  internet  memes  syntax  linguistics  writing  howwewrite  gretchenmcculloch  doge  grammar  text  texting  play  communication  brevity  universality  belonging  humor  emotions  benzimmer  wordplay  words  sentences  that 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2014 - Claire Evans on Vimeo
"Science Fiction & The Synthesized Sound – Turn on the radio in the year 3000, and what will you hear? When we make first contact with an alien race, will we—as in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"—communicate through melody? If the future has a sound, what can it possibly be? If science fiction has so far failed to produce convincing future music, it won’t be for lack of trying. It’s just that the problem of future-proofing music is complex, likely impossible. The music of 1,000 years from now will not be composed by, or even for, human ears. It may be strident, seemingly random, mathematical; like the “Musica Universalis” of the ancients, it might not be audible at all. It might be the symphony of pure data. It used to take a needle, a laser, or a magnet to reproduce sound. Now all it takes is code. The age of posthuman art is near; music, like mathematics, may be a universal language—but if we’re too proud to learn its new dialects, we’ll find ourselves silent and friendless in a foreign future."
claireevans  sciencefiction  scifi  music  future  sound  audio  communication  aesthetics  robertscholes  williamgibson  code  composition  2014  johncage  film  history  ai  artificialintelligence  machines  universality  appreciation  language  turingtest 
february 2015 by robertogreco
There is no “proof” here. I post evidence, and I... - People of Color in European Art History
“There is no “proof” here.

I post evidence, and I post informed interpretations of that evidence. I have my own interpretations as well, and I invite people to add theirs.

Since we seem to be at this point again, I wanted to reiterate that I do not “prove” things in the sense that people generally mean. This is also why I am not in the business of convincing the belligerently unconvinced. I am not emotionally invested in hand-holding people who believe I have photoshopped thousands of artworks to appear to support what I say (yes, that is a thing* ), for the same reason I am not emotionally invested in convincing people who go around saying “Evolution is only a THEORY!” that they are mistaken. I fail to see how that is my problem.

What I’m talking about in the above tweets and in this post are more or less the same thing; what frustrates me is that the lack of interdisciplinary cooperation leaves massive lacunas in our body of information regarding the topics covered at medievalpoc. In other words, science (usually) understands that “proof” is not a thing; unfortunately, many people in history and art history did not get the memo.

And in this din of miscommunication, people shove things where they don’t belong: assumptions that the race of people in ancient history can be “proven” with DNA testing, the misappropriation of Classical Demography to support entirely modern notions about human history, and laid over it all, the relentless assumption that history is a ubiquitous and temporal progress of humankind from “Worse” to “Better”.

We are not objective. That is just not how people work. And we’ve known this for decades; centuries; millennia. The pretense that we can somehow remove ourselves from our observations and find a universal and inhuman truth in them is a rather poisonous ideal that leads us ultimately to betray the truths we CAN know.

Injustice occurs when information is destroyed or purposely withheld from people in order to oppress them. To take something away from them, to cause them to be disenfranchised, to excuse terrible violence done to them. To make them seem less than human. And that is the reality of what has been done and is still being done to people of color. Histories, cultures, lineages, physical documents and works of art are suppressed, ignored, misrepresented, painted over, or completely destroyed in order to support the fictions of white supremacy.

People being so caught up in their own perspectives that they universalize these experiences is the reason I get so many messages that question why this project exists, because “everyone already knows [whatever]” , and the same amount of messages positing that every single thing here is some sort of elaborate ruse perpetrated for nefarious reasons.

What is touted as “objectivity” is nothing more than individuals projecting their own experiences, values, constructs of “self” and “other”, perspectives and opinions on everyone else. What we learn of logic, reason, philosophy, is often nothing more than the same ten white men who died centuries ago, and hold it up as the One True Way of understanding ourselves and the world. We teach the aesthetics of Immanuel Kant as if they come unfiltered through his perspective from some universal authority, and yet we completely ignore how they were shaped by his racism. there are countless examples, but over it all is the same internal illogic that ignores its own hypocrisy.

That is where we are at right now, and that is the point I am starting from. Claiming I am unaffected by these truths or that I am somehow outside of my own society or culture would be a lie. Each individual comes to the table of evidence with their own baggage, their own culture, their own individuality. Pretending that we don’t is much like pretending that these inequalities don’t exist; they do, and until we correct them, they will remain uncorrected.

