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Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo : The Poetry Foundation
"To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty."
via:anne  poems  poetry  hoyharjo  kindness  nature  multispecies  beauty  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  posthumanism 
may 2015 by robertogreco
AC2015 - Chair's plenary: Feral geographies: life in capitalist ruins
"Two questions guide this talk. First, how have industrial processes changed earth ecologies—even far from industrial centers? Second, given that Anthropocene ecologies have moved outside human design, how shall we understand their geographies as simultaneously global and local? Using invasive fungal pathogens, parasites, and decomposers as my entry point, I will examine histories of invasion that clarify overlapping human and nonhuman world-making, as this leads to feral geographies. On the one hand, such histories illustrate unintentional design, that is, landscapes made by many living things. On the other hand, they suggest that something new—and beyond human control—has emerged in our times, challenging the livable ecologies of earlier landscape dynamics. Indeed, newly deadly more-than-human capacities, with their feral geographies, give substance to the concept of the Anthropocene. Mapping them allows Anthropocene to do crucial work: drawing together a transdisciplinary discussion of industrial effects. The talk thus addresses the possibility of opening disciplinary and conceptual borders, not just for the critique of dichotomies between nature and culture, but also, more urgently, for the making of forms of knowledge, which, while not universal, know what travel is and how to chance it. This is a challenge, then, for both theory and description. Might joining the discussion called “Anthropocene” require humanistic social scientists to rethink our knowledge practices? Meanwhile, the talk is a renewed endorsement of the importance of arts of noticing—and critical description—for our unsettled times."
geography  feralgeographies  feral  anthropocene  capitalism  via:anne  2015  jamielorimer  sarahwhatmore  annatsing  stephenhinchliffe  gaildavies  charylmcewan  noticing  landscape  nonhuman  multispecies  human  design  geoengineering  parasites  pathogens  decomposers  decomposition  annalowenhaupttsing 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The male suicides: how social perfectionism kills | Mosaic
"Impulsivity, brooding rumination, low serotonin, poor social problem-solving abilities – there are many vulnerabilities that can heighten the risk of suicide. Professor Rory O’Connor, President of the International Academy of Suicide Research, has been studying the psychological processes behind self-inflicted death for over 20 years.

“Did you see the news?” he asks when I meet him. The morning’s papers are carrying the latest numbers: 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK in 2013. While the female suicide rate has remained roughly constant since 2007, that for men is at its highest since 2001. Nearly eight in ten of all suicides are male – a figure that has been rising for over three decades. In 2013, if you were a man between the ages of 20 and 49 who’d died, the most likely cause was not assault nor car crash nor drug abuse nor heart attack, but a decision that you didn’t wish to live any more.

In every country in the world, male suicides outnumber female. The mystery is why? What is it about being male that leads to this? Why, at least in the UK, are middle-aged men most at risk? And why is it getting worse?

Those who study suicide, or work for mental health charities, are keen to press upon the curious that there’s rarely, if ever, a single factor that leads to any self-inflicted death and that mental illness, most commonly depression, usually precedes such an event. “But the really important point is, most people with depression don’t kill themselves,” O’Connor tells me. “Less than 5 per cent do. So mental illness is not an explanation. For me, the decision to kill yourself is a psychological phenomenon. What we’re trying to do in the lab here is understand the psychology of the suicidal mind.”

We’re sitting in O’Connor’s office on the grounds of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. Through the window, the University of Glasgow’s spire rises into a dreich sky. Paintings by his two children are stuck to a corkboard – an orange monster, a red telephone. Hiding in the cupboard, a grim book collection: Comprehending Suicide; By Their Own Young Hands; Kay Redfield Jamison’s classic memoir of madness, An Unquiet Mind.

O’Connor’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab works with survivors in hospitals, assessing them within 24 hours of an attempt and tracking how they fare afterwards. It also carries out experimental studies, testing hypotheses on matters such as pain tolerance in suicidal people and changes in cognition following brief induced periods of stress.

After years of study, O’Connor found something about suicidal minds that surprised him. It’s called social perfectionism. And it might help us understand why men kill themselves in such numbers."



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you tend to identify closely with the roles and responsibilities you believe you have in life. “It’s not about what you expect of yourself,” O’Connor explains. “It’s what you think other people expect. You’ve let others down because you’ve failed to be a good father or a good brother – whatever it is.”

Because it’s a judgement on other people’s imagined judgements of you, it can be especially toxic. “It’s nothing to do with what those people actually think of you,” he says. “It’s what you think they expect. The reason it’s so problematic is that it’s outside your control.”

O’Connor first came across social perfectionism in studies of American university students. “I thought it wouldn’t be applicable in a UK context and that it certainly wouldn’t be applicable to people from really difficult backgrounds. Well, it is. It’s a remarkably robust effect. We’ve looked at it in the context of the most disadvantaged areas of Glasgow.” It began in 2003 with an initial study that looked at 22 people who had recently attempted suicide, as well as a control group, and assessed them using a 15-question quiz that measures agreement with statements such as “Success means that I must work even harder to please others” and “People expect nothing less than perfection from me”. “We’ve found this relationship between social perfectionism and suicidality in all populations where we’ve done the work,” says O’Connor, “including among the disadvantaged and the affluent.”

What’s not yet known is why. “Our hypothesis is that people who are social perfectionist are much more sensitive to signals of failure in the environment,” he says.

I ask if this is about perceived failure to fulfil roles, and what roles men feel they should fill? Father? Bread-winner?

“Now there’s this change in society,” O’Connor replies, “you have to be Mr Metrosexual too. There are all these greater expectations – more opportunities for men to feel like failures.”"



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you’ll have unusually high expectations of yourself. Your self-esteem will be dangerously dependent on maintaining a sometimes impossible level of success. When you’re defeated, you’ll collapse.

But social perfectionists aren’t unique in identifying closely with their goals, roles and aspirations. Psychology professor Brian Little, of the University of Cambridge, is well known for his research on ‘personal projects’. He believes we can identify so closely with them that they become part of our very sense of self. “You are your personal projects,” he used to tell his Harvard class.

According to Little, there are different kinds of projects, which carry different loads of value. Walking the dog is a personal project but so is becoming a headteacher in a lovely village, and so is being a successful father and husband. Surprisingly, how meaningful our projects are is thought to contribute to our wellbeing only slightly. What makes the crucial difference to how happy they make us is whether or not they’re accomplishable.

But what happens when our personal projects begin to fall apart? How do we cope? And is there a gender difference that might give a clue to why so many men kill themselves?

There is. It’s generally assumed that men, to their detriment, often find it hard to talk about their emotional difficulties. This has also been found to be true when it comes to discussing their faltering projects. “Women benefit from making visible their projects and their challenges in pursuing them,” Little writes, in his book Me, Myself and Us, “whereas men benefit from keeping that to themselves.”

In a study of people in senior management positions, Little uncovered another salient gender difference. “A clear differentiator is that, for men, the most important thing is to not confront impedance,” he tells me. “They’re primarily motivated to charge ahead. It’s a clear-the-decks kind of mentality. The women are more concerned about an organisational climate in which they’re connected with others. You can extrapolate that, I think, to areas of life beyond the office. I don’t want to perpetrate stereotypes but the data here seem pretty clear.”

Additional support for this comes from a highly influential 2000 paper, by a team lead by Professor Shelley Taylor at UCLA, that looked at bio-behavioural responses to stress. They found that while men tend to exhibit the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response, women are more likely to use ‘tend and befriend’. “Although women might think about suicide very seriously,” says Little, “because of their social connectedness, they may also think, ‘My God, what will my kids do? What will my mum think?’ So there’s forbearance from completing the act.” As for the men, death could be seen as the ultimate form of ‘flight’.

But that deadly form of flight takes determination. Dr Thomas Joiner, of Florida State University, has studied differences between people who think about suicide and those who actually act on their desire for death. “You can’t act unless you also develop a fearlessness of death,” he says. “And that’s the part I think is relevant to gender differences.” Joiner describes his large collection of security footage and police videos showing people who “desperately want to kill themselves and then, at the last minute, they flinch because it’s so scary. The flinch ends up saving their lives.” So is the idea men are less likely to flinch? “Exactly.”

But it’s also true, in most Western countries, that more women attempt suicide than men. One reason a higher number of males actually die is their choice of method. While men tend towards hanging or guns, women more often reach for pills. Martin Seager, a clinical psychologist and consultant to the Samaritans, believes this fact demonstrates that men have greater suicidal intent. “The method reflects the psychology,” he says. Daniel Freeman, of the University of Oxford’s department of psychiatry, has pointed to a study of 4,415 patients who had been at hospital following an episode of self-harm; it found significantly higher suicidal intent in the men than the women. But the hypothesis remains largely uninvestigated. “I don’t think it’s been shown definitively at all,” he says. “But then it would be incredibly difficult to show.”

For O’Connor, too, the intent question remains open. “I’m unaware of any decent studies that have looked at it because it’s really difficult to do,” he says. But Seager is convinced. “For men, I think of suicide as an execution,” he says. “A man is removing himself from the world. It’s a sense of enormous failure and shame. The masculine gender feels they’re responsible for providing and protecting others and for being successful. When a woman becomes unemployed, it’s painful, but she doesn’t feel like she’s lost her sense of identity or femininity. When a man loses his work he feels he’s not a man.”

It’s a notion echoed by the celebrated psychologist Professor Roy Baumeister, whose theory of suicide as ‘escape from the self’ has been an important influence on O’Connor. “A… [more]
suicide  men  via:anne  2015  perfectionism  roryo'connor  middleage  behavior  impulsivity  rumination  serotonin  socialperfectionism  responsibility  responsibilities  society  failure  judgement  urbanization  success  self-esteem  socialesteem  pressure  stress  gender  manhood  roybaumeister  martinseager  thomasjoiner  shelleytaylor  brianlittle  self-concept  korea  china  us  uk  kayredfieldjamison 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Book of Forgetting - Scientific American
"Much has been written on the wonders of human memory: the astounding feats of recall, the way memories shape our identity and are shaped by them, memory as a literary theme and a historical one. But what of forgetting? This is the topic of a new book by Douwe Draaisma, author of The Nostalgia Factory and a professor of the history of psychology at the University of Groningen. In Forgetting, Draaisma considers dreaming, amnesia, dementia and all of the ways that our minds — and lives — are shaped by memory’s opposite. He answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.

[Q:] What is your earliest memory and why, do you suppose, have you not forgotten it?

[A:] Quite a few early memories in the Netherlands involve bicycles, and mine is no exception. I was two-and-a-half years old when my aunts walked my mother to the train station. They had taken a bike along to transport her bags. I was sitting on the back of the bike. Suddenly the whole procession came to a halt when my foot got caught between the spokes. I’m pretty sure this memory is accurate, since I had to see a doctor and there is a dated medical record. It’s a brief, snapshot-like memory, black-and-white. I don’t remember any pain, but I do remember the consternation among my mom and her sisters.

Looking back on this memory from a professional perspective, I would say that it has the flash-like character typical for first memories from before age 3; ‘later’ first memories are usually a bit longer and more elaborate. It also fits the pattern of being about pain and danger. Roughly three in four first memories are associated with negative emotions. This may have an evolutionary origin: I never again had my foot between the spokes. And neither have any of my children.

[Q:] "Forgetting" is usually thought about in a negative sense but you come to it with a different perspective. Can you explain how you arrived at this way of thinking?

[A:] Psychologist Endel Tulving once counted how many different types of memory there are and he came up with a staggering figure of 256, each with their own laws of encoding, retention, reproduction, and so on. Then it dawned on me that there must also be a multitude of types of forgetting. Considering that we forget so much more than we remember, it is fair to say that the core business of memory is forgetting. After the switch, the topics came in swift procession. Why is it that your colleague remembers your idea, but seems to have forgotten that it was your idea? Why do portraits tend to eclipse our memories of faces? Why is there an art of memory, but no art of forgetting? See?

[Q:] Why does a colleague remember an idea, but not whose idea it was?

[A:] This phenomenon is actually a nice demonstration of the fact that we should think of ‘memory’ as a federation of different types of memory. Suppose you’re in a meeting with colleagues, discussing some problem. You come up with a suggestion, but is is decided someone else’s solution will be tried first. This situation activates two types of memories. Autobiographical memory takes care of retaining who was there, whether it was a morning or an afternoon meeting, perhaps even what the weather was like that day. Semantic memory retains the facts of the matter: what the problem was, which solutions were suggested, etc. The trouble is, semantic memory has trouble remembering sources and circumstances. Most of the facts you remember – such as the meaning of ‘incubation’ or the capital of Sweden – are just the facts, and you have probably forgotten who told you or where you read this. A week later, at a follow-up of the meeting, you may find that your colleague has retained your idea, thanks to his wonderful semantic memory, but has forgotten its source – you.

[Q:] And, tell me what an “art of forgetting” might look like — why would that be useful, and what might some of its techniques be?

[A:] Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, there is no such a thing as deliberate forgetting. Rather the reverse, we seem to have a very tenacious type of memory for the things we would gladly forget, such as childhood humiliations, embarrassing situations or scenes you had rather not witnessed. But even if there were some technique of forgetting, of editing at will what you remember or forget, most people tell me they would hesitate to do so. Consider the movie Eternal Sunshine on a Spotless Mind, which is a profound thought experiment on the averse consequences of deliberate forgetting. In the movie, Clementine and Joel were in a loving relationship when things turned sour. Clementine ends the relation and, moreover, wants to get him out of her memory as well. It then turns out that there is an obscure medical company, Lacuna Inc (!), specialized in erasing memories no longer wanted. Soon Joel has disappeared from her memory. On learning this, Joel wants the same treatment to get her out of his memory. At this point you may already sense the tenor of the story. They meet again, fall in love again, and again the relationship fails. Without painful memories you may find yourself repeating painful situations. So, not being able to forget what you dearly would like to forget may actually be a blessing in disguise.

[Q:] What light do dreams shed on how and why we forget?

[A:] Waking from a dream and then trying to remember it is much like watching the movie Memento: you try to grasp a story that is told in reverse chronological order. After all, you wake up with the final scene of the dream-story, and then try to remember what led up to this final scene. Julius Nelson, an American biologist, pointed this out in 1888. Reconstructing the dream-story means hunting it down till you finally reach the beginning. And since this is a time-consuming and elaborate process you will often find that the beginning of the dream is forgotten before you get there. To me, this demonstrates that our memory operates best with stories in their natural chronology, where you have causes and questions first and consequences and answers later.

[Q:] I wonder, do you see any connection between forgetting and sleepwalking, where someone wakes up, but fails to forget the dream in some sense?

[A:] The paradox of sleepwalking is that we do this during ‘deep sleep’, not during ‘rem-sleep’, when we are close to waking. Most of the dreams we remember are dreamt during rem-sleep. During deep sleep there is hardly any recollection of dreams, either because we dream less or because we are too far away from a conscious state to remember them. That is probably why people who are sleepwalking seldom remember having been sleepwalking as a result of some dream. If there was a dream at all, it is usually remembered in an extremely sketchy way, such as ‘something with a tomato cage’ (as in the YouTube-hit ‘My mom sleepwalking’)."
memory  forgetting  douwedraaisma  via:anne  garethcook  dreams  dreaming  sleepwalking  sleep  endeltulving  psychology  juliusnelson  biology  consciousness 
may 2015 by robertogreco
What is it About Animals? |
"We know that animals play important roles in our social, cultural and political lives, as loved ones, friends and companions, workers, ‘livestock’, ‘products’ and ‘commodities’. For instance, in Australia, 63 percent of households include a companion animal, many people living with companion animals consider them to be “family members” (estimates vary between 75-90 percent), and the pet animal industry contributes approximately AUD$4.74 billion annually to the economy (Australian Companion Animal Council, nd).

The bond between many humans and their animal companions is often very strong, invoking emotions of attachment and pleasure. Human–companion animal relationships may allow people to experience themselves and their lives in significantly different ways; ways that are very positive. Humans who describe themselves as ‘animal lovers’ usually see their pets as valued family members, whether (or not) these animals are substitute children, friends, protectors, and/or sources of companionship and affection. Also, plenty of people feel affection or even love towards animals they do not keep as companions or pets, such as native birds that visit them or injured wildlife that they help to care for until they are ready to be released into their habitat.

In this study we want to know how you experience animals you consider important; how you describe and feel about these relationships. We are keen to dig beneath the stereotypes to examine the perceptions of, and meanings attributed to, the relationships ‘animal lovers’ have with their companion animals or any other animals they feel affection towards. That is why we inviting participants to use a range of mediums or formats (e.g. photos, stories, videos, poems, paintings, drawings) to represent their human-animal relationships. Feel free to be creative and have fun."
via:anne  animals  multispecies  pets  niktaylor  heatherfraser  affection  wildlife  companionship  relationship  livestock  friendship  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
GEESE.PROJECT
"From unwanted animal towards usable material. Saving geese from destruction factory's."



"In the Netherlands we deal with an overpopulation of wild geese. At first the geese came to the Netherlands only to hibernate but now a days many of them stay the whole year. Not much of a problem would you think, let’s be happy for the geese. They found a place where they feel at home the whole year around!

Off course there’s a but… The geese cause a lot of damage in the agricultural sector, around airports and they disturb the biodiversity. They cause so much damage and commotion that the government decided to reduce the geese population with an amount of 100.000 a year.

What is going to happen with these geese?

The GEESE.PROJECT is about changing perception of an unwanted animal towards usable material. "

[See also: http://geeseproject.tumblr.com/ ]
geese  netherlands  animals  overpopulation  wildlife  nature  biodiversity  materials  via:anne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Taylor & Francis Online :: Minotaure: On Ethnography and Animals - Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures - Volume 67, Issue 1
"The surrealist magazine Minotaure (1933–39) demonstrated a vivid interest in ethnography as it set out to explore the “human” according to an early twentieth-century ethnographic conception of universality that proposed to undercut the rule of Western culture over the definition of humanity. The surrealists, however, went even further by extending this exploration to the animal: The pages of Minotaure constantly juxtapose humans and animals and bring forth an empirical redefinition of the human through the observation of its purported other. As a result, they give shape to a nonanthropocentric ethnography that searches for the “sources” of humanity apart from familiar Western humanist presuppositions. Their endeavor raises important questions about ethnography itself as it brings us in a novel way to this fundamental question: What constitutes the human, beyond the pervasive divide between culture and nature?"
2013  via:anne  humanism  minotaure  surrealism  ethnography  anthropocentrism  animals  affierentzou  1930s  culture  nature 
march 2015 by robertogreco
VINCIANE DESPRET: Lecture (part 1 of 2) - YouTube
"WHERE ARE WE GOING, WALT WHITMAN?

An ecosophical roadmap for artists and other futurists

Conference -- festival that took place from 12--15 March, 2013 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

Gabriëlle Schleijpen, head of Studium Generale Rietveld Academie invited Anselm Franke, Binna Choi, Carolyn Christof - Bakargiev, Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl to each inaugurate a discursive and performative program of one day.

Friday March 15

POIESIS OF WORLDING

Bringing together research, art, and various approaches and concerns relating to ecology, artist Ayreen Anastas, author, researcher, organiser of events and exhibitions, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, writer, philosopher and ethologist Vinciane Despret, artist Rene Gabri, artist and rural sociologist Fernando García-Dory and interdisciplinary artist Marcos Lutyens explored collectively what a 'poiesis of worlding' could involve. What could be a process of re-apprehending and re-animating worlds which our current systems of knowledge and understanding exclude? And how do such foreclosures relate to some of the most pressing challenges of our time? Departing from a lecture program by playing with predefined lecture protocols and later opening a space for shared doing-thinking, the day's journey was split into two parts which were sewn together by a collective hypnosis.

http://wherearewegoingwaltwhitman.rietveldacademie.nl/
http://gerritrietveldacademie.nl/en/ "

[part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD77gU0XjMk]
vincianedespret  animals  storytelling  2013  via:anne  ethology  ecosophy  perspective  science  pov  multispecies  empathy  knowing  waysofknowing  waltwhitman  agency  poiesis  worlding  interdisciplinary  art  arts  ayreenanastas  meaning  meaningmaking  carolynchristov-bakargiev  perception  renegabri  fernandogarcía-dory  marcoslutyens  knowledge  future  futurism  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  worldbuilding  being  feeling  seeing  constructivism  richarddawkins  theselfishgene 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Watch the Trailer for Motherboard's Documentary 'The Grind' | Motherboard
"The Faroe Islands are a tiny archipelago in the North Atlantic, and those who live there have always relied on the sea to survive. This includes seabirds, fish, and pilot whales, which the Faroese hunt for food in a slaughter they call "the grind." 

In recent years, activists from the conservation organization Sea Shepherd have conducted extensive campaigns in the islands to attempt to stop the grind. 

In the summer of 2014, we went to the Faroes to see for ourselves how the rural realities of Faroese life conflict with environmentalist idealism, and how the ancient hunting tradition continues to play out in an increasingly modernizing world."
faroeislands  environment  environmentalism  whales  wildlife  nature  2015  via:anne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Anthropology is so important, all children should learn it - The Ecologist
"Anthropology, the study of humankind, should be the first of all the sciences our children encounter, writes Marc Brightman, with its singular capacity to inspire the imagination, broaden the mind and open the heart. Moves to downgrade it in the education system by those who know the price of everything, and the value of nothing, must be fought off.

Anthropology has been in the news because its A-level, only introduced in 2010, is under threat.

This discipline has never been more important at a time of troubling intolerance in society, but it does far more than merely help understand ethnic diversity.

Anthropology includes biological, linguistic and medical fields as well as social and cultural ones, and is as much about human ecology as it is about the 'ecology of mind', to recall the title of Gregory Bateson's classic work. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_to_an_Ecology_of_Mind ]

I can remember when I was choosing what to study at University. I loved languages, literature, history and art, and I yearned to travel. But I had never heard of anthropology.

It was only later, as a student of English literature, that I read Lévi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques and was spellbound by the story he told of his experience of the degradation of the environment by colonialism, and of the mental worlds of the Bororo and Nambikwara people, which were so close to having been obliterated.

Many of my students tell me similar stories of how they discovered anthropology by accident, and when I tell them about the anthropology A-level they say they wish they could have taken it at their school.

Anthropology is a key to ecology as well as culture

Lévi-Strauss's melancholy tone, expressed in the title of his book, comes from witnessing the erosion of both cultural and biological diversity. Rooted in older disciplines closer to the natural sciences, such as geography and biology, as well as in humanities and social sciences, anthropology is about human ecology, different ways of being in the physical world, and about sustainability - not just culture and identity.

It is good that the press has recently covered the well justified protests against the axing of the anthropology A-level before it has even been given a chance to take root (most schools still do not have the capacity to offer it). But the reports emphasise only the value of anthropology for understanding cultural difference.

Yes, it is true that anthropology can help us to understand and relate to different cultures, different ways of being in the world. It can certainly offer ways to educate people to become more tolerant of diversity. But anthropology is much more than this.

In the face of a global ecological crisis which most of the press fails to take seriously, the discipline also has much to offer. Anthropologists are well known for documenting traditional livelihoods, which are often sustainable adaptations to environments which would be difficult to live in without rich bodies of traditional knowledge and practice to draw upon.

As The Ecologist frequently reports, many indigenous peoples have a wealth of traditional knowledge, which is embedded in complex sets of practices that are compatible with, and indeed founded upon, long term ecological relations.

Anthropologists have been at the forefront of efforts to understand these practices and to bring them to the attention of the wider world. We show how people manipulate their environments to make them more productive, rather than depleting the resources that they find - examples of anthropogenic forest islands or dark earths are cases in point.

The myth of 'wilderness'

Land that is not intensively farmed is often all too easily labelled as 'wilderness', and incorporated into the economist's category of 'natural capital', inviting the naïve conclusion that by subjecting it to the laws of supply and demand it will find its true value.

But the value of land, as my work on REDD+ has shown, alongside many other anthropological studies, cannot be simply reduced to exchange value on the market, and attempts to do so can be severely harmful to people and to the environment.

My colleague at UCL, Jerome Lewis, has shown how the sharing economy of Mbendjele hunter gatherers in Congo-Brazzaville, and their intimate relationship with the forest, are invisible to neighbouring farmers, logging companies and conservation organisations, often leading to dispossession and abuse, as others have shown in this magazine.

In my own work, in collaboration with Brazilian scholars, I have shown how ownership plays a fundamental role in structuring social relations among native Amazonian peoples.

When states and extractive industrial actors make claims to land on the basis that it is not used - that it is terra nullius - they often do so in profound ignorance of both indigenous practices and indigenous property regimes. Anthropologists are often well placed to mediate in such cases.

Is the real problem that it's seen as 'subversive'?

The noises made by the Education Secretary about academic 'rigour' ring false as an excuse for axing anthropology, a discipline which at its best combines scientific precision with the critical awareness of the humanities.

Anthropologists also provide robust, evidence based critiques of the assumptions of policy makers and technocrats who offer tempting 'win-win' solutions to problems of sustainable development. Far too many well-meaning development projects do not take detailed account of situations on the ground, and fail in their objectives, with unintended and sometimes destructive consequences, both for the environment and for native inhabitants.

Perhaps for this reason anthropology is perceived as too subversive - it does indeed foster critical thinking that can be uncomfortable for those in power, especially in the hands of incisive and influential critics of the establishment such as David Graeber.

Successive governments have made claims to basing their policies on scientific knowledge. But the fact is that they usually only do so when it suits them, and scientific arguments are taken piecemeal to justify preconceived policy objectives.

The idea of natural capital has been enthusiastically taken up by policymakers from economists such as Partha Dasgupta, because it can be used to bolster a bold new rhetoric about launching a 'green economy', while in reality making few fundamental changes to business as usual.

The natural capital paradigm is not necessarily something to be rejected wholesale, but it must be recognised for what it is: a universalising discourse which has very particular historical origins in Western capitalism.

'Nature' is not an object, and is not separate from culture, for many peoples of the world. Indeed many of the 'natural' landscapes that conservation organisations try to preserve are the product of efforts over the centuries of indigenous peoples - the very peoples who are all too often evicted to make way for hunting lodges, plantations or 'carbon sinks' that only benefit the wealthy.

We should all study anthropology - beginning at primary school!

There is an increasing consensus among those involved in addressing the global ecological crisis that the natural sciences and economics cannot succeed without input from the arts, humanities and social sciences, as a recent conference at UCL resoundingly showed.

Anthropologists routinely deal with local and global phenomena, working at the interface of the arts and the sciences. We have something very important to contribute, and sometimes we are given this opportunity.

The director of the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity is an anthropologist (Henrietta Moore); an anthropologist, Steven Rayner, has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Royal Society's Working Group on Climate Geoengineering; and an anthropologist, Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, serves on the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

So anthropological knowledge is in demand, and not merely in the field of cultural identity. To limit the argument about the value of the anthropology A-level to identity politics does a disservice to the discipline.

Anthropology provides students at any level with the critical awareness need for key issues of our times, which are not just religion and ethnicity, but also global sustainability, biocultural diversity and environmental governance. It also gives an excellent preparation for the study of other, more established disciplines such as history, English literature or geography.

More anthropologists are needed in public life, and then the discipline will really influence society and the environment - and very much for the better.

Far from axing the anthropology A-level, the government should support its expansion into the school system at all levels. When I arranged for Nixiwaka Yawanawá of Survival to speak to my son's primary school in Oxford, he gave a basic anthropology lesson to a packed assembly of children aged from four years old upwards, and created a real sensation.

Parents and teachers, as well as children themselves, came to me for weeks afterwards to comment on what a powerful and inspiring experience it had been.

Opening children's eyes, from the earliest ages, to the wonders of cultural diversity, and the different ways of living sustainably in the world, ought surely to be a core aim of our education system."
anthropology  education  gregorybateson  claudelevi-strauss  2015  marcbrightman  children  learning  curriculum  via:anne  k12  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  howwelearn  culture  religion  ethnicity  sustainability  diversity  environment  identity  henriettamoore  anthropologists  davidgraeber  parthadasgupta  jeromelewis  wildreness  ecology  anthropocene  howweteach  global  cv 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Knyttan and the question of design autonomy | Material World
"Although I found the project’s motivation to make production visible, to relate production to consumption even in an industrial context and to draw us back into the relational nature of clothing, I do not entirely agree with the way they promote their unique offering. While I did enjoy the playfulness of designing ‘my’ jumper, I remained nonetheless disappointed by the limits that had been set in terms of design and creativity. How could choosing from four pre-defined designs, a few pre-set colour combinations, fixed sizes as well as fiddling around on a tablet possibly fulfil the promise of ‘designing my own’? How could the design of someone else magically transform into my own by being given only a handful of altering options? The knitters I worked with in Austria would have quite a different view on what it means to design your own jumper.

Putting aside the fact that in the knyttan project design and making are necessarily divorced from each other, which would probably be the main difference between hand knitting and knyttan, we are dealing with two very diverging notions of design autonomy here. In the first case, designing is much more like customising, which means the pre-existing design will only be transformed to the extent that it is still recognisable as such. The original (professional) designer is still visible in the design, albeit some parameters of the design have been altered.

In the second case, designing (and making) means matching (relations of) relations between yarn, needles, pattern, cut and the knitting as well as the body that is destined to wear it. Always underpinned by intentions which are themselves grounded in social relations (cf. Gell 1998), design is an empathetic process which correlates the myriad possibilities of yarn weight, yarn quality, yarn colour, needle size, pattern (does it stretch or not?), cut (waisted or not?), knitting and wearing body to each other. In this case, designing your own pullover means relating needle-to-yarn-to-pattern-to cut-to-body and materialising these relations in practice. In doing so, the designs render the knitters, their skills and their preferences with respect to yarn quality and colour visible. Although knitters nowadays mostly draw on industrially produced yarn and colour ranges that are themselves constrained by the fashion industry, the possible combinations are unquestionably more diverse. The possibilities of harmonising one’s internal self and with its textile externalisation in the design and making processes are therefore equally manifold.

But then again, knyttan does not define itself within the framework of hand knitting, but within the conventional fashion industry. In that sense, one cannot criticise them for their limitations in relation to hand knitting, but one must instead acknowledge that their ambition is quite extraordinary within the context of the dominant fashion industry. Design autonomy, then, equally needs to be seen as relative to the context within which the concept is used. Whereas costumers who usually consume ready-made clothing will appreciate the chance to be granted a participation in the design process, in light of the limitedness of participation possibilities adept knitters might, however, regard it as a sham."
knyttan  via:anne  2015  lydiamariaarantes  haidygeismar  knitting  design  autonomy  textiles  fashion  participation  participatory 
march 2015 by robertogreco
White God - Official Trailer - YouTube
"Winner of Cannes Film Festival's Prize Un Certain Regard Award and official selection of Sundance Film Festival, White God premieres in theatres March 27th, 2015.

Kornel Mundruczo’s newest film is a story of the indignities visited upon animals by their supposed “human superiors,” but it’s also an brutal, beautiful metaphor for the political and cultural tensions sweeping contemporary Europe. When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen, because it's mixed-breed heritage is deemed 'unfit' by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. At the same time, all the unwanted, unloved and so-called 'unfit' dogs rise up under a new leader, Hagen, the one-time housepet who has learned all too well from his 'Masters' in his journey through the streets and animal control centers how to bite the hands that beats him …"

[See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_God
http://www.magpictures.com/whitegod/
http://whitegodfilm.com/

Sundance clip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox2BiuaiBqo ]
dogs  film  animals  pets  human-animalrelations  mutts  towatch  via:anne  whitegod  multispecies  hungary  edg  srg  glvo  human-animalrelationships  kornélmundruczó 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 34, Jean Cocteau
"If the ideas come, one must hurry to set them down out of fear of forgetting them. They come once; once only. On the other hand, if I am obliged to do some little task—such as writing a preface or notice—the labor to give the appearance of easiness to the few lines is excruciating. I have no facility whatever. Yes, in one respect what you say is true. I had written a novel, then fallen silent. And the editors at the publishing house of Stock, seeing this, said, You have too great a fear of not writing a masterpiece. Write something, anything. Merely to begin. So I did—and wrote the first lines of Les Enfants Terribles. But that is only for beginnings—in fiction. I have never written unless deeply moved about something. The one exception is my play La Machine à Écrire. I had written the play Les Parents Terribles and it was very successful, and something was wanted to follow. La Machine à Écríre exists in several versions, which is very telling, and was an enormous amount of work. It is no good at all. Of course, it is one of the most popular of my works. If you make fifty designs and one or two please you least, these will nearly surely be the ones most liked. No doubt because they resemble something. People love to recognize, not venture. The former is so much more comfortable and self-flattering.

It seems to me nearly the whole of your work can be read as indirect spiritual autobiography. "
jeancocteau  resemblance  comfort  interviews  adventure  via:anne  1964  ideas  memory  forgetting  writing  howwewrite 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Who’s to blame for the digital time deficit? – Judy Wajcman – Aeon
"For all the smart tech, we still feel pressed for time. Are digital services the problem, or are we humans to blame?"

"More than 40 years ago, as a young woman in Melbourne, Australia, I had a pen friend in Papua New Guinea. She lived in a coastal village, an hour’s slow boat trip from the city of Lae. I went to visit her. The abundant tropical fruit, vegetables such as taro and sweet potato, and fish fresh from the sea made up for the mosquitoes that plagued me. No one was in a rush to do anything.

We spent an entire day making coconut milk. I suggested a different way to squeeze the coconut flesh that would allow us to make the milk faster. The young New Guineans looked quizzical. Making coconut milk always took a whole day. There was no hurry, they said. Today I see my interest in saving time and increasing productivity as a peculiar and interesting cultural eccentricity.

Life in the 21st century, we are told, is faster than ever. Time is scarce, the pace of everyday life is accelerating, and everyone complains about how busy they are. High‑speed traders make millions in milliseconds, and people go speed dating where dates lasts around five minutes. Technological innovation, we hear, is dynamic, disruptive, unfolding geometrically, changing everything. But is it true? Digital technology products claim to shrink space and collapse time while also promising to save us valuable time and free us for life’s important things.

If we believe Silicon Valley, a faster, constantly accelerating world is the problem, and the solution is more speed. Apps for better time-management are proliferating. Self-logging wristbands that track everything from heart rates and sleep patterns to mood fluctuations enable us to better monitor our activities. At my local swimming pool in London, I can wear a bracelet to let me know how efficient my swim strokes are. In case I didn’t know this, a flashing sign at the pool reminds me of this app. Some Californian IT geeks have even resorted to liquid food. Sitting down to enjoy, much less cook, a leisurely meal, is squandering time. Time is under assault. It must be saved. Whether it’s Siri or Cortana (the helpful, accommodating female voice) on your phone, ‘she’ lets you ‘use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings and place phone calls’ while, driving or exercising. Less time, more speed.

If digital technology saves time, how come so many of us feel rushed and harried? Technological utopians once dreamt of the post-industrial society as one of leisure. Instead, we are more like characters in Alice in Wonderland, running ever faster and faster to stand still. Is digital technology at once the cause of time pressure and its solution? Is Sherry Turkle right when she argues in Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2011) that social media has replaced communicating with connecting? Is Tim Wu, a leading authority on net neutrality, right when he says that ‘attention’ is the new scarce resource?"



"Of course, there is a difference between objective quantity of time passing and peoples' experience of that time. Minutes, hours or days can feel either interminable or fleeting, depending on the person and the activity. This is why time-use studies are important. Time-use studies – where people keep detailed daily diaries about what they actually do – help mitigate against the subjective experience of time so we know better how people actually spend their time. Importantly, time-use studies show that, overall, the amount of leisure we have has not decreased. Of course, it varies a great deal between different groups (for example, between professionals who work long hours but are time-poor, and the time-rich who work few or no hours but are poor), but in the past half-century, overall leisure time has remained about the same."



"So does it matter, then, what sort of machinery we have? Are digital technologies at all complicit in our sense of time pressure? I think it matters a great deal. Our cultural expectations of speed are constantly fed by technological innovation, but not always in predictable or envisioned ways, and certainly not always in the ways promised by tech innovators.

Even if actual implementation often finds technology doing things that its designers did not envision, the tools still matter. Human beings build the present and imagine the future with tools designed for certain purposes, and there are more reasons than ever to think about what kind of society we want those tools to advance."



"The constant upgrading of computer software and hardware is another example. I went to the Apple store to get my iPod repaired and was told: ‘Two years old, madam! We certainly can’t repair things that are two years old.’ Much of so-called innovation is trivial; it is really a way of locking people into existing products, enforced obsolescence and higher profits. The flip side of accelerated novelty production – the continual simulation of the new – is a mounting pile of trash.

Would a computer that lasted years, could be easily updated, repaired and upgraded, and was easy to learn and use, be better for most people than a computer that came with new software and features every few years but had to be replaced? The time it takes us to maintain our digital infrastructure at home, the work of continually upgrading our machines and getting used to new software, is significant. This real consumption of time is never discussed by the tech industry. Their story, and the temporal story of technology that we tend to favour, is the early moments of inception and the heroic inventors. What about the breakdowns, the maintenance and the repairs? What about that ever-mounting pile of plastic trash? I don’t know where to draw the line, but I am certain these questions need to be considered.

To be absolutely clear, I’m not nostalgic for a more natural, less digitised past. Neither do I see the emerging slow time movements (whether it’s Slow Food or mindfulness) as the solution. Individualistic adaptations will not solve problems requiring collective, societal wide change. The emancipatory potential of new technological developments is real and, to me, fascinating. I’ve spent most of my life studying them. One thing I have learned however is that innovation is not imagination, and that the world imagined by tech visionaries is not in fact such a brave or new one.

If technology is going to contribute to a better world, people must think about the world in which they want to live. Put simply, it means thinking about social problems first and then thinking of technological solutions, rather than inventing technologies and trying to find problems they might solve.