___

* Mostly espoused by people who do not seem to understand that I post photographs of artwork, and that multiple photographs of the same artwork can look different. The original paintings or drawing themselves are not actually embedded somehow in your computer. My apologies if this comes as a shock.”
evidence  proof  science  objectivity  2015  truth  theory  information  knowing  perspective  truths  individuality  history  universality  miscommunication  communication  race  culture  constructs  othering  opinions  authority  hypocrisy  racism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why Pygmies Aren't Scared By The 'Psycho' Theme : Goats and Soda : NPR
"In many ways, music and emotion almost seem interchangeable.

Scientists at McGill University and the University of Montreal got the rare opportunity to answer that question. Their findings, published Wednesday in Frontiers in Psychology, [“subjective and psychophysiological emotional responses to music” http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01341/abstract ] suggest that music isn't always a universal language.

Deep in the rain forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a group of Pygmies lives in near isolation from Western culture. The Mbenzele Pygmies don't have electricity, radios or cellphones. Many have never heard a note of Brahms or the beat of Beyonce.

On a trip to Congo, anthropologist Nathalie Fernando of the University of Montreal played 11 excerpts of Western songs to 40 Pygmies. Some songs, such as "Cantina," trigger positive feelings in Westerners. Others, like the Psycho theme or Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, trigger negative or sad feelings in Westerners.

But the Pygmies didn't hear the music that way.

The emotional cues in songs, which Westerners pick up on, didn't mean the same to the Pygmies: They didn't hear the shrieking strings of the Psycho theme as stressful or the minor chords in Wagner's Tristan as sad.

"The emotional response to this music was all over the map," says neuroscientist Stephen McAdams of McGill University, who co-authored the study with Fernando. "The idea of music being a universal language, I don't really buy it. Some aspects of the emotional response are very specific to that culture."

"All of their music is generally upbeat, playful," says McAdams. The culture just doesn't have sad songs, he says.

"In the West, we expect to have negative emotions sometimes. We even seek them sometimes," McAdams says. "When I'm feeling sad, and I really want to enhance it, I'll put on some sad music."

But in the Pygmy culture, sad feelings aren't accepted. "They generally try to get rid of negative emotions by singing happy music," McAdams says. "One of the main roles of music in their culture is to evacuate bad feelings."

The Mbenzele Pygmies are known for their rich, complex music. Everyone in the community is a musician, McAdams says. They sing, dance and play instruments, starting at a young age.

"How they think about music is very different from how Westerners think about music," Fernando said in an email to Goats and Soda. "The Pygmies do not use music to express emotions. It's not sentimental."

As hunter-gatherers, the Pygmies depend on the forest for their livelihood. "They feel they have an unwavering relationship with the forest," Fernando says. "Music is the vital force that links them to the forest, like an umbilical cord."

That's why songs must be upbeat, joyful, she says: "Positive energy is used to maintain relations with the spirits that live in the forest. So music should inspire positive energy."

The Pygmies use music — and positive energy — to help accomplish tasks and overcome problems, Fernando says. "There's music for each of the daily activities: hunting, fishing, gathering, mourning," Fernando writes. If there's a disagreement in the community, music is brought in to fix it.

So are Pygmies always in a good mood?

"They can cry, but not while singing," Fernando says. "They sing to pass through the tears.""
music  pygmies  2015  congo  drc  nathaliefernando  sound  psychology  anthropology  universality  culture  emotion  emotions 
january 2015 by robertogreco
SRSLY What Does IKEA Say About The Human Condition? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios - YouTube
"You may have seen our April Fools video... sorry for disappointing you back then when we didn't have an actual discussion about IKEA and the human condition. But now we're doing it for real!!!! While a huge corporate entity may not be the most likely place to find discussion points for the human condition, we're going for it anyway. For example, what is "The IKEA Effect"? What is it about building your own furniture that is so satisfying (or frustrating)? And those stores... oh, we can undoubtedly find some metaphors in their labyrinthine layouts. So what DOES Ikea say about the human condition? Watch the episode and find out!"
ikea  2014  mikerugnetta  kornhaberbrown  humancondition  curiosity  fear  love  capitalism  karlmarx  theikeaeffect  effortjustification  consumerism  materialism  disposability  universality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Cultural factors in web design | Design | Creative Bloq
"By factoring in cultural variables, we can create sites that are relevant for a wide variety of users around the world"



"Some cultures are High Context. This means most communication is simply understood rather than explicitly stated. These cultures have a much higher tolerance for ambiguity and understatement. You could say that, in a High Context culture, the responsibility for understanding rests with the listener and it’s left to them to divine deeper meaning from the conversation or statements coming at them.