We can’t do this while the people who design our technology and decide what is made are so unrepresentative of society. The most powerful companies in the world today – such as Microsoft, Apple and Google – are basically engineering companies and, whether in the US or Japan, they employ few women, minorities or people over 40. Recently, Jesse Jackson, the American civil rights leader, has called attention to the tiny number of women, Hispanics and African Americans employed by tech industries. Such skewed organisational demographics inevitably influence the kind of technology produced."



"Futuristic visions based on how technology can speed up the world tend to be inherently conservative, or even sometimes regressive. They do not pose imaginative or challenging questions about alternative social relationships and ways of life. The future on offer is one in which everything is faster and easier, but stays the same.

If we feel pressed for time today, it is not because of technology, but because of the priorities and parameters we ourselves set. Digital time is no different – ultimately it needs to be understood as a product of the ways in which humans use, interact with and indeed build technology. If we want technology to bring us a better future, we must contest the imperative of speed and democratise engineering. We must bring more imagination to the field of technological innovation. Most of all, we must ask bigger questions about what kind of society we want. Technology will follow, as it usually does."
technology  productivity  efficiency  2015  judywajcman  speed  digital  time  innovation  well-being  leisure  slow  parenting  busyness  hyperproductivity  environment  via:anne  society  work 
march 2015 by robertogreco
What scares the new atheists | John Gray | World news | The Guardian
"The vocal fervour of today’s missionary atheism conceals a panic that religion is not only refusing to decline – but in fact flourishing"



"Above all, these unevangelical atheists accepted that religion is definitively human. Though not all human beings may attach great importance to them, every society contains practices that are recognisably religious. Why should religion be universal in this way? For atheist missionaries this is a decidedly awkward question. Invariably they claim to be followers of Darwin. Yet they never ask what evolutionary function this species-wide phenomenon serves. There is an irresolvable contradiction between viewing religion naturalistically – as a human adaptation to living in the world – and condemning it as a tissue of error and illusion. What if the upshot of scientific inquiry is that a need for illusion is built into in the human mind? If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.

Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them."
johngray  atheism  culture  2015  via:anne  religion  belief  values  liberalism  christianity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
If leftwingers like me are condemned as rightwing, then what’s left? | Tim Lott | Comment is free | The Guardian
"I am a “lefty”. I have voted Labour all my life. I believe in the abolition of public schools and the inviolability of the NHS, and that the renewal of Trident is a vanity project. I believe the state must work to ensure equality of opportunity for all: women, the LBGT “community”, those with disabilities, those of minority cultures and ethnicities, and the working class. The Guardian has been my newspaper forever. I was glad to see the back of the Sun’s Page 3, and I believe there should be more all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. I believe immigration is more of a positive force than a negative one.

However, you might be less certain about my status when I finish laying out my stall. Because I find myself holding a “transgressive” body of beliefs and doubts alongside my blue-chip leftwing ones that are liable to get me branded a misogynist, an Islamophobe and a Little Englander – at least by people on my Twitter feed, and others of my peer group.

These “beliefs” are more like questions, largely about identity politics, those deep and dangerous rift valleys of the left. I believe the jury is still out about whether gender identity is entirely constructed. I question whether the gender pay gap in Britain is as large as is sometimes suggested, and wonder whether it may have as much to do with the way it is calculated and with the choices women make after having children as it does with patriarchy or prejudice (although the government could do more to close the gap by funding childcare better). There is huge work to do to liberate women from the very real yoke of patriarchy. But I would venture – checking my privilege – that this is not a crisis in Britain in way it is in the developing world.

I am not convinced jihadists have “nothing to do” with Islam – although this strikes me as a largely theological and semantic point. I am wary of even moderate Islam for the same reason I am wary of even moderate Christianity: because I am an atheist and a humanist and a social liberal, and consider most religions to be counter-rational and socially conservative. To acknowledge that grooming gangs and FGM and tendencies towards homophobia and gender oppression have arisen out of some of the matrices of Muslim practices and belief systems adds to my unease.

I believe more in free speech than I do in “safe spaces” in universities. I do not think people with unpleasant opinions should be prosecuted, or even denied a platform, unless they directly threaten to incite violence or lawbreaking. I do not think “political correctness” is a myth – although I would prefer the term groupthink – but that it is a system of thought that has a real impact on public policy and institutional behaviour.

I think of myself as English rather than British, and have some residual affection for my country – though for reasons of its humour, cultural imagination and common grassroots culture rather than its imperial past.

My stance on these issues makes some people in my “tribe” very angry. It is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate. However, I can find echoes of my populist worldview in one strand of the left – that represented by the Spiked web magazine, which grew out of the ashes of Living Marxism and the Revolutionary Communist party, once known as the libertarian or anti-Stalinist left. Describing their philosophy as radical humanism, they poke and prod at the sacred cows of the left but from a socialist rather than a rightwing populist position. The fact that I enjoy Spiked – although I by no means agree with all of it – feels like dirty little secret. But that’s what the mainstream left specialises in: generating shame.

This shame comes from the phenomenon of what I call assumption creep – the assumption that if you believe one thing you probably believe another thing, which you are hiding. If you believe women behave differently in the real world from men, whether for cultural or biological reasons, you also (secretly) believe women are more suited for domestic life than careers.

That if you believe religion, including Islam, is the source of much conflict in the world you also (secretly) believe all Muslims are potential terrorists and you (secretly) dislike immigrants to boot. That if you have a particular attachment to your country, defined as England rather than Britain, you keep a St George’s flag and a knuckle-duster in the back of your drawer. These supposed secret assumptions are the primary source of censure from leftwing critics of the “paradoxical voice” – which is the term I use to describe the thinking of “non-pure” leftwing thinkers.

Assumption creep may be accurate in some cases. We all know about the “I’m not a racist, but … ” arguments. But more often than not, it simply isn’t true. To insist otherwise is lazy. It’s just a way of making sure people who have opinions contrary to your own stay safely in their boxes – the boxes marked “bad people”. To actually address the issues is thus avoided, because who needs to debate with a bad person? It’s enough just to condemn them.

One very key element of the liberal left has long been under threat: its liberalism – that is, its willingness to debate with anything outside a narrow range of opinions within its own walls. And the more scary and incomprehensible the world becomes, the more debate is replaced by edict and prejudice: literally pre-judging. Identity politics is one of the most significant developments of the last 50 years, but it has led to nerves being exposed in a way they rarely were by economic issues. Because identity is less about politics and more about that most sensitive of human constructions, the protection of the self – both group and individual.

And the more it becomes about the protection of self, the less it becomes about the back and forth of rational argument. All the beliefs, opinions and doubts I hold are just that: they are ideas, not ironclad convictions. I am not certain about any of them, and am quite willing to change my mind, as I have done many times in the past. But I will not alter them if I am faced with invective rather than debate; in fact, they will become more entrenched.

Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens, David Aaronovich, Julie Burchill, Julie Bindel and others have often been at the rough end of this debate, for daring to voice opinions of their own that do not fit the overarching narrative. David Mamet’s admittedly provocative essay, Why I Am No Longer a “Brain-Dead Liberal”, published in the Village Voice, must have cost him a fair few dinner party invitations. This marginalisation is invidious, not only because it violates the principles of free debate – we cannot suppress awkward questions lest it “give succour to the enemy” – but because it is bound to alienate the wider public.

Those who identify with the “paradoxical voice” self-censor because they know they are going to get rocks thrown at them – not by their enemies but by their friends. That’s not only a bad feeling; it’s a tendency that’s bad for democracy, for politics, and the wider movement we call the left. And the left – in its compassion, freedom and concern for social justice – is the only hope for the future of this country."
via:anne  debate  discourse  politics  identitypolitics  2015  timlott  politicalcorrectness  liberalism  uk  shame  shaming  privilege  left  assumption  assumptioncreep  leftwing  purity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Hacked dog, a car that snoops on you and a fridge full of adverts: the perils of the internet of things | Technology | The Guardian
"In the not so distant future, every object in your life will be online and talking to one another. It’ll transform the way we live and work - but will the benefits outweigh the dangers?"



"For all the untold benefits of the IoT, its potential downsides are colossal. Adding 50bn new objects to the global information grid by 2020 means that each of these devices, for good or ill, will be able to potentially interact with the other 50bn connected objects on earth. The result will be 2.5 sextillion potential networked object-to-object interactions – a network so vast and complex it can scarcely be understood or modelled. The IoT will be a global network of unintended consequences and black swan events, ones that will do things nobody ever planned. In this world, it is impossible to know the consequences of connecting your home’s networked blender to the same information grid as an ambulance in Tokyo, a bridge in Sydney, or a Detroit auto manufacturer’s production line.

The vast levels of cyber crime we currently face make it abundantly clear we cannot even adequately protect the standard desktops and laptops we presently have online, let alone the hundreds of millions of mobile phones and tablets we are adding annually. In what vision of the future, then, is it conceivable that we will be able to protect the next 50bn things, from pets to pacemakers to self-driving cars? The obvious reality is that we cannot.

Our technological threat surface area is growing exponentially and we have no idea how to defend it effectively. The internet of things will become nothing more than the Internet of things to be hacked."
via:anne  iot  internetofthings  2015  connectivity  marcgoodman  security  susceptibility  advertising  surveillance  rfid 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The End of Creativity — Medium
"People living in the twentieth century heard a lot of talk about “creativity.” People living in the twenty-first century will not. Creativity is not dead yet, but its end is in sight. Alfred North Whitehead invented the word in 1926."

75 years later, it was one in every 70,000 words published and had become the name of a popular hypothesis: that new things are created by “geniuses” who solve problems by deliberately not thinking about them — a step called “incubation” — until they receive answers in sudden, dramatic moments of “insight.” One of the most frequently cited examples is attributed to Mozart:
“When I am, as it were, completely myself, and of good cheer, my ideas flow best and most abundantly. My subject stands almost complete in my mind. When I write down my ideas everything is already finished; and it rarely differs from what was in my imagination.”

These words, which I have edited for length, first appeared in a letter to Germany’s General Music Journal in 1815, then in many other places, including Jacques Hadamard’s 1945 The Mathematician’s Mind; Creativity, edited by Philip Vernon in 1976; and Roger Penrose’s 1989 The Emperor’s New Mind. They remain popular: in 2015, they have already appeared in at least one book and one journal.

But Mozart did not write them, they do not describe how he composed, and we have known this since 1856, when Mozart biographer Otto Jahn showed that they were forged.

"Why do so many people writing about creativity keep citing them as if they were true? Because there is little else to cite. Psychologists have been trying to prove the creativity hypothesis for nearly a hundred years. Their results are, at best, mixed.

In the 1920s, Stanford’s Lewis Terman sought to prove the existence of the general, hereditary superiority called “genius” by testing 168,000 children and placing them on a scale “from idiocy on the one hand to genius on the other.” He identified 1,500 “geniuses,” then tracked their accomplishments for the rest of their lives. Some did creative work, like making movies, but many did not. And what of the “non-geniuses” Terman rejected? Two, William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, won Nobel Prizes. Terman’s results are typical: all other attempts to predict future accomplishments by measuring “genius” have also failed.

“Incubation,” or solving problems by not thinking about them, has been widely studied. Berkeley’s Robert Olton spent the 1970s looking for it. In one experiment, he asked 160 people to solve a brainteaser, giving some breaks, while making others work continuously. The breaks made no difference. Olton was forced to conclude that,
“No evidence of incubation was apparent,” and added, “No study reporting evidence of incubation has survived replication by an independent investigator.”

And “insight” — the fully formed solution in a flash? German Gestalt psychologist Karl Duncker was one of the first to study that. In his most famous experiment, he gave people a box of tacks and a book of matches, and asked them to fix a candle to a wall so that it could be used as a reading light. The solution is to tack the tack-box to the wall — to see it as a thing for holding the candle, not a thing for holding the tacks. The shift from “tack-box” to “candle-holder” is the supposed “insight.” By having people think aloud, Duncker showed that the solution came incrementally, not instantly: everyone who discovered it thought of making a platform out of tacks, then realized the tack-box would be a better platform.

These experiments, although a few of hundreds, are representative. There is probably no such thing as creativity. But Duncker’s work laid the foundation for an alternative hypothesis: that extraordinary solutions come from ordinary people doing ordinary thinking. Robert Weisberg, a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, put it this way:
“Although the impact of creative ideas and products can sometimes be profound, the mechanisms through which an innovation comes about can be very ordinary.”




"This idea that extraordinary creations come from ordinary people and ordinary thinking has become more popular recently. Jon Gertner wrestled with the problem of “the great men versus the yeomen,” in The Idea Factory, his history of Bell Labs, and concluded that innovation needs both; Walter Isaacson found he had to tell the story of many lives, not one, to describe the invention of computing in his latest bestseller The Innovators; and Steven Johnson refutes the “non-explanation of genius” and argues that “innovation comes out of collaborative networks” in his new book and PBS television series, How We Got to Now.

It is an important change. We are rejecting the myths of “creativity” and developing a better understanding of how we create at a time when, because of the growing problems of our growing population, we need creation more than ever. We are not all equally creative, just as we are not all equally good at anything. But each of us is more like Mozart than not. We can all create, we can all contribute, and we all should."
via:anne  2015  creativity  incubation  ideas  ordinariness  kevinashton  jongertner  walterisaacson  stevenjohnson  innovation  robertburton  georgeherbert  diegodeestrella  johnofsalisbury  bernardofchartres  alberteinstein  ernstmach  carlfriedrichgauss  bernhardriemann  marcelgrossman  gregorioricci-curbastro  mozart  karldunker  ottojahn  alfrednorthwhitehead  lewisterman  genius  williamshockley  luisalvarez  psychology  robertolton  history  insight  ordinary 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Elke Vogelsang's dog portraiture - Telegraph
[See also: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/27/elke-vogelsang_n_5042132.html

“Elke Vogelsang has taken dog portraits to a new level.

After buying a compact camera a few months ago, the photographer from Hildesheim, Germany, decided to use it to start a photo series, Nice Nosing You, in which she takes humorous photos of her three rescue dogs, Today reported.” ]

[See also: http://www.today.com/pets/so-nosy-dogs-get-their-close-charming-photo-series-2D79435237 and
http://wieselblitz.de/schnauuuze-nice-nosing-you/ ]
dogs  pets  via:anne  cameras  photography  elkevogelsang  animals 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Fruit - Words Without Borders
"Through testing, we learned that the fruit has no brainwaves. We were quickly running out of ideas, but we simply couldn’t tolerate rogue fruit infiltrating Tokyo and corrupting public morals. It threatened everything the agency stood for. But the fruit was ultimately too fruitlike…"

[via: “a lovely example of more-than-human speculative ethnography” http://morethanhumanlab.tumblr.com/post/112580088180/through-testing-we-learned-that-the-fruit-has-no ]
via:anne  hideofurukawa  fruit  speculativeethnography  speculativefiction  designfiction 
march 2015 by robertogreco
DOGO!
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Enjoy the companionship of a sweet pup for whatever adventure you have planned that day, without the commitment of adoption.

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We offer an orientation through Family Dog Rescue.

Family Dog Rescue
Family Dog Rescue is devoted to pairing rescue dogs with people to create families. Their special mission is finding dogs who get along well with kids and adults. Many of these dogs are eager to get moving! They would love to join you for a walk, run, hike, beach or park day. You are able to get started after one 2 hour long orienation + one supervised walk.
www.norcalfamilydogrescue.org

255 Alabama Street
10am to 7pm everyday."
via:anne  pets  animals  dogs  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mesta - Wikipedia
"The Mesta (Spanish Honrado Concejo de la Mesta, which means "Honorable Council of the Mesta") was a powerful association of sheep ranchers in the medieval Crown of Castile.

The sheep were transhumant, migrating from the pastures of Extremadura and Andalusia to León and Castile and back according to the season.

The no-man's-land (up to 100 km across) between the Christian-controlled north and Moorish-controlled south was too insecure for arable farming and was only exploited by shepherds. When the Christians conquered the south, farmers began to settle in the grazing lands, and disputes with pastoralists were common. The Mesta can be regarded as the first, and most powerful, agricultural union in medieval Europe.

The export of merino wool enriched the members of the Mesta (the nobility and religious orders) who had acquired ranches during the process of Reconquista. Two of the most important wool markets were held in Medina del Campo and Burgos.

The kings of Castile conceded many privileges to the Mesta. The cañadas (traditional rights-of-way for sheep that perhaps date back to prehistoric times) are legally protected "forever" from being built on or blocked. The most important cañadas were called cañadas reales (or "royal cañadas"), because they were established by the king.

Some Madrid streets are still part of the cañada system, and there are groups of people who occasionally drive sheep across the modern city as a reminder of their ancient rights and cultures, although these days sheep are generally transported by rail."
animals  history  spain  españa  via:anne  cañadas  mesta  sheep  rightsofway 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Small acts, kind words and “not too much fuss”: Implicit activisms
"In this paper, we suggest that social scientists' accounts of ‘activism’ have too often tended to foreground and romanticise the grandiose, the iconic, and the unquestionably meaning-ful, to the exclusion of different kinds of ‘activism’. Thus, while there is a rich social-scientific literature chronicling a social history of insurrectionary protests and key figures/thinkers, we suggest that there is more to ‘activism’ (and there are more kinds of ‘activism’) than this. In short, we argue that much can be learnt from what we term implicit activisms which – being small-scale, personal, quotidian and proceeding with little fanfare – have typically gone uncharted in social-scientific understanding of ‘activism’. This paper will reflect upon one example of this kind of ‘implicit’ activism, by re-presenting findings from interviews undertaken with 150 parents/carers, during an evaluation of a ‘Sure Start’ Centre in the East Midlands, UK. From these interviews emerged a sense of how the Centre (and the parents/carers, staff and material facilities therein) had come to matter profoundly to these parents/carers. We suggest that these interviews extend and unsettle many social-scientific accounts of ‘activism’ in three key senses. First: in evoking the specific kinds of everyday, personal, affective bonds which lead people to care. Second: in evoking the kinds of small acts, words and gestures which can instigate and reciprocate/reproduce such care. And third: in suggesting how such everyday, affective bonds and acts can ultimately constitute political activism and commitment, albeit of a kind which seeks to proceed with ‘not too much fuss’."

[via: “This article on 'Small acts, kind words and “not too much fuss”: Implicit activisms’ just blew my mind http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1755458609000322 #paywall”
https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/564586799775764481

“As I’m more & more drawn to pacifism each year, I need to find words for my politics/ethics. Can’t stand being told I’m not doing enough.”
https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/564587538916974593 ]
small  activism  slow  2009  johnhorton  via:anne  peterkraftl  gestures  reciprocity  care  caring  bonds  affectivebonds  politics  commitment  scale  everyday  quotidian 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Believing that life is fair makes you a terrible person | Oliver Burkeman | Comment is free | The Guardian
"If you’ve been following the news recently, you know that human beings are terrible and everything is appalling. Yet the sheer range of ways we find to sabotage our efforts to make the world a better place continues to astonish. Did you know, for example, that last week’s commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz may have marginally increased the prevalence of antisemitism in the modern world, despite being partly intended as a warning against its consequences? Or that reading about the eye-popping state of economic inequality could make you less likely to support politicians who want to do something about it?

These are among numerous unsettling implications of the “just-world hypothesis”, a psychological bias explored in a new essay by Nicholas Hune-Brown at Hazlitt [http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/hazlitt/blog/monstrous-cruelty-just-world ]. The world, obviously, is a manifestly unjust place: people are always meeting fates they didn’t deserve, or not receiving rewards they did deserve for hard work or virtuous behaviour. Yet several decades of research have established that our need to believe otherwise runs deep. Faced with evidence of injustice, we’ll certainly try to alleviate it if we can – but, if we feel powerless to make things right, we’ll do the next best thing, psychologically speaking: we’ll convince ourselves that the world isn’t so unjust after all.

Hence the finding, in a 2009 study, that Holocaust memorials can increase antisemitism. Confronted with an atrocity they otherwise can’t explain, people become slightly more likely, on average, to believe that the victims must have brought it on themselves.

The classic experiment demonstrating the just-world effect took place in 1966, when Melvyn Lerner and Carolyn Simmons showed people what they claimed were live images of a woman receiving agonizing electric shocks for her poor performance in a memory test. Given the option to alleviate her suffering by ending the shocks, almost everybody did so: humans may be terrible, but most of us don’t go around being consciously and deliberately awful. When denied any option to halt her punishment, however – when forced to just sit and watch her apparently suffer – the participants adjusted their opinions of the woman downwards, as if to convince themselves her agony wasn’t so indefensible because she wasn’t really such an innocent victim. “The sight of an innocent person suffering without possibility of reward or compensation”, Lerner and Simmons concluded, “motivated people to devalue the attractiveness of the victim in order to bring about a more appropriate fit between her fate and her character.” It’s easy to see how a similar psychological process might lead, say, to the belief that victims of sexual assault were “asking for it”: if you can convince yourself of that, you can avoid acknowledging the horror of the situation.

What’s truly unsettling about the just-world bias is that while it can have truly unpleasant effects, these follow from what seems like the entirely understandable urge to believe that things happen for a reason. After all, if we didn’t all believe that to some degree, life would be an intolerably chaotic and terrifying nightmare in, which effort and payback were utterly unrelated, and there was no point planning for the future, saving money for retirement or doing anything else in hope of eventual reward. We’d go mad. Surely wanting the world to make a bit more sense than that is eminently forgivable?

Yet, ironically, this desire to believe that things happen for a reason leads to the kinds of positions that help entrench injustice instead of reducing it.

Hune-Brown cites another recent bit of evidence for the phenomenon: people with a strong belief in a just world, he reports, are more likely to oppose affirmative action schemes intended to help women or minorities. You needn’t be explicitly racist or sexist to hold such views, nor committed to a highly individualistic political position (such as libertarianism); the researchers controlled for those. You need only cling to a conviction that the world is basically fair. That might be a pretty naive position, of course – but it’s hard to argue that it’s a hateful one. Similar associations have been found between belief in a just world and a preference for authoritarian political leaders. To shield ourselves psychologically from the terrifying thought that the world is full of innocent people suffering, we endorse politicians and policies more likely to make that suffering worse.

All of which is another reminder of a truth that’s too often forgotten in our era of extreme political polarization and 24/7 internet outrage: wrong opinions – even deeply obnoxious opinions – needn’t necessarily stem from obnoxious motivations. “Victim-blaming” provides the clearest example: barely a day goes by without some commentator being accused (often rightly) of implying that somebody’s suffering was their own fault. That’s a viewpoint that should be condemned, of course: it’s unquestionably unpleasant to suggest that the victims of, say, the Charlie Hebdo killings, brought their fates upon themselves. But the just-world hypothesis shows how such opinions need not be the consequence of a deep character fault on the part of the blamer, or some tiny kernel of evil in their soul. It might simply result from a strong need to feel that the world remains orderly, and that things still make some kind of sense.

Facing the truth – that the world visits violence and poverty and discrimination upon people capriciously, with little regard for what they’ve done to deserve it – is much scarier. Because, if there’s no good explanation for why any specific person is suffering, it’s far harder to escape the frightening conclusion that it could easily be you next."
psychology  oliverburkeman  via:anne  fairness  injustice  victimblaming  violence  poverty  discrimination  suffering  policy  politics  individualism  religion  libertarianism  belief  nicholashune-brown  melvynlerner  carolynsimmons 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Read More, Write Less | Savage Minds
"Years ago, when I started returning to Havana, the city where I was born, I had the good fortune to be welcomed into the home of Cuban poet, Dulce María Loynaz. By then she was in her nineties, frail as a sparrow, nearly blind, and at death’s doorstep, but enormously lucid.

Inspired by her meditative Poemas sin nombre (Poems With No Name), I had written a few poems of my own, and Dulce María had the largeness of heart to ask me to read them aloud to her in the grand salon of her dilapidated mansion. She nodded kindly after each poem and when I finished I thought to ask her, “What advice would you give a writer?”

I’ll always remember her answer. It came without a moment’s hesitation and could not have been more succinct: Lee más, escribe menos, “Read more, write less.”

That might seem like old-fashioned advice in our world today, where so many of us aspire to write more. But having pondered Dulce María’s words, I think I now understand the significance of what she was saying.

It comes down to this: you can only write as well as what you read.

But when we read, we need to do so as writers, assessing the myriad decisions another writer made to produce a text we loved or hated, or worst of all, that left us totally indifferent.

For those of us who want to write ethnography, the first thing we must do is read ethnographies not as receptacles of information, which is how we are taught to read in graduate school, but in a writerly way.

Read Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture to learn how she uses the poetic tools of metaphor and repetition, emphasizing a line quoted from one of her interlocutors, “Our cup is broken,” to evoke the loss and melancholy felt by Native Americans in the aftermath of conquest and colonization.

Read Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men to learn how to create a talking-at-the-kitchen-table-with-a-friend voice that immediately draws you in as a reader: “And now, I’m going to tell you why I decided to go to my native village first. I didn’t go back there so that folks could make admiration over me because I had been up North to college and come back with a diploma and a Chevrolet.”

Read Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques to learn how to employ self-deprecating irony in the very first line of your book: “Travel and travellers are two things I loathe—and yet here I am, all set to tell the story of my expeditions.”

Read José Limón’s Dancing with the Devil to learn how to use interior monologue and humor to interrogate the very notion of doing fieldwork: “Been doing it since junior high school in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the late fifties. But I’m not very good at it… Consolation: I’m not here to dance, really. I’m an anthropologist. Forget consolation: Maybe I won’t be any good at that either.”

In these classic texts, you know who is telling the story and why. There is a strong authorial presence, to the extent that the writers share their misgivings about their writing, bringing you into the intimacy of their thought process. Each has a voice, unmistakable and memorable, impossible to confuse with any other, just like you can tell the difference between Van Gogh and Salvador Dalí. Hard as this is to reconcile with anthropology’s strong commitment to cultures, communities, and collectives, the best writers of ethnography are unflinching individualists. They don’t write swappable lab reports. They cultivate their sentiments; they attempt to express not just what they think but what they feel.

But reading ethnography alone isn’t enough to make us better writers. Our genre is a latecomer to the literary tradition, so it is necessarily a blurred genre that borrows from many other forms of writing.

We need to read poetry to understand silences and pauses. To challenge the oppression of punctuation. To learn how to make words sing. To liberate ourselves from chunky paragraphs.

We need to read fiction to learn how to tell a story with conflict, drama, and suspense. To learn how to tell a story that leaves us breathless.

We need to read memoir to learn how to write meaningfully about our own experiences.

Children’s books should be on our shelves, to keep our souls full of wonder.

We can’t read everything, but choose a genre or a set of authors that you put on a pedestal and read with pure awe and write towards that vision of perfection.

But you are no doubt wondering: how to move from reading to writing?

Don’t start with the information you want to convey. Ask yourself first what emotion is driving you to write. Anguish? Outrage? Regret? Amazement? Sorrow? Gratitude? Or is it a complex mix of feelings? Begin by acknowledging the heart.

Then dive into all you know with your head, all the things you have carried back to your desk. An ethnographer creates an archive from scratch, drawing on notes, recordings, documents, photographs, videos, and these days, even emails and Facebook posts. We are the guardians of what we witnessed. But significant as our research is, we shouldn’t dismiss memories that surface later when we sit down to write, memories of things we didn’t think worthy of being in the archive.

Immerse yourself in your archive in whatever way works for you, whether it’s jogging while listening to your recorded interviews or creating a visual narrative by organizing your pictures to tell a story. And spend time thinking about what you left unsaid, so you understand what you put in the frame, what counted and didn’t count as knowledge to you.

Write from the specific to the general, choosing images, events, encounters from your archive. Linger, using all the tools that feel right—dialogue, interior monologue, description, metaphor, and sensual details. Also write about the things that didn’t make it into your archive and ask yourself why you left them out. Keep going in this way, illuminating lots of small moments, until you see the shape of the larger narrative emerge. Eventually, if you wish, you can incorporate conversations with scholars and writers who have come before you, doing what is known as “the review of the literature” and “theorizing.” But focus on telling the story only you can tell, the story that is your responsibility, your gift.

Every ethnographer reinvents the genre of ethnography when sitting down to write. Our genre will always be quirky because it comes about through the magic of a unique intersection in time and space between a set of people and a person who wants to tell their story. This moment of shared mortality is improvised and fleeting, and won’t ever be repeated. There is something so spiritual about ethnography. We try to honor, with accuracy and poetry, a fragment of what was revealed to us.

Keep in mind that uncertainty will haunt you during the whole process of writing. Even after numerous revisions, you will likely fail to live up to the ideal of what you hoped to be able to write. When you finish, admit to yourself it’s flawed, but feel blessed that you told a story that was yours alone to tell.

Always remember, if you get stuck, your teachers, other writers living and dead, are right next to you. Your beloved authors are ready to show you how they resolved a problem that is vexing you. Those authors you hated, they’ll help you too, teaching you through counterpoint what kind of writer you want to be. As for the authors you found forgettable, let them go gently into that good night. Keep learning and keep trying. Read more, write less, and you will write better."
anthropology  writing  ethnography  glvo  via:anne  ruthbehar  howwewrite  listening  reading  howweread  uncertainty  storytelling  narrative  poetry  ethnographicwriting  zoranealhurston  ruthbenedict  claudelévi-strauss  josélimón 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Town Where Everyone Got Free Money | Motherboard
"The motto of Dauphin, Manitoba, a small farming town in the middle of Canada, is “everything you deserve.” What a citizen deserves, and what effects those deserts have, was a question at the heart of a 40-year-old experiment that has lately become a focal point in a debate over social welfare that's raging from Switzerland to Silicon Valley.

Between 1974 and 1979, the Canadian government tested the idea of a basic income guarantee (BIG) across an entire town, giving people enough money to survive in a way that no other place in North America has before or since. For those four years—until the project was cancelled and its findings packed away—the town's poorest residents were given monthly checks that supplemented what modest earnings they had and rewarded them for working more. And for that time, it seemed that the effects of poverty began to melt away. Doctor and hospital visits declined, mental health appeared to improve, and more teenagers completed high school.

“Do we have to behave in particular ways to justify compassion and support?” Evelyn Forget, a Canadian social scientist who unearthed ​some of the findings of the Dauphin experiment, asked me rhetorically when I reached her by phone. “Or is simply human dignity enough?”

Critics of basic income guarantees have insisted that giving the poor money would disincentivize them to work, and point to studies that show ​a drop in peoples' willingness to work under pilot programs. But in Dauphin—thought to be the largest such experiment conducted in North America—the experimenters found that the primary breadwinner in the families who received stipends were in fact not less motivated to work than before. Though there was some reduction in work effort from mothers of young children and teenagers still in high school—mothers wanted to stay at home longer with their newborns and teenagers weren’t under as much pressure to support their families—the reduction was not anywhere close to disastrous, as skeptics had predicted.

“People work hard and it’s still not enough,” Doreen Henderson, who is now 70 and was a participant in the experiment, told the ​Wi​nnipeg Free Pres​s​ in 2009. Her husband Hugh, now 73, worked as a janitor while she stayed at home with their two kids. Together they raised chickens and grew a lot of their own food. “They should have kept it,” she said of the minimum income program. “It made a real difference.”

The recovered data from “Mincome,” as the Dauphin experiment was known, has given more impetus to a growing call for some sort of guaranteed income. This year, the Swis​s Parliament will vote on whether to extend a monthly stipend to all residents, and the Indian government has already begun replacing aid programs with direct cash transfers. Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich has called a BIG “alm​ost inevitable.” In the US, Canada, and much of Western Europe, where the conversation around radically adapting social security remains mostly hypothetical, the lessons of Dauphin might be especially relevant in helping these ideas materialize sooner rather than later."



"Advocates have argued that a single coordinated program providing a base income is more efficient than the current panoply of welfare and social security programs and the bureaucracy required to maintain them (in the U.S. there are currently 79 means-tested social welfare programs, not including Medicare or Medicaid). “Existing social assistance programs were riddled with overlaps and gaps that allowed some families to qualify under two or more programs while others fell between programs,” says Forget.

When Mincome was first conceived, in the early '70s heyday of social welfare reform, some thought the experiment in Dauphin could be the prelude to a program that could be introduced across Canada. South of the border, there was widespread support for minimum income as well. A 1969 Harris poll for Life Magazine found that 79 percent of respondents supported a federal program President Nixon had proposed called the Family Assi​stance Plan that guaranteed a family of four an annual income of $1,600, or about $10,000 today. Nixon’s FAP plan (it wasn't guaranteed income, he insisted, but it was) made it through the House before it was killed in the Senate, voted down by Democrats. Still, there remained a sense of experimentation in the air. Four minimum income trials occurred in the US between 1968 and 1975, which appeared to show that the work hours of basic income recipients fell more sharply than expected.

But these experiments were done with small sample sizes; the experiment in Dauphin was unusual in that in encompassed a whole town. Forget, now a community health professor at the University of Manitoba who studies a range of social welfare programs, saw in the Mincome data a rare chance to examine the effects of BIG on a wider scale.

An undergrad in Toronto at the time the experiment was first being conducted, she remembers hearing about it in class. “My professor would tell us about this wonderful and important experiment taking place ‘out west’ that would revolutionize the way we delivered social programs.”

Years later, when she ended up “out west” herself, she began piecing together what information she could find about Dauphin. After a five-year struggle, Forget secured access to the experiment's data—all 1,800 cubic feet of it—which had been all but lost inside a warehouse belonging to the provincial government archives in Winnipeg. Since 2005, she’s been thoroughly analyzing it, carefully comparing surveys of Dauphin residents with those collected in neighboring towns at the time.

Forget's analysis of the data reveals that providing minimum income can have a substantial positive impact on a community beyond reducing poverty alone. “Participant contacts with physicians declined, especially for mental health, and more adolescents continued into grade 12,” she concludes in her paper, “The Town with No ​Poverty,” published in Canadian Public Policy in 2011. Forget also documented an 8.5 percent reduction in the hospitalization rate for participants as well, suggesting a minimum income could save health care costs. (Her research was unable to substantiate claims from US researchers that showed increases in fertility rates, improved neonatal outcomes or increased family dissolution rates for recipients of guaranteed incomes.)"



"When Forget looks at politics and culture and the economy now, she sees forces converging to create a more hospitable climate for minimum income experiments on a grander scale than before.

“This is an interesting time,” she said. “A lot of our social services were based on the notion that there are a lot of 40 hour-per-week jobs out there, full-time jobs, and it was just a matter of connecting people to those jobs and everything will be fine. Of course, one of the things we know is that’s certainly not the case, particularly for young people who often find themselves working in precarious jobs, working in contracts for long periods of time without the benefits and long-term support that those of us who have been around longer take for granted.”

In the Canadian context, at least, she said, “I’m optimistic enough to believe that at some point we are going to end up with a guaranteed income.”"
2015  manitoba  universalbasicincome  wellbeing  poverty  economics  dauphin  1970s  labor  income  mincome  switzerland  health  healthcare  education  mentalilliness  thomaspaine  martinlutherkinkjr  miltonfriedman  libertarianism  socialwelfare  motivation  via:anne  jamesmanzi  evelynforget  canada  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Works That Work — Magazine of Unexpected Creativity
"Works That Work Works That Work is an international magazine for the curious mind, intending to surprise its readers with a rich mix of diverse subjects connected by the theme of unexpected creativity that improved our lives. We publish original, in-depth essays and stories on subjects connected with design, presenting projects that challenge and change the way you perceive them. Perhaps most importantly, we hope to publish articles that make great dinner stories to tell your friends."



[Distribution: https://worksthatwork.com/distribution/
and https://vimeo.com/59732766

"Works That Work wants to examine often ignored areas of design. In the spirit of this aim, we also intend to bypass traditional distribution networks which typically take the largest part of the cover price, as well as control where the publication will be sold and at what price. Instead we would like to deepen our relationships with our readers, and make them partners in this enterprise. We call this social distribution. Read also about our Readers’ club."]
design  inspiration  magazines  typography  everyday  via:anne  creativity  art  worksthatwork 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Is it time to cut adrift from island thinking? – Libby Robin – Aeon
"Island-mindedness is born in island places, but the islands of the mind have a broad appeal. Is this hard-wired? Recognising an island of safety and refuge might have enabled our hominin ancestors to find stepping stones out of Africa in times of environmental stress. The concept of the island has long been prominent in literature and useful in science: biologists and geographers, national park managers and archaeologists, linguists, geneticists and evolutionary theorists have all turned at times to the model of the island. Yet it might no longer be a great model for the new needs and concerns of our rapidly globalising century."



"An island is as much metaphor as it is physical place. Nature and wilderness reserves became the real nature for quantitative biological theorists. They could ignore the complex stuff of urban development and human communities. An island could stand for the Garden of Eden, in an age when wilderness was the highest ideal for conservation.

Islands are also devices for thinking mathematically, for simplifying the real world and leaving out messy variables. MacArthur and Wilson were conscious of the complexity of the processes they wished to explain quantitatively – processes such as dispersal, invasion, competition, adaptation and extinction. An island-based theory, they acknowledged, left out ‘many of the most troublesome – and interesting – problems’. Ecological principles need sound theories and statistical significance if they are going to attract support from governments and policymakers. Ultimately, they argued, islands and continents need to be understood together, but the island was the basis for mathematical certainty – for laws – in the management of nature. Their final chapter, ‘Prospect’, argued that biogeography was mature enough to ‘be reformulated in terms of the first principles of population ecology and genetics’."



"The island had seemed an ideal field for ‘experimentation’, but island biogeography did not take sufficient account of time and history, and the assumption that the island’s ecological future was heading steadily towards some sort of ‘balance’ was misplaced. In 1986, the Finnish philosopher-ecologist Yrjö Haila argued that the equilibrium model had ‘ossified into a simple formula that began to suppress creative thinking instead of stimulating it’.

Haila advocated ‘a broader, pluralistic appreciation of the role of theories in general’. But ecologists have found it difficult to let go of the elegance and parsimony that equilibrium theories embody, and to see the way life works afresh without theoretical assumptions. In 2006, the ornithologist and oceanic island specialist David W Steadman argued: ‘Data that fail to support an ‘elegant’ model are often regarded as noise or the exception that proves the rule. Elegant models made by deified people die hard.’