Low Context cultures, on the other hand, are much more explicit and often rely on directness and true feelings to communicate. These cultures are great at creating an external set of rules and responsibilities for the members of society as this is the only way that people can figure out what is to be done. In these types of cultures, the responsibility for understanding is on the speaker to convey their ideas clearly and without ambiguity.

Within these two types of cultures, there are four variables that I believe have a huge impact on the design, and more importantly, the acceptance of that design by users around the world. They are each related to a High or Low context culture.

1. Ambiguity and directness …

2. Collectivism and individuality …

3. High power distance and low power distance …

4. Slow Messaging and Fast Messaging …

Being culturally responsive
So what do we do for our own sites? People need to feel at home with the cultural references in our designs. By using the variables above, we can create culturally responsive sites that are accepted and used by people across the globe. I propose we use cultural variables to show the appropriate content for specific groups of users in the same way that we use media queries to show content according to viewports or breakpoints.

Perhaps the easiest step is to localise the language in your site. Translate the important content, particularly the calls to action, descriptions and contact forms. While you may not be able to make it perfect, it can help to make the site usable for speakers of different languages.

Another step is making the design visually relevant to the user. Add colour, images and queues that are responsive to the users perspective. By referencing culturally significant themes, it makes your design more welcoming and responsive to the user.

Finally, put it all together. Use media queries to adapt to the content blocks and the viewport, and the variables above to display a site that adapts to the user’s culture.

Adapting
Every culture contains a deepness and richness that comes when groups of people get together. As we design for ever larger audiences and as the web reaches deeper into homes and private lives, we need to think more about how our sites contribute to those cultures. We need to adapt them to a wider variety of situations beyond simply viewport or pixel width. How do we make our fellow humans comfortable with our interfaces and site? Start using cultural queries in our designs."

[See also: https://speakerdeck.com/senongo/culturally-responsive-design ]
senongoakpem  webdev  webdesign  culture  2013  highcontext  lowcontext  ambiguity  directness  collectivism  individuality  power  relationships  powerrelationships  authority  slow  fast  messaging  speed  gov.uk  culturalresponsiveness  communication  difference  adapting  adaptation  universality  context  individualism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Want To Learn About Game Design? Go To Ikea - ReadWrite
"The path is constantly curving to keep you enticed."

[also posted at: http://killscreendaily.com/articles/game-design-ikea/
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKCDJ89ODyM ]

"IKEA’s reach extends beyond simple economic heft. In Lauren Collins’ epic 2011 New Yorker profile of the company, she casts the IKEA vision as something that extends beyond pure commerce. “The invisible designer of domestic life, it not only reflects but also molds, in its ubiquity, our routines and our attitudes.” Our IKEA, ourselves, as it were.

But to become that successful requires a unique understanding of the consumer mindset and there are certainly many explanations for why this might be. I wanted to introduce something else. Intentionally or not, IKEA embodies some of the best values of good games. I’m not saying that IKEA is a game, per se, but it exhibits many game-like characteristics.

So how?

DESIGNING A GOOD MAZE …

BUILD A STORY WORLD THROUGH DETAILS …

"Because Ikea's founder is dyslexic, the company built a whole taxonomy for products to help him remember. Furniture is Swedish place names, chairs are men’s names, and children’s items are mammals and birds. (Lars Petrus’ Ikea dictionary reads like a key to reading Ulysses in this respect.)

The act of naming an object is an incredibly powerful key to immersion that games use all the time. Think about the names of the drones in BioShock or inventory descriptions in Dark Souls. Each of these games uses unique in-game language to build a convincing story world and keep you there.

For Ikea, they want you to identify with a place, in this case the Swedish concept of “folkhemmet,” a social democratic term coined by the Social Democratic Party leader Per Albin Hansson in 1928, that means “the people’s home.” And this identity is bolstered through numerous elements that want to capture a full-bodied Swedish identity, despite the global presence of the store. The colors are the Swedish national flag; the store sells traditional Swedish foods; the children’s play room is called Smaland as a nod to the founder’s hometown and so on.

As Ursula Lindqvist, an associate professor of Scandinavian studies at Adolphus Gustavus, writes, “The Ikea store is a space of acculturation, a living archive in which values and traits identified as distinctively Swedish are communicated to consumers worldwide through its Nordic-identified product lines, organized walking routes, and nationalistic narrative.”