Wilson’s fame gave the equilibrium theory a longer life than its data supported. The balance of nature was attractive beyond science, and it has a romantic following, particularly among conservationists and nature lovers who support the national parks and ‘wilderness’ ideals. The US Wilderness Act is now 50 years old, and things have moved on during the Great Acceleration of change in the same period.

Even as the theory of island biogeography was gaining supporters, the critique of the balance of nature was gathering pace within ecology. National parks and nature reserves management took for granted that nature could somehow heal itself, if protected from humanity. Experimental ideas about islands drove – and at times limited – the conservation agenda, because managers still indulged the idea that nature could be fenced off, or isolated from the threat of humanity. In the past half-century, during which the human population has more than doubled, theories for protecting nature from our overexploitation have proliferated. Biological extinctions have accelerated unabated."



"In the ‘post-national’ 21st century, borders are no longer as fixed as national jurisdictional law suggests. Australia has, at times, excised itself from its islands to handle the politics of asylum‑seeking. Would-be migrants, seeking refuge in Australia, are held on offshore islands until their status is legitimated or denied. By this means, successive Australian governments have deprived vulnerable people, including children, of basic human rights. For the sake of domestic political convenience, the nation of the plastic stencil sometimes defines itself without the islands where refugee boats land. The fact that people abandon nations and passports because of global pressures, because of the impossibility of being at home where they were born, is part of what is changing the nature of nations in a global world. People are no longer from where they came from. They become citizens of where they wash up, or the world. Island-mindedness – the separation of places from other places – is no longer an option.

In this global world, it is flows and circulation, rather than land parcels, that are important. Just as Google maps and GPS have become widespread, territoriality is changing. Flows are about land-and-sea-and-sky-and-people – a collective consciousness that is hard to represent on a 2D map or a phone app.

The island-minded idea of nature, separated from culture, has also changed. Some say we are at the ‘end of nature’: there is now a human signature on all the global flows: the biophysical system is also cultural, as the new epoch of the Anthropocene is imagined. To rework the poet John Dunne, no island-nation is ‘entire of itself’, nor can any island-nature be other than ‘involved in mankind’. Perhaps the bell now tolls for the last island: the blue marble of planet Earth, an island in the infinity of space."



"Surtsey is still bleak and black, but mosses and lichens, windswept grasses and stunted shrubs now soften its edges. All its creatures still live as much with the global systems of winds and storms as on the precious fragment of land that erupted 50 years ago. Surviving on such a remote island is, paradoxically, a mark of cosmopolitanism. Only plants and animals that travel easily will flourish there."
libbyrobin  via:anne  2014  iceland  islands  science  isolation  cosmopolitanism  judithschalansky  picoiyer  surtseyisland  peterveth  charlesdarwin  alfredrusselwallace  galápagos  alexandervonhumboldt  newzealand  australia  bali  lombok  ecology  biology  life  robertmacarthur  edwardowilson  ecosystems  discreetness  nature  wilderness  complexity  extinction  dispersal  invasion  adaptation  competition  biogeography  geography  lordhoweisland  yrjöhaila  equilibrium  conservation  adrianmanning  jakobvonuexküll  flows  circulation  borders  people  humans  separation  anthropocene  darwin 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Design + Ethnography + Futures | Symposium
"10th – 11th December 2014

Invitation only symposium

Through this symposium we will explore how by bringing together Design + Ethnography + Futures we can deliberately step out of established disciplinary methodologies. This means moving into the future with people and challenging what we habitually do and think about. We want to open up a space where we can question the taken-for-granted, trigger genuine surprise, play with the edges of boundaries and reconfigure ways knowledge is produced.

Throughout 2014, we have been developing an agenda for our Design + Ethnography + Futures programme to propose a new meeting of design and ethnography through a focus on futures. D+E+F builds on design anthropology and design ethnography, but is not exactly either of these. Our work, which has developed through a series of workshops and iterating research projects, has focused around concepts of knowing, sharing, making, moving and disrupting. We are exploring how the future orientation of combining design + ethnography approaches invites different forms of change-making, where uncertainty and the ‘not-yet-made’ is at the centre of inquiry. It brings the improvisory, playful, imaginative, sensorial and somewhat contested edges of both fields to create an opening to experiment with what might emerge out of an assembly of ideas, people, feelings, things and processes.

This symposium is above all a context where we will get to explore these ideas with you – by talking and engaging in workshop-like activities. By ‘hacking’ a traditional symposium format, we are inviting you to explore together ways not to know, rather than sharing what we each already know through argument and consolidation. In joining us in this endeavour, we are also asking the participants to ‘let go’ of their preconceptions behind, forego the need for a resolution, and enter into this together, to anew and awaken and become more aware of the emergent.

By embarking on this journey, we also have some specific and more strategic objectives:

• To consolidate a global network of researchers who will continue to develop these themes together, located in hubs across the world;
• To apply for funding internationally for future network meetings;
• To look into possibilities for applying for research funding together for shared projects; and,
• To produce a publication output as well as creative practice works where relevant.

Sarah Pink & Yoko Akama
RMIT Design + Ethnography + Futures research program leaders"
via:anne  uncertainty  ethnography  design  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  anthropology  sarahpink  yokoakama  events  workshops  notknowing  future  hacking 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Ethnographic Fiction: The Space Between | Savage Minds
"My ethnographic material demanded a particular genre: a film, when I was working on visual war culture in Iran and a sound project, when I was working on international war photography. Despite the change in mediums, what remained the same were the hours of research and even more hours of writing. As my five year-old would let you know, without research I wouldn’t have a story to tell because I’m just not any good at making them up or at refraining from analyzing and educating alongside narrating. In my latest eight-year long attempt at writing a novel based on fieldwork on underground theater, I couldn’t bear not to throw in my analysis and theorize or to stick to an omniscient narrative. I finally broke down at year six and explicitly added the ethnographic back in to the novel through the addition of a first person voice which analyzes and theorizes the ethnographic material. I simply stopped trying to choose between a novel and ethnography and embraced the in-between: a novel or neo-ethnography.

This latest ethnography on Iranian theater is akin to Italian neorealism, in which real people played themselves with lines scripted by a writer toward the goal of creating social change, a new reality. Whether I’m writing the script or writing about the play, what I’m doing or trying to do is to play with ethnography in a very serious way. I believe ethnography is the genre that is most malleable, most inspiring, most in-between. It gives my loose meanderings a purpose, it gives just living a vocation, it gives gossip and nosiness legitimacy. Ethnography makes me feel twice alive, in person and then on the page. It allows me to analyze, to overthink, to take refuge in that place where I feel that everything is explainable and controllable … and then it explodes. My ethnographic notes are a dictionary, a book of short stories, a litany of mistakes and misunderstandings. My ethnographic writings are soon filled with the opposite of ethnography, and yet are still filled with life and then when life needs protection, needs cover, needs space to breathe and to change, there is fiction. Fiction allows me to write about Iran uncensored, allows me to play and to change the ending. The thing about ethnography is there isn’t an ending. No one writes The End at the end of an ethnography. Instead it’s the beginning of discussion, of thought, of change and it’s where as a writer I’ve found my home, my identity."
via:anne  2014  ethnography  ethnographicfiction  speculativeethnography  fiction  roxannevarzi  anthropology  identity  neorealism  narrative  storytelling 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The language of objects | Interactivate
"Objects may not be silent, but what difference does that make if you don’t speak their language?

I’ve been doing a bit more musing on some of the anecdotes Stephanie Weaver shared during her keynote at the recent Interpretation Australia conference (first instalment here). She mentioned the often-heard claim that objects “speak for themselves” (a view that appears especially prevalent in art circles), thus rendering interpretation irrelevant at best, interfering at worst. In response, one time she challenged some “speak for themselves-ists” with an image of a carburettor, similar to this one:

[image]

Did the object speak to them about what it was? Was it a particularly fine or noteworthy example? In the absence of any relevant mechanical or technical knowledge, Stephanie’s interlocutors were stumped. They accepted that this object was mute in the absence of interpretation (at least to them).

But Stephanie also told the story of the object that spoke to her immedately, profoundly, and so powerfully it moved her to tears – no interpretation required:

[image]

In this case, the painting was the trigger for an avalanche of meaning that lay within Stephanie’s own life experience. In was in the Musee d’Orsay, during a much-anticipated and long-awaited trip to Paris. The painting was beatifully presented in a gallery context. The content resonated with Stephanie’s childhood as a dance student. And of course there is an aesthetic appeal that needs no overt explanation*.

This made me think that the “objects are mute” vs “objects speak for themselves” debate may be missing an important nuance: perhaps objects do speak, at least some of the time, although we as visitors may not necessarily be conversant in the language any given object speaks. And if not, the object is as good as mute to us.

Some communication transcends language: in another conference session, Pamela Harmon-Price described how a Japanese tour guide used timing, gesture and body language to convey considerable meaning, despite Pamela not understanding a word of what was said. Drawing analogy to objects, there may be some aspects of an object: form, colour, positioning, and so on, that can speak to us on some level.

But then there is the Tower of Babel of other languages any given object may speak. And of course the same object may speak multiple languages (the languages of technology, or art, or social history). And that is where interpretation can step in – conveying that meaning to those who don’t know enough of the language enough to understand it.

On a radio interview held with Stephanie, Pamela and John Pastorelli during the conference, they reflected on the fact that people outside the cultural sector tend to assume “interpretation” has something to do with languages. Perhaps on some level they’re right: it’s just that it’s intepreting the languages of objects and places rather than other people.

So next time you see an object that you think “speaks for itself” – ask yourself: can you only hear it because you already know the language?



*At least to people enculturated into a Western perspective of aesthetics. Although there are some aspects of aesthetics that may be ‘hard wired’, so to speak, yet others will be a product of the culture we live in, and we deem those as “universal” at our peril!"
objects  communication  language  2014  gestures  bodylanguage  technology  art  socialhistory  interpretation  stephanieweaver  via:anne  pamelaharmon-price  form  color  positioning 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In the past 50 years, two economies that operate at two different speeds have emerged. In one, wealth is created by selling labor or stuff; in the other, by trading signs that are signs of other signs. The virtual assets scale at a speed much greater than the real assets. A worker can produce only so many motorcycles, a teacher can teach only so many students, and a doctor can see only so many patients a day. In high-speed markets, by contrast, billions of dollars are won or lost in billionths of a second. In this new world, wealth begets wealth at an unprecedented rate. No matter how many new jobs are created in the real economy, the wealth gap created by the speed gap will never be closed. It will continue to widen at an ever-faster rate until there is a fundamental change in values.

One of the most basic values that must be rethought is growth, which has not always been the standard by which economic success is measured. The use of the gross national product and gross domestic product to evaluate relative economic performance is largely the product of the Cold War. As the battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union expanded to include the economy, the question became whether capitalism or communism could deliver more goods faster."



"The problem is not only, as Michael Lewis argues in Flash Boys, finding a technological fix for markets that are rigged; the problem is that the entire system rests on values that have become distorted: individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. Furthermore, this regime has repressed values that now need to be cultivated: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need what Nietzsche aptly labeled a "transvaluation of values."



"The growing concern about the effectiveness of primary, secondary, and postsecondary education has led to a preoccupation with the evaluation of students and teachers. For harried administrators, the fastest and most efficient way to make these assessments is to adopt quantitative methods that have proved most effective in the business world. Measuring inputs, outputs, and throughputs has become the accepted way to calculate educational costs and benefits. While quantitative assessment is effective for some activities and subjects, many of the most important aspects of education cannot be quantified. When people believe that what cannot be measured is not real, education and, by extension society, loses its soul.

Today’s young people are not merely distracted—the Internet and video games are actually rewiring their brains. Neuroscientists have found significant differences in the brains of "addicted" adolescents and "healthy" users. The next edition of the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will very likely specify Internet addiction as an area for further research. The epidemic of ADHD provides additional evidence of the deleterious effects of the excessive use of digital media. Physicians concerned about the inability of their patients to concentrate freely prescribe Ritalin, which is speed, while students staying up all night to study take Ritalin to give them a competitive advantage.

Rather than resisting these pressures, anxious parents exacerbate them by programming their kids for what they believe will be success from the time they are in prekindergarten. But the knowledge that matters cannot be programmed, and creativity cannot be rushed but must be cultivated slowly and patiently. As leading scientists, writers, and artists have long insisted, the most imaginative ideas often emerge in moments of idleness.

Many people lament the fact that young people do not read or write as much as they once did. But that is wrong—the issue is not how much they are reading and writing; indeed they are, arguably, reading and writing more than ever before. The problem is how they are reading and what they are writing. There is a growing body of evidence that people read and write differently online. Once again the crucial variable is speed. The claim that faster is always better is nowhere more questionable than when reading, writing, and thinking.

All too often, online reading resembles rapid information processing rather than slow, careful, deliberate reflection. Researchers have discovered what they describe as an "F-shaped pattern" for reading web content, in which as people read down a page, they scan fewer and fewer words in a line. When speed is essential, the shorter, the better; complexity gives way to simplicity, and depth of meaning is dissipated in surfaces over which fickle eyes surf. Fragmentary emails, flashy websites, tweets in 140 characters or less, unedited blogs filled with mistakes. Obscurity, ambiguity, and uncertainty, which are the lifeblood of art, literature, and philosophy, become decoding problems to be resolved by the reductive either/or of digital logic.

Finally, vocationalization. With the skyrocketing cost of college, parents, students, and politicians have become understandably concerned about the utility of higher education. Will college prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace? Which major will help get a job? Administrators and admission officers defend the value of higher education in economic terms by citing the increased lifetime earning potential for college graduates. While financial matters are not unimportant, value cannot be measured in economic terms alone. The preoccupation with what seems to be practical and useful in the marketplace has led to a decline in the perceived value of the arts and humanities, which many people now regard as impractical luxuries.

That development reflects a serious misunderstanding of what is practical and impractical, as well as the confusion between the practical and the vocational. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," insists, the humanities and liberal arts have never been more important than in today’s globalized world. Education focused on STEM disciplines is not enough—to survive and perhaps even thrive in the 21st century, students need to study religion, philosophy, art, languages, literature, and history. Young people must learn that memory cannot be outsourced to machines, and short-term solutions to long-term problems are never enough. Above all, educators are responsible for teaching students how to think critically and creatively about the values that guide their lives and inform society as a whole.

That cannot be done quickly—it will take the time that too many people think they do not have.

Acceleration is unsustainable. Eventually, speed kills. The slowing down required to delay or even avoid the implosion of interrelated systems that sustain our lives does not merely involve pausing to smell the roses or taking more time with one’s family, though those are important.

Within the long arc of history, it becomes clear that the obsession with speed is a recent development that reflects values that have become destructive. Not all reality is virtual, and the quick might not inherit the earth. Complex systems are not infinitely adaptive, and when they collapse, it happens suddenly and usually unexpectedly. Time is quickly running out."
speed  health  life  trends  2014  via:anne  marktaylor  filippomarinetti  futurists  futuristmanifesto  modernism  modernity  charliechaplin  efficiency  living  slow  thorsteinveblen  wealth  inequality  values  us  growth  economics  writing  finance  education  highered  highereducation  communication  internet  web  online  complexity  systemsthinking  systems  humanities  liberalarts  stem  criticalthinking  creativity  reflection  productivity  reading  howweread  howwewrite  thinking  schools  schooling  evaluation  assessment  quantification  standardization  standardizedtesting  society  interdisciplinary  professionalization  specialization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  learning  howwelearn  howwethink  neuroscience  slowness  deliberation  patience  generosity  consumption  competition  competitiveness  subtlety  sustainability  community  cooperation  nietzsche  capitalism  latecapitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Reciprocities of Trust | Giles Lane
"Reciprocal Exchange

Since completing both the Pallion Ideas Exchange project and following on from my first Indigenous Public Authoring field trip to Reite I have found myself moving more and more towards articulating my personal aim of ‘reciprocal exchange’ with the people and communities with whom I work. My goal in entering into collaborations is to learn from others, experience things I cannot (or would not) make happen on my own – to stretch myself in a continuous process of becoming. It would be a selfish or at least self-centred process without the sense of obligation to reciprocate with others, to offer whatever knowledge, skills and experiences I have in a way that enables others to adopt and adapt them for themselves.

Perhaps this is why I have often felt uncomfortable with the use of ‘ethics’ and ‘informed consent’ as I have seen and encountered it applied in some research contexts. My research work is not based on creating objective studies so much as engaged directly in working with people to effect social and cultural transformation. For this I believe that more is needed than just consent – it requires active participation, mutual trust and reciprocal exchange.

This value of reciprocal exchange also underpins the work I have been doing with Oxford Brookes University on developing a process of engaged participatory design for a new kind of rehabilitation measurement tool which survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) will be asked to use to share their rehab experiences. Previous methods and tools have primarily focused on what clinicians and researchers needed to know. However we have started from the point of also trying to understand what benefits may derive from the activity for the TBI survivors themselves – as they see it – and how the process of contributing information to help clinicians better understand their experiences can be part of their own rehabilitation. This is a challenging step in developing tools within a medical context – embedding the patient’s perspective at the heart of designing a process intending to learn from their information and data is not as common as many may think.

* * * * *

James and I are now gearing up for the next stage of our Indigenous Public Authoring collaboration : a field trip in early 2015 (and another in 2016) back to Reite to work further with community members and explore methods and tools appropriate to their situation and context – ultimately aiming to put together a kind of simple, adaptable toolkit and process for recording and sharing traditional environmental, cultural and ecological knowledge that has been co-designed and co-created in situ with the community.

At the heart of this project, for me, is this question of reciprocal exchange – what is each participant in the process bringing and taking away? How does it bind us into relationships of exchange and obligation to each other? The disparities of our ways of life and the worlds we inhabit mean that establishing an equitable relationship is unlikely to be based purely on material exchange – as it might be in the industrialised world of goods and money – although undoubtedly this will be involved. More likely, it seems to me, an equitable relationship will emerge out of shared acceptance of obligations to each other, and the articulation of these obligations through processes of collaboration and making things.

And the only material that these relationships can be forged with is trust."
trust  informedconsent  reciprocity  reciprocalexchange  via:anne  gileslane  2014  community  communities  collaboration  ethos  ethics  informeddisclosure  consent  disclosure  engagedconsent  research  howwework  howweteach  relationships 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Frances Whitehead
"WHO WE ARE

Frances Whitehead is a civic practice artist bringing the methods, mindsets, and strategies of contemporary art practice to the process of shaping the future city. Connecting emerging art practices, the discourses around culturally informed sustainability, and new concepts of heritage and remediation, she develops strategies to deploy the knowledge of artists as change agents, asking, What do Artists Know?

Questions of participation, sustainability, and culture change animate her work as she considers the surrounding community, the landscape, and the interdependency of multiple ecologies in the post-industrial city. Whitehead’s cutting-edge work integrates art and sustainability, as she traverses disciplines to engage with engineers, scientists, landscape architects, urban designers, and city officials in order to hybridize art, design, science, and civic engagement, for the public good.

Whitehead has worked professionally as an artist since the mid 1980’s and has worked collaboratively as ARTetal Studio since 2001. She is Professor of Sculpture + Architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago."


HOW WE THINK

strategic
edge-dwelling
collaborative
cultural futures
experimental
complexity
ethics + aesthetics
place-based culture
change
participatory
urban ecologies
systemic
re-directive
post normal
art + science
integrative
adaptive"


WHAT WE DO

Whitehead works in disturbed urban and rural sites, to integrate art and cultural expertise into their transformation. A series of linked civic initiatives include the Embedded Artist Project with the City of Chicago, SLOW Cleanup, a culturally driven phytoremediation program for abandoned gas stations, climate-monitoring plant programs throughout the USA and Europe, and an urban agriculture plan with the city of Lima, Peru. Currently, Whitehead is Lead Artist for The 606, a rail infrastructure adaptation project in Chicago, and serves as Advisor to re-imagine the environmental art program at the Schuylkill Center, in Philadelphia."
franceswhitehead  via:anne  art  science  cities  urban  urbanism  remediation  heritage  participation  sustainability  culture  culturechange  culturecreation  community  landscape  interdependence  ecology  civics  artetalstudio  chicago  collaboration  strategy  urbanecology  urbanecologies  ethics  aesthetics  systems  systemsthinking  participatory  complexity  future  futures  edge-dwelling  phytoremediation  lima  perú  the606  engineering  urbandesign  interdisciplinary 
october 2014 by robertogreco
David Buckland - Cape Farewell - The cultural response to climate change
"Since 2001 David Buckland has created and now directs the Cape Farewell project, bringing artists, scientists and educators together to collectively address and raise awareness about climate change. The artists have already been the subject of a film for The Culture Show and a BBC documentary. The art resulting from these fruitful journeys has toured around the world with exhibitions including Carbon14, Carbon13, Carbon12 and Unfold.

David is a designer, artist and film-maker whose lens-based works have been exhibited in numerous galleries in London, Paris and New York and collected by the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Metropolitan Museum, New York and the Getty Collection, Los Angeles amongst others.

In 1999 David presented a one-man show of digitally mastered portraits of performers at London's National Portrait Gallery, which attracted over 100,000 visitors. Three new commissions, all in the USA, from MasterCard, Vanguard Insurance and Royal Caribbean have just been completed. Each entailed huge digital constructions on glass for the new atriums of each company.

Books
Five books of his photographs have been published including works on the Trojan Wars and The Last Judgment featuring the sculptures of Sir Anthony Caro, and two monographs of his own work. He has designed over 20 stage sets, as well as costumes, for The Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, Second Stride, Compagnie Cré-Ange and Siobhan Davies Dance Company. His short film for the Dance for the Camera season Dwell Time was broadcast on BBC1 in January 1996."
via:anne  art  artists  science  twocultures  thirdculture  davidbuckland  capefarewell  climatechange  carbon14  carbon13  carbon12  unfold  design  film  filmmaking 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Audio guides turning museum visitors into 'zombies' - curator - Life & Style - NZ Herald News
"Next time you make a beeline for the audio guides at a museum, it might be an idea to think again.

According to one of Britain's most respected curators, taped commentaries are ruining the nation's exhibitions and turning visitors into "zombies".

Sir Roy Strong complained yesterday that visitors are now not engaging with the nation's treasures and instead walking around "on autocue".

The 79-year-old said audio guides tended to "go on" too long, leading people to blindly stand in front of paintings or exhibits for hours.

Sir Roy, former director of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, said he now feared people were beginning to prefer audio-guides to the actual artworks.

He said: "With these sound guides, there's a tendency to tell you too much and to go on too much.

"Often, some of these gallery guides go on and on and on. And you see people on autocue going around like zombies.

"It's good if the person can have their own discovery."

Sir Roy made his outspoken criticism at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where he was speaking about The Laskett Garden.

The garden, in Herefordshire, is the largest private formal garden to be created in England since 1945 and was a 30-year labour of love for Sir Roy and his late wife Julia Trevelyan Oman.

He was quick to point out that visitors to the Laskett receive only scant information about each section.

But recalling one mosaic exhibition he saw recently, he joked that he urged one visitor to stop listening to the guide, saying: "Look at the mosaic, woman, not her!"

He also remembered becoming exasperated when observing another museum visitors' group looking at an iPad version of Rembrandt's 1642 painting The Night Watch when they were stood in front of the real thing.

He said: "They'd rather watch the Night Watch on TV than see the real picture."

Sir Roy, whose wife Julia died in 2003 from pancreatic cancer, lives in the village of Much Birch, which lies 8 miles south of Hereford.

It was here that the pair created their garden, which is full of references to their romance of three decades.

He said that after her death, he tried to clear out some of her plant collections, including her 130 varieties of crab apple trees.

His head gardener ended up planting them around Hereford at bus stops and other random locations, which, he said, "she would have liked."

He added: "[The garden] has been edited down from what it was. It was much more confused before."

On his gardening philosophy, he said: "I never mind breaking the rules. It accounts for a lot of my success. Never take any notice of whatever anyone else says.""
via:anne  2014  museums  audioguides  experience  museumeducation  education  lectures 
october 2014 by robertogreco
petcam snaps the world through the eyes of four-legged friends
"if you’ve ever wondered what the world looks like through the eyes of your four-legged friend, american photographer chris keeney has amassed a series of snapshots taken from curious creatures’ own point of view. the ‘petcam’ book is collection of images from all over the world, captured by a chihuahua, a manx cat, a red angus cow and a tiny abyssinian guinea pig — just to name a few. using a small, lightweight digital camera attached to the animal’s collar — and set to take photos at predetermined intervals — the pet becomes the photographer, and their wild adventures are documented from an unparalleled perspective."

[See also: http://www.papress.com/html/book.details.page.tpl?isbn=9781616892586
http://www.amazon.com/Petcam-World-Through-Four-Legged-Friends/dp/1616892587 ]
cameras  pets  animals  petcam  2014  via:anne  books  chriskeeney 
september 2014 by robertogreco
When Wild Animals Use Human Technology… and the End of Times » Sociological Images
"Forgive me, because this is probably better left to Cyborgology, but something amazing is happening here. In the video below, nesting swallows become trapped in a building when they add doors. The birds soon learn, though, that they can get the doors to automatically open by triggering the motion sensors. This is a story, obviously, of how smart birds are, but here’s what struck me: we often think about human technology as for humans. In this case, however, birds adapted the technology for their own very similar needs (to get in and out).

[Video embedded here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs6n4XKApqc ]

If the workers had installed an older human technology — plain old doors — the birds would have been out of luck because they don’t have thumbs and the strength to manipulate an environment built for humans. But motion activated doors make both thumbs and strength irrelevant, so now birds are our functional equals.

This is fascinating, yeah? Our technology has advanced to the point where we’re potentially undermining our own evolutionary advantages. I’m not putting a moral judgment on it. I think morality is firmly on the side of non-fitness based decisions (eh em, social Darwinism). If one wants to theorize the relationship between animals, technology, and what it means to be human, however, this looks like gold to me."
via:anne  animals  birds  technology  accessibility  2014  lisawade  evolution 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Sympathy for a Desert Dog - NYTimes.com
"“/Kunta,” he said addressing me by my Bushman name, “the problem with you whites is that you think dogs behave like humans or even that your dogs think that they are humans. They are not humans. They are dogs. Their ways are different.”

It took me a while to understand Kaice’s point and the apparent indifference of the Ju/’hoansi to the suffering of dogs. It seemed at odds with the idea that Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers had deeply empathetic relationships with the animals they lived among. But in time I learned that this is precisely what justifies the indifference.

Ju/’hoansi insisted that animals were people. Not humans but people. They asserted that each species of animal had its own physical forms, customs, habits and ways of experiencing and interacting with the world. Ju/’hoansi claimed to know this because they observed, engaged with and empathized with the animals with whom they shared their world.

Most pet owners claim that the sympathy they offer their pets is based on an empathetic relationship with them built on traits our species and their species have in common — in the case of dogs their sociability, their loyalty, their gratitude.

But this is a different understanding of empathy than that which hunter-gatherers like the Ju/’hoansi had for their animal neighbors.

For them animal empathy was not a question of focusing on an animal’s human-like characteristics, but of assuming the whole perspective of the animal. Their animal empathy defied verbalization. To empathize with an animal you couldn’t think like a human and project your mind-set into it; you had to “be” the animal.

This view of empathy was the product of millennia of living among the wild animals of the Kalahari as “neighbors” and hunting them. Where other peoples defined themselves by reference to other tribes or nations, Ju/’hoansi defined themselves in terms of the their differences from the lions, elephants, aardvarks, elands and many other desert creatures they lived among. Their animal neighbors were a constant source of fascination. Any interesting or unusual animal behaviors, habits and interactions would generate considerable discussion. Their knowledge of the animals was such that they were able to establish an animal’s apparent motives and actions from a few scuffs in the sand, sometimes a day or two old, and accurately predict its movements or behavior on this basis. But their success as hunters, after all, depended on their ability to accurately anticipate the behavior of their prey. And this, they insisted, required empathy.

Typically Ju/’hoansi hunted with small poison arrows that lacked fletching. It took great skill and knowledge to get close enough to an animal to shoot it and even greater skill to able to track the animal down as the poison did its work, which could take between six and 48 hours depending on the size of the animal. After shooting a large animal like an oryx or a giraffe, a hunter would memorize the individual animal’s spoor and return the following morning to track it down.

When a hunter found and followed his prey’s spoor he would not merely read it but surrender himself into it, living each footfall that scuffed the sand. In doing so he plunged into his prey’s consciousness, dissolving the boundary between the hunter and the hunted. Finally, by consuming their prey, the hunter and the prey’s relationship would move from an empathetic union to a physical one as they literally became of one body.

But this kind of empathy did not persuade Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers to feel sympathy for animals or assume a duty of care for them. Rather it made people focus more on the non-human behaviors of animals rather than what they had in common. Among people who considered themselves to be just one of many different kinds of animal-people in a wild environment, hunting, death and pain were parts of everyday life. Human compassion did not extend to other species.

My relationship with Dog, as the Ju/’hoansi reminded me, was an artifact of the Neolithic Revolution. The domestication of the wolf was but a small part of a transition that fundamentally reconfigured how humans related to their environments. Where they once saw themselves as one of many creatures sharing environments, they now placed themselves at its center and sought mastery over it. Accordingly animals were divided into a series of new categories based on how they fit into the human world. Some were designated pets or “livestock” – and a duty of care was extended to them. Others were designated pests or vermin. Animals ceased to be considered different kinds of “people,” and those like dogs were selected and bred, for human-like traits, among other things, that we could easily empathize with without displacing our sense of ourselves as humans.

My and Dog’s lives intersected momentarily. And I am glad they did. We were both Neolithic orphans stranded in a Paleolithic world. The Ju/’hoansi’s sense of interspecies relations and their extraordinary empathy was right for the wild animals that shared their world, and there is much we can learn from it. But when it comes to dogs, and other creatures that have evolved to crave our affection, I am glad to be a child of the Neolithic."
dogs  pets  animals  culture  anthropology  ethnography  empathy  sympathy  anthropomorphism  2014  africa  jamessuzman  via:anne  relationships  animalhumanrelationships 
september 2014 by robertogreco
aki inomata swaps human hair with her dog to exchange fur coats
"‘I wear the dog’s hair, and the dog wears my hair‘ is comprised of a video installation and the two articles of clothing: an over-the-shoulder caplet and a dog’s outerwear. ‘I have had various pets, and do so now as well.‘ inomata explains ‘I believe that all people who have pets wonder at some point whether their pet is happy, and I face the dilemma of whether it is right to make a living creature into a pet. within this context, I have had these animals appear in my artwork. my works take as their starting point things that I have felt within everyday experiences, and transplant the structure of these experiences analogically to the modes of life of the animals. the concept of my works is to get people to perceive the modes of life of various living creatures by experiencing a kind of empathy towards them.’"
animals  humans  knitting  akiinomata  fur  art  2014  via:anne  clothing  animalhumanrelationships  human  hair  pets 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Pigeon Fliers of New York - NYTimes.com
"Once seemingly as commonplace on city rooftops as the iconic water tower, pigeon coops are now as scarce as the longshoremen known for building them — the mostly Irish and Italian men immortalized in representations of working-class New York like the 1954 film “On the Waterfront.”

Curious about this fading avocation, I started hanging out at a local pigeon supply store. It was there that I encountered Carmine Gangone, a retired plane cargo loadmaster, mulling whether to fork over $5 for a brown speckled hen. Noticing me, Mr. Gangone threatened to cut off my long, unkempt hair, before cracking a smile. Later he invited me to his roof, after one of the owners told me he was the best flier around.

Over the next three years, I spent hundreds of hours with Mr. Gangone and two dozen other pigeon fliers on rooftops in the outer boroughs. While Charles Darwin had long ago immersed himself in the working-class subculture of “pigeon fancying” for biological reasons (“On the Origin of Species” illustrates natural selection through an exhaustive genealogy of pigeon breeds), my interest was anthropological — I wanted to write a book about these men.

A year and a half ago, not long before my book was published, Mr. Gangone died. The last time I visited his home in Ozone Park, Queens, he was too frail to ascend the metal ladder to his rooftop coop. “My legs won’t carry me no more,” he said, “and they say my blood is too heavy.” Though Mr. Gangone acknowledged feeling “pretty lucky” to have lived 88 years, without his birds there was nothing to look forward to — “I just sit in this chair and relive it all.” Since his death, I’ve thought a lot about why it was that pigeons gave Mr. Gangone a reason to live.

Though already an octogenarian when I met him, Mr. Gangone still climbed to the roof of his townhouse every morning to “chase” his stock of 150 domesticated pigeons into the inky pre-dawn sky, where they would hurtle toward the clouds and then divebomb the elevated train in perfect unison as he waved his bamboo rod like a baton. He told me that his stock was like a family. I sometimes saw this otherwise phlegmatic man giggle and make kissy faces at chicks that awkwardly perched on his finger, and he lovingly prepared herbal remedies for pigeons that got sick."



"While Mr. Gangone may have gotten into pigeons because of a sheer fascination with animals, it was his social bonds with other fliers that gave meaning to these cross-species relations, and to the last years of his life. In explaining to me why he agreed to mentor Orlando, Mr. Gangone said, “I need people around here, it makes me want to come on the roof.” Rather than functioning as an escape from social pressures, Mr. Gangone’s coop opened up a new social world. It took me a while, but now I appreciate that it was through his birds that Mr. Gangone could still be somebody who mattered to other people."
via:anne  pigeons  animals  2014  colinjerolmack  carminegangone  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Interspecies Collaboration
"This site is a collaborative research space for documenting the progress of art projects made together with non-human animals and for posting resources relevant to such endeavors."
animals  humans  interspecies  collaboration  art  animalhumanrelationships  via:anne 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Care: Some musings on a theme | Thom van Dooren
"I have often felt over the past seven years or so like I am on an extended journey along the edge of extinction. I have spent time sitting among albatrosses engaged in courtship and nesting; I have dressed up like a whooping crane to interact with young birds learning a lost migratory route; I have helped to provide enrichment for captive Hawaiian crows, hiding dead mice inside green rubber balls in their aviaries to challenge and stimulate them (van Dooren, 2014). All of these birds are members, more accurately participants, of species that are in decline or in serious trouble. Spending time in these spaces has prompted me to think about ethics through concepts like witness, hope and inheritance (much of this work is a collaboration with Debbie). Through these experiences – and an ongoing engagement with, in particular, the work of Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and Donna Haraway – I have also begun to appreciate an important role for care, in all of its ambiguity and complexity. What does it mean to care for others at the edge of extinction? What forms might careful scholarship take at this time?

In Maria Puig’s recent work, care emerges as a particularly profound engagement with the world, simultaneously “a vital affective state, an ethical obligation and a practical labour” (2012: 197; 2010). Affective, ethical and practical; all of these facets matter. As an affective state, caring is an embodied phenomenon, the product of intellectual and emotional competencies: to care is to be affected by another, to be emotionally at stake in them in some way. As an ethical obligation, to care is to become subject to another, to recognise an obligation to look after another. Finally, as a practical labour, caring requires more from us than abstract well wishing, it requires that we get involved in some concrete way, that we do something (wherever possible) to take care of another. In short, in Puig’s work, care is an entry point into a grounded form of embodied and practical ethics.

But Puig is also intensely mindful that caring is a complex and compromised practice. Time and again I have witnessed how care for some individuals and species translates into suffering and death for others, the ‘violent-care’ of conservation (van Dooren, forthcoming; van Dooren, 2014): predators and competitors are culled, expendable animals provide food or enrichment for the endangered, the list goes on (Rose, 2013). Beyond conservation worlds, caring is often similarly fraught. In short, care is grounded in all of the mundane and “inescapable troubles of interdependent existences,” and can offer no guarantee of a “smooth harmonious world” (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2012: 197-199).

What emerges from this complexity is the necessity that care involve an ongoing critical engagement with the terms of its own production and practice. As Donna Haraway notes, “caring means becoming subject to the unsettling obligation of curiosity, which requires knowing more at the end of the day than at the beginning” (2008: 36). The kind of curiosity that Haraway has in mind here is definitively expansive, perhaps even explosive, rippling out into the world. It is this kind of curiosity that prompts her to ask: “Whom and what do I touch when I touch my dog? How is ‘becoming with’ a practice of becoming worldly?” (35). In Haraway’s hands, the simple act of touching a dog – “touch” she reminds us “does not make one small; it peppers its partners with attachment sites for world making” (36) – draws us out into complex interwoven histories of co-evolution and broader patterns of co-becoming, of ranching and the emergence of agriculture, of animal testing, contemporary pet keeping and much more (2003; 2008).

Together, Puig and Haraway offer us the potential to understand care itself as a vital practice of critique. Care-full curiosity opens up an appreciation of historical contingency: that things might have been and so might yet still be, otherwise. This is critique in the sense that Foucault (1997) described: a kind of genealogical exploration of contingency, an “historical ontology of the present” (Patton, 2013: 151), that refuses to take for granted assumed categories and frameworks and in so doing opens up new possibilities.

But in situating these kinds of critical interventions within a larger practice of care – which is something that both Haraway and Puig are already doing in their work (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2012) – our critique is grounded in a new way in the specificity of real bodies and worlds in ongoing relationship. Here, the obligation to ‘know more’ emerges as a demand for a kind of deep contextual and critical knowledge about the object of our care, a knowledge that simultaneously places us at stake in the world and demands that we be held accountable: what kinds of emotional, political and epistemic, frames orient our caring acts? What counts as care and why? How else might care be imagined and practiced? (Mol, 2008). In short, what am I really caring for, why, and at what cost to whom? (van Dooren, forthcoming).