But the language plays the largest part Ikea builds their retail universe, the same way that Borderlands doesn’t just call a pistol a pistol. It’s a Lacerator or The Dove or the Chiquito Amigo or Athena’s Wisdom. Ikea doesn't just sell you a coffee table; it sells you a Lack or a Lillbron or a Lovbaken.

As writers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn said of their Significant Objects project, “It turns out that once you start increasing the emotional energy of inanimate objects, an unpredictable chain reaction is set off.""

ALLOW SHOPPERS TO CREATE THEIR OWN MEANING …

THE VALUE IS THAT YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF …

"But the value is that you have to do it yourself, which makes it more meaningful. Researchers found this is at the heart of “the Ikea effect” which suggests that people will value mass-produced items as much as artisan wares … if only they build them piece by frustrating piece. In their 2012 paper, “The Ikea Effect: When Labor Leads to Love,” Michael Norton and his team explain that the reason people love Ikea is a form of “effort justification.” You’ve put so much time into building Lack shelves that it has to be valuable."

DEVELOP UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCES

This is something we take for granted in games, but think about if you couldn’t play Tetris if you didn’t speak Russian or Super Mario Galaxy if you didn’t speak Japanese. Games are their own language and can be played by anyone, regardless of the nationality, location or background.

IKEA has a similar idea about decorating your home. They call it “democratic design.” As founder Ingvar Kamprad wrote, “Why do the most famous designers always fail to reach the majority of people with their ideas?” So IKEA tries to takes its designs to everyone in the world and designs products that ostensibly could fit in any living room from Shanghai to Berlin or Los Angeles.

This has obviously been a source of critique. Bill Moggridge, the director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, calls IKEA’s aesthetic “global functional minimalism.” He says “it’s modernist, and it’s very neutral in order to avoid local preferences.” IKEA flattens the experience of every home by selling the same furniture which, of course, benefits the company but also benefits the mission of the paradoxical non-profit that technically owns IKEA and is somehow dedicated to furthering the advancement of architecture and interior design.

Regardless, that impulse for world domination has a pleasant by-product in that creates a common design language for people around the world. It’s the same type of experience that Jenova Chen wanted to make in Journey. Chen argued to me that the language we use is a facade and that games like Journey can be played by anyone. One could argue is the same desire to explains the lack of words on IKEA’s instructions."
ikea  gamedesign  2014  games  gaming  jaminwarren  jenovachen  journey  design  videogames  effortjustification  dyslexia  names  naming  flow  objects  economics  effort  language  constructivism  construction  mastery  difficulty  ingvarkamprad  culture  acculturation  robwalker  joshuaglenn  billmoggridge  homoludens  significantobjects  ursulalindqvist  adolphusgustavus  universality  global  meaningmaking  michaelnorton 
december 2014 by robertogreco
University of California Research: The universal language is in our minds  As a deaf....
"As a deaf person in a hearing world, “I am bound to negotiate in the realm of non-verbal communication,” says UC Berkeley linguistics lecturer Patrick Boudreault. “I’m adept at communication with anyone, every day of my life — people who know sign or don’t know sign.”

Born deaf to deaf parents, Boudreault’s first languages were Quebec Sign Language, then French, which he learned to read and write as a child. He added English and American Sign Language to his repertoire in his early teens. In introducing himself to students, he adds that he’s married to a Russian woman whose native languages are Russian and Russian Sign Language.
I meet a lot of people and sometimes they ask, “what are your dreams like?" I have to smile. Of course, that depends on the individual! “But, are you signing in your dreams? Speaking? Processing thought conceptually?" And my answer is, it depends…but from my perspective, language is a fluid thing.  Whether it’s spoken or signed, it always starts as a fluid thing inside your head.  So, maybe the only place a universal language will happen is in our minds, not our hands or our mouths.

"

[Embedded video is also here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQtrPpkCRBM ]
asl  deafness  deaf  language  linguistics  communication  universality  patrickboudreault  dreaming  nonverbalcommunication 
june 2013 by robertogreco
DrupalCon Portland 2013: DESIGN OPS: A UX WORKFLOW FOR 2013 - YouTube
"Hey, the dev team gets all these cool visual analytics, code metrics, version control, revision tagging, configuration management, continuous integration ... and the UX design team just passes around Photoshop files?