Understood in this way, care is a vital concept for an engaged environmental humanities. Much more needs to be done to articulate what different kinds of careful scholarship might look like in different contexts. Perhaps the first step is to begin to explicitly re-imagine our critical work as itself an act of care. Haraway has stated of her own work: “I will critically analyze … only that which I love” (1997: 151). Perhaps though, love and care require these acts of curious critique. Perhaps we must critique what we love. This would be a kind of affectively and ethically engaged scholarship; one that also works to position our writing, speaking and teaching – however modest their impacts – as practical acts of care that can draw others into a sense of curiosity and concern for our changing world (Rose and van Dooren, in process). In this way, we are also called to re-imagine what care might yet become: how might we learn to better care for disappearing species, from re-working the daily practices of captive breeding (van Dooren, 2014; in process) to rethinking the broader frameworks of value that render unproblematic and commonsensical current approaches to ‘killing for conservation’ (van Dooren, 2011; forthcoming).

In short, the question is how placing care at the centre of our critical work might remake ourselves, our practices and our world: what might it mean to be inquisitive about, at stake in and accountable for, the worlds that ground our care and those that are brought about by it; to engage in a scholarship that embraces the fact that caring is always a practice of worlding?"
care  caring  thomvanddoren  2014  via:anne  donnaharaway  mariapuigdelaballacasa  relationships  humanities  environmentalhumanities  context  engagement  ethics  multispecies  interdependence  production  practice  curiosity  touch  animals  foucault  possibility  transdisciplinary  accountability  criticalanalysis  extinction  conservation  posthumanism  michelfoucault 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Species and Class | Exploring the animal-human relationship from socialist and anarchist perspectives
"Species and Class aims to be a group blog focused on exploring the animal-human relationship from socialist and social anarchist perspectives. We need writers, editors, graphic designers, webmasters, social media managers, and fundraisers."
via:anne  animals  animalhumanrelationships  socialism  anarchism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Choice-Making with Head and Heart: Finding the Ethnographic Center of Strategy | EPIC
Pull-out: "The power of ethnography is not in its methods, but in the way it shapes our perspective on the world. "



"Being an anthropologist has been a core part of my personal identity since graduate school – not because of all the years of schooling or the grueling dissertation, but because a holistic, systemic, and people-centered perspective on the world became woven into the fabric of who I am. The power of ethnography is not in its methods, but in the way it shapes our perspective on the world. We frame complex problems in holistic ways, seek out connections between micro-behaviors and macro-dynamics, and are inspired by the rich color of people’s stories. An ethnographic perspective helps us find meaning in everything we look at. Applying that perspective in our work is about translating that meaning into action.

These skills are all fundamental to the choice-making enterprise of business strategy. Recently I have had the great fortune to facilitate and inspire strategy development alongside leaders of multi-million dollar businesses, and truly experiment with applying our ethnographic tools to this endeavor. At Steelcase, all corners of our company are steeped in design thinking and we share corporate goals around people-centered, insight-led strategy and innovation. We have been upping the ante by expanding the role of our insights from product and service design to business strategy design, and this has provided me a rich opportunity to yet again reframe my own ethnographic perspective.

Here are some thoughts on why I believe more of us should be doing business or corporate strategy work:

Understand, imagine, and make choices.

We are pattern-finders of complex systems. We dig deep to understand root causes. We are attuned to the interactive dynamics between social and economic forces. We identify levers and triggers. We can paint pictures of complex landscapes. But that in itself is not enough. How will you chart a path through that landscape? What will you pursue and what will you leave behind? At Steelcase, we leverage a lot of tools from Roger Martin’s work to help us with this – define your ‘wicked problem’ for the business; apply integrative thinking to bring together disparate frames; and imagine future scenarios or ‘happy stories.’ What kinds of futures does the world offer this business? Imagine what could be, test the options, and then make informed choices.

Practice and partner.

Too frequently in the business world, research is treated as a service. Changing this attitude towards ethnography needs to begin with all of you. Present your ethnographic expertise as a practice and a way of making sense of your business. Position yourself as a partner to others who bring complementary practices to the table. Be honest and authentic, learn from and with your partners, and iterate your strategies as you go. By consistently practicing and learning as part of a multidisciplinary team, you are infusing more reliability into the choice-making endeavor and minimizing risk as you run your strategy scenarios through diverse perspectives and frames.

Lead with heart.

Strategy is about choice-making and setting direction, and robust strategies set a compelling direction with vision that people in the organization want to follow. As ethnographers, we often find ourselves as champions of people outside our organizations. My advice is to mirror that heart back into your organization. MIT’s Otto Scharmer has worked extensively on leadership approaches centered around an ‘open mind-open heart-open will’ framework, and I highly recommend looking at some of his work through your ethnographic lens. In many ways, he is talking about applying the ethnographic perspective internally to a team and organization. Empathy is not just what we do for our ‘users’ – it’s what we should be doing for our own colleagues and organizations.

In closing, a call to action.

Experiment with the ethnographic center of strategy – by putting your people skills to work to frame, find meaning, make choices for your business, and design stories that create compelling visions for everyone in your organization."
ethnography  perspective  2014  leadership  donnaflynn  via:anne  learning  empathy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
EPIC | Advancing the Value of Ethnography in Industry
"EPIC promotes the use of ethnographic principles in the study of people and social phenomena.

Our goal is to enable the community to explore, debate, and engage in knowledge production. By illuminating the arc of social change through theory and practice, we can create better business strategies, processes and products, as well as enhance and simplify people’s lives in a digital age. EPIC committed to the view that theory and practice inform one another and that the integration of rigorous methods and theory from multiple disciplines creates transformative value for businesses.

EPIC provides both an on-line presence and an annual conference to facilitate the community’s commitment to ethnographic knowledge production and action. The EPIC on-line platform provides a venue for year-round engagement, enabling community members to participate in discussions around the work we do and to better comprehend the diversity and impact of ethnographic work we are all leading today.

The annual EPIC conference brings together a dynamic community of practitioners and scholars concerned with how ethnographic thinking, methods and practices are used to transform design, business and innovation contexts. Presenters and attendees come from technology corporations, product and service companies, a range of consultancies, universities and design schools, government and NGOs, and research institutes. Our annual conference submissions go through a double blind-peer review process. EPIC’s conference proceedings are published by Wiley Blackwell.

EPIC is a 501(c)(3) incorporated in the state of Oregon."
ethnography  resources  via:anne 
july 2014 by robertogreco
On Digital Ethnography | Ethnography Matters
"When Tricia asked me to contribute a series on Ethnography Matters, I thought that I would take this opportunity to bring together the notes on digital ethnography that I have collected over the last couple of years. I would like to push the boundaries of computational usage in ethnographic processes a bit here. I really want to expand the definition of digital ethnography beyond the use of computers, tablets, and smart phones as devices to interact with online communities, or to capture, transfer, and store field media.

In this three-part series, I am going to discuss how working with computational tools could widen the scope of ethnographic work and deepen our practice. I will stay mostly within the domain of data gathering in this first post. In the second post, I will talk about the process of field data interpreting and visualizing; and the last post, I will focus on how the digital may transform ethnographic narrative and argumentation."

"On Digital Ethnography, What do computers have to do with ethnography? (1 of 4)"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2012/10/27/on-digital-ethnography-part-one-what-do-computers-have-to-do-with-ethnography/

"On Digital Ethnography: mapping as a mode of data discovery (2 of 4)"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2012/12/05/on-digital-ethnography-mapping-as-a-mode-of-data-discovery-part-2-of-4/

"On Digital Ethnography, magnifying the materiality of culture (3 of 4)"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/01/25/on-digital-ethnography-magnifying-the-materiality-of-culture-part-3-of-4/

"Ethnography Beyond Text and Print: How the digital can transform ethnographic expressions"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/12/09/ethnography-beyond-text-and-print-how-the-digital-can-transform-ethnographic-expressions/
ethnography  2012  wendyhsu  maps  mapping  culture  materiality  digitalethnography  ethnographymatters  via:anne  data  text  print  digital  audio  photography  geography 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Best Fabulist Books – Flavorwire
"Fabulism, it seems, is having a moment — although whether it’s truly a trend is up for debate. Some might say it’s been right there, purring along all this time, while others might blink and wonder what you’re talking about. Such is always the case with magic. But whether you’re a newbie or an old hat, there are always new corners of the fantastic to discover.

Before we begin, take note: I say fabulism, but there’s really no single term that works for all of these books, or even for more than a few of them. There’s Robert Scholes’s fabulation, Todorov’s fantastic, there’s plain old fairy tale or fantasy, there’s the much-discussed magical realism, but none of these really work as blanket terms, at least not for what we think of when we consider contemporary literary works with, er, unrealistic elements. And maybe that’s a good thing — maybe that’d tether these books too close to earth, keep them too cemented in our imaginations.

So, here you’ll find 50 excellent novels and short story collections by fabulists, fantasists, and fairy-tale-tellers, literary books that incorporate the irreal, the surreal, and the supernatural, which have no unironic dragons, very few (if any) self-serious necromancers, but lots of delightful, magical, humane, real-as-all-get-out storytelling. Better get started, and if any of your own favorites are missing here, add them to the list in the comments."
via:anne  books  booklists  toread  srg  harukimurakami  italocalvino  borges  isabelallende  gabrielgarcíamárquez  georgesaunders  kafka  aimeebender  alissanutting  ameliagray  angelacarter  benmarcus  chinamieville  césararia  donaldantrim  donaldbarthelme  eowynivey  etgarkeret  heidijulavits  helenoyeyemi  jeffvandermeer  johnbarth  joywilliams  karenjoyfowler  karenrussell  katebernheimer  kathryndavis  kellylink  kevinbrockmeier  koboabe  lauravandenberg  lucycorin  marie-helenebertino  mattbell  mikhailbulgakov  nalohopkinson  neilgaiman  normanlock  philiproth  porochistakhakpour  ramonaausubel  salmanrushdie  sarahsun-lienbynum  shanejones  stephenmillhauser  tobybarlow 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Don't Knock the Ox by Tony Ianzelo - NFB
"The International Ox Pull, highlight of the Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, annual fair, is a holdover from the pioneer past when oxen cleared the land and tilled the soil. These beasts of burden have lost none of their pulling power, as demonstrated when they drag tons of weight loaded on sleds (the winner pulls up to 6 tons!). Competing teams come from various parts of the Maritimes and the Northeastern United States."
1970  film  via:anne  documentary  novascotia  tonyianzelo  oxen  nfb  animals  agriculture  nfbc 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Multispecies Salon | a companion to the book
"A novel approach to writing culture, multispecies ethnography, has come of age. Plants, animals, fungi, and microbes are appearing alongside humans in novel accounts of natural and cultural history. Anthropologists have collaborated with artists and biological scientists to illuminate how diverse organisms are entangled in political, economic, and cultural systems. Delectable mushrooms flourishing in the aftermath of ecological disaster, microbial cultures enlivening the politics and value of food, and emergent life forms running wild in the age of biotechnology all figure in to this curated collection of written prose and artifacts.

Coming on October 17th with Duke University Press.

Recipes provide instructions on how to cook acorn mush, make cheese out of human milk, and enliven forests after they have been clear-cut. The Multispecies Salon investigates messianic dreams, environmental nightmares, and modest sites of biocultural hope."
art  multispecies  multispeciesethnography  ethnography  via:anne  anthropology  biotechnology  animals  plants  2014  books  food  landscape  life 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and the problem of design fictions | Features | Disegno Daily
"Confusion is one of the results that typically arise from design fictions like those Ginsberg creates. The discipline seems to suffer from a problem of how exactly its fictions are to be read. It is sometimes difficult to know how tongue-in-cheek its proposals may be or how seriously we are meant to take them, and consideration of related disciplines makes the point clear. We know that art, for instance, is often oblique, non-literal or metaphorical; it cannot always be taken at face value. Yet literality is precisely what we expect of design, a discipline we are near hard-wired to think of as problem solving and practical. Qualities like humour, provocation, politicisation or subversion are common in art, yet their presence in design is rare. Just as when a designer presents a chair we assume that it must be to sit on,5 so too when a designer suggests growing a Maui’s dolphin in your womb there is a temptation to take it is an order."



"If industry characterised the 19th century, and information technology the 20th, it is tempting to look at biotechnology and synthetic biology as strong candidates for the 21st. The capacity to grow non-consumable products – as Suzanne Lee has done with her Biocouture project – or to create low-emission fuels or cheap pharmaceuticals is clearly appealing, while notions of programming DNA like computer code hold obvious attractions (as well as generating obvious fears) for areas such as agriculture. If farming is the practice of coercing nature into producing desirable results, biotechnology presents a development of this idea: nature rewired to produce these same results “naturally". It is a point writer H.G. Wells made 119 years ago in his essay The Limits of Individual Plasticity: “We overlook only too often the fact that a living being may also be regarded as raw material, as something plastic, something that may be shaped and altered."

Such an idea understandably resonates with designers, yet also raises questions about how design as a discipline will adapt in the the future. What role do designers play if synthetic biology becomes a dominant production mode? Biology is not an equivalent material to wood or metal; a new matter that can be easily subbed into the design process and subjected to the designer’s expertise. Rather, it is a substance that, at least for the foreseeable future, requires the knowledge of a biologist to manipulate.6 It is a point to which Ginsberg is sympathetic. “I think synthetic biology presents an interesting area for designers because it makes you ask what designers will be doing if biologists are designing,” she says. "My question is 'What does design become in that space?' I’m curious to see if design can reflect on itself by working in a very unfamiliar space. Is there an opportunity to think about what we make, and what we should or shouldn’t be making?”

These are some of the questions addressed by Synthetic Aesthetics, a book that documents an ongoing research project of the same name. The project was initiated by the University of Edinburgh and Stanford University in 2010, and paired synthetic biologists with artists and designers to generate residencies that examined crossover between the disciplines. While not all of the resultant projects are fictions, many are.7 Biologists Wendell Lim and Reid Williams for instance collaborated with IDEO designers Will Carey and Adam Reineck to propose drinking vessels formed from dormant bacteria that, when awakened by water entering the glass, would activate to mix and form a probiotic drink. "The book in a way was laying out what we’ve learned from the residencies, but it asks questions as well,” says Ginsberg. "What is synthetic biology, what is design, what do we want design to be in synthetic biology, and how do we bring its ideas of ethics, innovation and sustainability together?”

Such open-ended questions however feed back into the problem of design fictions. As a field, design fictions is not interested in providing definite answers or pursuing clearly defined goals (à la a brief to design an affordable, ergonomic aluminium stacking chair) and that’s where confusion enters in. Rather than problem solving – as conventional design is typically seen as being –8 it seems most contented when simply probing, holding a mirror up to debates that have no easy answers. "There is an understanding that design can only make stuff to sell, that it translates technology into things to consume,” says Ginsberg. "I think there is room for design practices that challenge and expand that. In a way, my practice is a design-based think tank."

Yet it is a state of affairs that makes the publication of Synthetic Aesthetics significant. Books about design fictions are comparatively rare, a fact that in part contributes to many people’s uncertainty with the discipline: it is simply not well-known enough yet for the process of acclimatisation to have taken place. Prior to Synthetic Aesthetics, the most visible texts in the field have been Dunne’s Hertzian Tales9 and his subsequent collaboration with Raby on 2014’s Speculative Everything. Writing about this latter title, the design scholar and director of London’s Design Museum Deyan Sudjic remarked that "design is about asking questions, as well as answering them” and it is true that the emergence of design fictions is not the first occasion in which design has acted as provocateur. The Italian design avant-garde of the 1970s were highly critical of the society in which they operated for instance and such precedent suggests that there is nothing conceptually confusing in design acting in the way that it does in design fictions. Design fictions aren’t confusing in and of themselves any more than a projection of a train is confusing in and of itself; all that is lacking is familiarity with the discipline.

Publications like Ginsberg's Synthetic Aesthetics are an important step in the acclimatisation process. As we become more used to the notion of design fictions, it becomes easier for them to do the work they were intended for. Rather than prompting confusion and misapprehension, they can begin to spark debate, generate ideas and inspire research. It is a similar process to that which L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat would have gone through more than a century ago. What initially provoked terror was actually a marvel – a train’s arrival preserved on camera; a moment in a Marseillaise town bottled and unstopped in a Parisian theatre. On a second viewing the film’s audience would have seen that."
designfiction  speculativedesign  alexandradaisyginsberg  daisyginsberg  biology  2014  biotechnology  via:anne  anthonydunne  dunne&raby  fionaraby 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Chris Skaife, Master Raven Keeper at the Tower of London, & Merlin the Raven | Spitalfields Life
"The keeping of ravens at the Tower is a serious business, since legend has it that, ‘If the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall…’ Fortunately, we can all rest assured thanks to Chris Skaife who undertakes his breakfast duties conscientiously, delivering bloody morsels to the ravens each dawn and thereby ensuring their continued residence at this most favoured of accommodations.“We keep them in night boxes for their own safety,” Chris explained to me, just in case I should think the ravens were incarcerated at the Tower like those monarchs of yore, “because we have quite a lot of foxes that get in through the sewers at night.”"
ravens  corvids  2014  london  domestication  birds  animals  via:anne  photography  chrisskaife 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease - WSJ.com
"Are butter, cheese and steak really bad for you? The dubious science behind the anti-fat crusade"
may2014dl  food  diet  2014  fat  science  saturatedfats  via:anne 
may 2014 by robertogreco
In this pet cemetery, the phantoms are all still waiting to please | MinnPost
"Inspecting these epitaphs, you begin to see that people’s relationships with their pets are much different from those with their human relatives. The inscriptions on these headstones seem somehow more personal, more loving, more nakedly yearning and emotional than what you typically see on human headstones. There often are thoughtful and moving elegies on human headstones, but there often is restraint.

Walking through the rows of graves at Memorial Pet Cemetery, you come across outpourings of tender devotion that you never would see expressed so freely with humans: “Faithful.” “Darling.” “Precious.” “Thank you for making us happy.” For a guide dog named Smokey: “Thank you for devoting your life to my welfare and safety.” Something about the relationship with a pet frees people to discuss their love and affection in a more unmediated, expressive way.

Many lingering questions
For all this expressiveness and great love, there also is uncertainty.

There are a lot of “?”s listed as the year of birth, as well as some educated guesses where the specifics weren’t known (“Fall 1959” ventures one). You start to understand how these animals came into their owners’ lives. An impressive many have specific dates of birth, which makes you think either the animals were well-bred, with records and certifications available, or perhaps they were part of the litter of another pet, and the owners marked the specific calendar day. But many of these pets don’t have dates of birth. If Laddie or Buddy or Freckles showed up on your doorstep, you could take them to the vet and make a guess as to their birth date, but it’s otherwise unknown.

The sadder corollary to this is that many graves don’t list dates of death. I come across a grave for Richard and Gaia, born 1955 and 1956 respectively. “Two gallant poodles,” exults the headstone. A photo of the pair is attached, but has faded and cracked into illegibility over the decades. Richard and Gaia’s parents are noted as a colonel and his wife, and immediately, I picture a post-war scene of a military man in full regalia, back from the war, driving a roadster around the suburban streets of Roseville or Richfield or Bloomington, his gallant poodles with their heads out the window, tongues wagging.