Taking clues from DevOps and Lean UX, "DesignOps" advocates more detailed and durable terminology about the cycle of user research, design and production. DesignOps seeks to first reduce the number of design artifacts, to eliminate the pain of prolonged design decisions. DesignOps assumes that the remaining design artifacts aren't actionable until they are reasonably archived and linked in a coherent way that serves the entire development team.

This talk will introduce the idea of DesignOps with the assumption that the audience has experience with a basic user research cycle — iterative development with any kind of user feedback.

DesignOps is a general approach, intended to help with a broad array of questions from usability testing issues, documentation archiving, production-time stress, and general confusion on your team:

What are the general strategies for managing the UX design process?
How do you incorporate feedback without huge cost?
What happened to that usability test result from last year?
How much space goes between form elements?
Why does the design cycle make me want to drink bleach?
WTF why does our website look like THIS?
* Features turnkey full-stack (Vagrant ) installation of ubuntu with drupal 7 install profile utilizing both php and ruby development tools, with all examples configured for live css compilation"
chrisblow  contradictions  just  simply  must  2013  drupal  drupalcon  designops  fear  ux  terminology  design  audience  experience  shame  usability  usabilitytesting  work  stress  archiving  confusion  relationships  cv  canon  collaboration  howwework  workflow  versioncontrol  versioning  failure  iteration  flickr  tracker  creativecommons  googledrive  tags  tagging  labels  labeling  navigation  urls  spreadsheets  links  permissions  googledocs  timelines  basecamp  cameras  sketching  universal  universality  teamwork  principles  bullshitdetection  users  clients  onlinetoolkit  offtheshelf  tools  readymadetools  readymade  crapdetection  maps  mapping  userexperience  research  designresearch  ethnography  meetup  consulting  consultants  templates  stencils  bootstrap  patterns  patternlibraries  buzzwords  css  sass  databases  compass  webdev  documentation  sharing  backups  maintenance  immediacy  process  decisionmaking  basics  words  filingsystems  systems  writing  facilitation  expression  operations  exoskeletons  clarification  creativity  bots  shellscripts  notes  notetaking  notebo 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Aporia. Writing and lesser things by Mills Baker. Objectivity and Art.
"This process is progressive: science gets better and better, even though it is purely the creation of “subjective” human conjecture —imagination— tested against reality for utility…

All of which is to say: artists are natural technologists. Historically, they’ve pursued the newest and best techniques, materials, and forms. When the methodology for achieving perspective became clear, few resisted it on the basis of a calcified iconographic style considered to be “high art,” or if some did they’ve been suitably forgotten. And had new inks, better canvases, or some unimaginable invention given superior means to the impressionists to capture washes of light and mood —like, say, film— they’d have used whatever was available. The purpose of painting isn’t paint, after all; nor is the purpose of writing a book…

Perhaps we are transitioning from artists-as-depictors and artists-as-catalyzers to artists-as-world-makers…"
théodoregéricault  alberteinstein  daviddeutsch  isaacnewton  designasart  meaningmaking  meaning  universality  hildegardofbingen  michelangelo  abbotsuger  erwinschrödinger  qualia  cilewis  temporality  virtualization  control  reality  chauvetcave  epistemology  knowledge  misconceptions  objectivity  karlpopper  philosophy  experience  huamns  human  humanexperience  progress  catalysis  making  writing  2012  worldcreating  worldbuilding  worldmaking  highart  technology  design  humans  subjectivity  glvo  perception  color  science  millsbaker 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Los idiomas de Borges « Eterna Cadencia
Nos hemos acostumbrado a tal grado a afirmar que Jorge Luis Borges fue un “escritor universal” que esta expresión y el nombre de Borges han pasado a ser casi sinónimos. Famoso y reconocido por la amplitud y la profundidad de sus obras, Borges fue un escritor a la vez profundamente argentino y cosmopolita.  En sus poemas y cuentos aparecen  compadritos del viejo Buenos Aires, sacerdotes mayas, vikingos de las sagas nórdicas o reyes anglosajones largamente olvidados. El conocimiento que Borges tenía de las diversas literaturas del mundo era poco menos que enciclopédico y las múltiples y diversas fuentes  de su inspiración continúan siendo investigadas por la crítica. Sin embargo, un hecho que a menudo se pasa por alto es que Borges logró acercarse a muchas de estas obras gracias a las numerosas lenguas que estudió durante toda su vida."
borges  language  universality  universalism  cosmopolitanism  languages  english  german  french  italian  portuguese  icelandic  japanese 
april 2011 by robertogreco

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