But the scene gets sadder when Gaia is considered. Richard died in 1969 at the age of 14 – not bad for a poodle – but we don’t know when Gaia died. Gaia’s date of death is left blank. What happened to Gaia? Is she buried here? Did she outlive the colonel? Did the colonel and his wife bury her elsewhere, or did they forget Gaia entirely? Did they not want to pay for the second engraving? It’s hard to know.

Gaia is not the only pet without a date of death carved into the headstone. There are other phantoms. In my rain-soaked, chill-racked brain, I begin to consider the possibility that, hmm, maybe these pets are still alive, 40 and 50 years old. Maybe they’re a little worse for wear, but still doddering across the den to their food bowls as their masters look on and smile. But I know that’s just denial of the sad fact that pets’ lives are, in human terms, short. If you have a pet as a child, it’s almost guaranteed that the pet will die many, many years before you. Maybe it’s that fleetingness that drives people’s unvarnished affection for these companions in death."
pets  relationships  2014  via:anne  death  epitaphs  companionship  andysturdevant 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Aboriginal people – how to misunderstand their science
"Just one generation ago Australian schoolkids were taught that Aboriginal people couldn’t count beyond five, wandered the desert scavenging for food, had no civilisation, couldn’t navigate and peacefully acquiesced when Western Civilisation rescued them in 1788.

How did we get it so wrong?

Australian historian Bill Gammage and others have shown that for many years land was carefully managed by Aboriginal people to maximise productivity. This resulted in fantastically fertile soils, now exploited and almost destroyed by intensive agriculture.

In some cases, Aboriginal people had sophisticated number systems, knew bush medicine, and navigated using stars and oral maps to support flourishing trade routes across the country.

They mounted fierce resistance to the British invaders, and sometimes won significant military victories such as the raids by Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy.

The Yolngu people, in north eastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, long recognised how the tides are linked to the phases of the moon. …"

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/458932709125922816
https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/458934224863518721
https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/458935945488633856
""Only now are we starting to understand Aboriginal intellectual and scientific achievements."
But referring to indigenous ways of knowing as “science” serves to reinforce scientific authority by co-opting other forms of knowledge. Of course, claiming scientific authority can also be very subversive and interesting. It’s a complex issue." ]
australia  science  aboriginal  2014  via:anne 
april 2014 by robertogreco
The Elephant Language
"Overview
Elephants live out their long lives in an exceptionally complex social network of persistent relationships. Their communication system, or language, is similarly complex. Vision and olfaction (smell), in addition to sound, are important for elephant communication.

The video and spectrogram below show an intense greeting between two African forest elephant females, Kate and Tess.

Each rumble appears as a stack of crescent-shaped lines in the spectrogram. These are called 'harmonics' and they are exact multiples of the frequency at which the vocal folds ('cords') vibrate. At several places in this vocal exchange, the voices of the two elephants overlap. This is very typical of greetings like this.

The Elephant Listening Project is focused on acoustic communication because forest elephants are very difficult to observe visually everywhere except during their brief visits to forest clearings. However, all three species of elephant (Asian, African savannah and African forest) make calls with fundamental frequencies below the lower limit of human hearing (20 Hz), in the range called infrasound. These infrasonic calls can travel far through the environment.

We are only in the early stages of decoding this language - understanding the meaning of specific signals so that we can use these to study forest elephants and help in their conservation.

For more videos linking behaviors and different types of calls, see: EleTalk
For a more detailed discussion of the elephant language, see the Dictionary"
animals  language  communication  via:anne  eletalk  elephants  vision  smell  olfaction 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Ethnography, magpies and shiny things - Stripe Partners | Stripe Partners
"This is the first of a three posts exploring the rise, fall and possible futures of ethnography in commercial settings.

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

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



"Ethnography got lost in translation

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

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

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

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

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

Ethnography –different but the same?

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

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

How can ethnography change how we think about people?

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

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

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

Ethnography as a mean of understanding the world was discovered a long time ago. It may not be new, and may no longer be shiny. But it works and it creates value. It’s time to reinvigorate and revive ethnography."
ethnography  2014  via:anne  anthropology  business  dannymiller  research  culture  understanding  observation  interviews  socialinquiry  inquiry 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Society needs more than wonder to respect science : Nature News & Comment
"The risk is that in our intoxication with the 'wonder' of science, we miss its murkiness. Or worse, we deliberately avoid asking the questions that challenge scientists and technologists about the work they do. Lose that critical perspective, and we lose the ability to take an informed view of what it is we want from science. And do we really want science coverage to vie with that witless brand of sports commentating: “He'll be disappointed with that, Brian”? Indeed, won't we all."
2014  via:anne  science  murkiness  messiness  susanwatts  wonder  criticalthinking  technology  crapdetection  belief 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Table | Somatosphere
"Early anthropological experiments depended on tables to hold their equipment steady, at eye level, and off the ground. Photographs from the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits in 1898 make it clear that tables played an important role in the psychological experiments conducted by the anthropologists.

A table is a technology that stabilizes people and things in space for a time. The table, with its chair, enforces a posture of attention to what is on it. It permits display and use of other tools, and enables precise recording on paper. It also allows the display of disparate materials on the same plane in space. Bruno Latour explained the effect of this, as he watched botanists in the field arranging soil and plant samples on tables: “specimens from different locations and times become contemporaries of one another on the flat table, all visible under the same unifying gaze.”[i] The flat plane provided by the table enables the abstraction of dissimilar specimens into categories.

Infrastructures like the table are not necessarily passive. Perhaps the table is even a kind of trap. Open and inviting a table might seem, but once you are sitting at it, certain forms of courtesy might serve to hold you there. Alfred Gell famously described a hunting trap as a device that embodies ideas and conveys meanings because it is a “transformed representation of its maker, the hunter, and the prey animal, its victim, and of their mutual relationship, which . . . is a complex, quintessentially social one. . . traps communicate the idea of a nexus of intentionalities between hunters and prey animals via material forms and mechanisms.”[ii] If the table can be thought of as a kind of trap to capture and contain a subject, it is a disarming one—it looks so placid and innocent, for something that has the potential for intrusion and control. Perhaps this is one reason it has largely gone without notice. Nor need the table, or any technology, only have one use. Think about dinner tables, seminar tables, and of course medical examination tables. Nor are such tools neutral in the play of gender dynamics: think of the “head” of the table, or “high” table, both of which provide a stage for social hierarchies.

Now, at the table: How can we best understand the deep assumptions that govern the scientific method, particularly when it is applied to the human sciences? In particular, how can we identify epistemological assumptions that enable historically specific understandings of such concepts as number, measurement, conservation, time, space, or mass?

I am beginning a new project on the history of the “subject” in experimental psychology. How was (and still is) a living human being held constant in time and space so that comparable data can be extracted from him or her? My participation as a subject in psychology experiments leads me to propose a modest candidate for a scientific technology central to the psychological experiment: the table. Obvious and overlooked, the table is nonetheless an essential accompaniment of civilized living: the first thing Robinson Crusoe did after being shipwrecked on his island was build a table. As he put it, “I could not write or eat, or do several things, with so much comfort, without a table.”[iii]

Down through the ages, anthropologists have had their tables, once used to create an island of French culinary civilization in the Brazilian rain forest. The photograph chosen to represent the ethnographic work of Claude Lévi-Strauss in his obituary showed him in a Brazilian rain forest standing by a table made of sticks lashed together. Laura Bohannan says that among the limited bits of advice given to her about how to do fieldwork in Africa, was this: “You’ll need more tables than you think,” a remark attributed to Evans-Pritchard.

Tables have also been used to corral thought, guide the reader’s mind along a certain course, as in the classic and often quoted examples from Plato and Marx. As usual, such tools do not determine their own use. “Table” is also a verb, as in “table it” in which the “table” holds items of business steady and unchanged in time. There are a myriad practices in meetings involving tables of all kinds, which exert a certain force in governing how matters proceed. Think of referring to “what is on the table,” “setting an agenda,” “laying a question on the table,” “taking a motion from the table,” and so on.

By now you might be wondering why the graphic form drawn on paper, displaying data enclosed in columns and rows is also called a “table”! It might have something to do with early scientific collections, arranged in flat boxes divided up into little square compartments. Or perhaps the table as a graphic form derives from the medieval practices of counting money on tables marked with squares. The table — as a piece of furniture with a flat surface and legs — and the table — as a display of facts in columns and rows — might both trace their genealogies to the Latin tabula rasa, literally ‘scraped tablet.’ The tablet was wax, and it could be heated and smoothed (scraped) to yield the literal origin of the epistemological “blank slate.” Whatever the historical link between the two kinds of tables, they both remain intriguing forms of everyday technology, which guide and form our posture and attention so that we can become, instead of blank slates, stable human subjects in psychology experiments, in the classroom, or at dinner.

In my current project tables are ubiquitous. Tables, with their chairs, keep one’s body in place. In all the experiments I participated in, the experimenter made frequent and repeated requests concerning tables: sit here at the table, pull your chair closer to the table, put your hand on the table, rest your hand flat on the table, arrange the keyboard conveniently on the table. And of course tables hold computers, monitors, keyboards, and recording equipment steady. In the contemporary lab, the place of the psychological subject in relation to the equipment is not open for debate. The subject sits at a table and yields data to the machines.

The table is so embedded in the experimental context that it escapes notice, even though without it the stability of the subject in space and over time would be difficult if not impossible to achieve. Once it becomes evident that the table is an active artifact in the production of knowledge, new possibilities for opening up the nature of the experimental space in psychology abound. Latour was right to say that “Laboratories are excellent sites in which to understand the production of certainty, [but] . . . they have the major disadvantage of relying on the indefinite sedimentation of other disciplines, instruments, languages, and practices. One no longer sees science stammer, making its debut, creating itself from nothing in direct confrontation with the world. In the laboratory there is always a pre-constructed universe that is miraculously similar to that of the sciences.”[iv] After a discussion of the table’s role in experiments, one of my researcher interlocutors began puzzling about what it would take to conduct an experiment about – say – memory in a crowded coffee shop instead of an experimental setting. This was disconcerting to him because leaving the laboratory would mean leaving a world of tables, flat, one dimensional, and still. But anthropologists should take note: even the busiest coffee shop has its tables too."
tables  anthropology  fieldwork  fieldresearch  ethnography  technology  psychology  emilymartin  research  traps  experiments  laboratories  environment  influence  language  via:anne 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Alive in the Sunshine | Jacobin
"There’s no way toward a sustainable future without tackling environmentalism’s old stumbling blocks: consumption and jobs. And the way to do that is through a universal basic income."



"Consumption doesn’t correspond perfectly to income — in large part because of public programs like SNAP that supplement low-income households — but the two are closely linked. The US Congressional Budget Office estimates that the carbon footprint of the top quintile is over three times that of the bottom. Even in relatively egalitarian Canada, the top income decile has a mobility footprint nine times that of the lowest, a consumer goods footprint four times greater, and an overall ecological footprint two-and-a-half times larger. Air travel is frequently pegged as one of the most rapidly growing sources of carbon emissions, but it’s not simply because budget airlines have “democratized the skies” — rather, flying has truly exploded among the hyper-mobile affluent. Thus in Western Europe, the transportation footprint of the top income earners is 250 percent of that of the poor. And global carbon emissions are particularly uneven: the top five hundred million people by income, comprising about 8 percent of global population, are responsible for 50 percent of all emissions. It’s a truly global elite, with high emitters present in all countries of the world."



"We need to think seriously and expansively about these kinds of work and value — and about the real costs that “sustainability” will impose on individuals and communities. And we need to recognize that this is a truly collective project — that individualized, atomized systems of work and reward are increasingly untenable in the face of the interdependent tangle in which we’re enmeshed.

How might we do that? To begin with, by divorcing income from conventional notions of production, and by instituting a social wage in the form of universal basic income. Basic income won’t, in and of itself, solve environmental problems; it won’t replace coal plants with solar panels or ease pressure on depleted aquifers. If instituted as a justification for cuts to other social programs, it would be disastrous both socially and environmentally; robust public services are necessary if we’re to live on less. But it marks a critical starting point in rethinking the relationship between labor, production, and consumption, without which environmental hand-wringing will go nowhere.

More pragmatically, in providing an alternative to dependence on destructive industries and removing the threat of job blackmail from communities desperate for livelihoods, it makes change a real option, giving workers and communities more power to demand protections against environmental harms. It can start to reorient social focus away from an eternal game of consumption catch-up toward the good life.

It admittedly won’t do much to curb the upper bounds of consumption, at least not right away. But it might point in that direction. Environmentalists like to point to World War II for evidence that people will accept restrictions on consumption for the sake of a shared cause, but the so-called Greatest Generation didn’t exactly accept rations with a patriotic grin. What that experience does demonstrate, however, is that while people don’t like limiting consumption under any circumstances, what they really don’t like is cutting back if everyone else isn’t doing the same. That sentiment is typically mobilized in service of anti-welfare politics: why should I have to work if someone else just gets a check? But during the war, it went the other way: over 60 percent of the population supported capping incomes at $25,000 a year, a relatively paltry $315,000 today.

Of course, the post-work future has long been over the horizon; to propose it as a solution to such time-sensitive problems may seem wildly, even irresponsibly utopian. The revolution might happen in time to avoid environmental catastrophe, but we probably shouldn’t count on it, though some African climate activists have put basic income grants, financed by wealthy nations’ payment of ecological debt, at the centerpiece of their demands."



"Even the US presents some interesting opportunities. One prominent alternative to a straight carbon tax or cap-and-trade system is a policy known as tax-and-dividend, in which the proceeds from a carbon tax would be distributed unconditionally to all citizens — similar to the oil dividend paid to every Alaskan resident. It’s defended as a compensatory mechanism for the higher energy prices that would result from a carbon tax; in more bluntly political terms, it functions as a bribe to garner support for a tax that would otherwise be unpopular. There are plenty of criticisms to be leveled against the plan as currently designed, particularly if it’s considered a stand-alone climate solution — individual dividends won’t maintain levees, support public transportation systems, or build affordable urban housing. But it’s also a potential wedge into new obligations and relationships: the first suggestion of an unconditional guaranteed income, financed mostly by a tax on the environmentally destructive consumption habits of the wealthy. It’s an assertion of public ownership of the atmosphere, and the staking of a new claim to public resources.

Viewed as a bulwark linking unconditional livelihood provision to environmental sustainability, it could be the beginning of a much larger project of ensuring decent standards of living for all regardless of productive input, while reclaiming environmental commons from the false yet persistent narrative of tragedy."



"The post-work future is often characterized as a vision of a post-scarcity society. But the dream of freedom from waged labor and self-realization beyond work suddenly looks less like utopia than necessity.

Finding ways to live luxuriously but also lightly, adequately but not ascetically, won’t always be easy. But perhaps in the post-post-scarcity society, somewhere between fears of generalized scarcity and dreams of generalized decadence, we can have the things we never managed to have in the time of supposed abundance: enough for everyone, and time for what we will."
alyssabattistoni  via:anne  economics  income  postcapitalism  capitalism  sustainability  carbonfootprint  environment  environmentalism  class  consumption  jobs  labor  work  compensation  2014  climatechange  growth  policy  universalbasicincome  ubi 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Why You’ll Never Hear Me Use the Term “Mansplain” | xoJane
"More than that, whenever we call a dude a mansplainer, we're knee-jerkily assuming that he is unable to understand anything we're talking about. Which is both a depressing and terribly hopeless way of seeing things. Men are entirely capable of getting sexism and recognizing these issues, but the constant use of mansplaining makes it sound like they're not. It sends expectations through the floor, when really we ought to be expecting guys to step up in these conversations, and learn something.

I don’t avoid using “mansplain” because I’m unwilling to alienate douchebags. Please, rest assured I couldn't care less about protecting douchebag feelings. And I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t use the word. Use it all you like.

I don’t use it because I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that gender is somehow an excuse, or an explanation, for bad behavior. No, I am not angry because I’m on the rag, and a guy is not a douchebag because he has a penis. A douchebag is a douchebag because he or she is a douchebag. And after all, having my authority and ideas shit on by men never did convince me to sit down and shut up and placidly swallow whatever I was told and do whatever was expected of a proper lady -- I don't know why I should expect that returning the favor would suddenly inspire compliance in them either.

I do have names for people who hijack conversations about social justice and try to undermine the difficult or unfamiliar points I am trying to make. I just don’t call them mansplainers. I call them a wide array of things probably inappropriate to publish on this website.

Even if I do happen to be married to one."
via:anne  mansplaining  sexism  feminism  condecention  lesleykinzel  2014  conversation  stereotyping  gender 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Academic Kindness
"A record of unsolicited kindness, unexpected goodwill, and excessive generosity in academia."
kindness  grace  academia  via:anne  highered  highereducation  goodwill  generosity  moreofthisplease 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Questioning the “critical” in Speculative & Critical Design — Designing the Future — Medium
"In the past few days I’ve been following this excellent and profoundly enlightening discussion [http://designandviolence.moma.org/republic-of-salivation-michael-burton-and-michiko-nitta/ ] on MoMA’s Design and Violence page. The conversation, initiated by John Thackara’s comments on Burton Nitta’s project “Republic of Salivation” [http://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/repubicofsalivation.html ], was further developed in the comment section. The issue at stake was the presumed naivety of the project while dealing with a subject that might be dystopian to some, but in some other parts of the world it has been the reality for decades. During the — still ongoing — debate, one of the most pressing issues to emerge was the political accountability of Speculative and Critical Design (from now on, referred to as SCD) or its lack thereof.

When questioned on the validity of a discipline that consistently dismisses and willingly ignores struggles other than those that concern the intellectual white middle classes — precisely the environment where SCD comes from — designer James Auger [http://www.auger-loizeau.com/ ] responded:
What is this obsession with class systems? The UK may have its financial problems but most of us stopped obsessing about these divides in the distant past.

As a brazilian designer based in Germany struggling to understand her position in the blindly privileged environment of SCD, Auger’s reaction sounds all too familiar. Being able to ignore things like class, gender and race is the clearest demonstration of privilege: you don’t notice it (or rather, sometimes knowingly choose not to) precisely because it doesn’t affect you. As a discipline theorised within the safe confines of developed, northern european countries and practiced largely within an overwhelmingly white, male, middle class academic environment, SCD has successfully managed to ignore, or at best only vaguely acknowledge, issues of class, race and gender (with few [http://superflux.in/ ] exceptions [http://sputniko.com/ ]). Instead, the vast majority of the body of work currently available in the field has concentrated its efforts on envisioning near futures that deal with issues that seem much more tangible to their own privileged crowd. Projects that clearly reflect the fear of losing first-world privileges — gastronomical, civil or cultural — in a bleak, dystopic future abound, while practitioners seem to be blissfully unaware (or unwilling to acknowledge, in some cases) of other realities.

The visual discourse of SCD also seems interestingly devoid of people of color, who rarely (if ever) make an appearance in the clean, perfectly squared, aseptic world imagined by these designers-researchers. Couples depicted in these near-future scenarios seem to be consistently heterosexual; there is no poverty, there are no noticeable power structures that divide the wealthy and the poor, or the colonialist and the colonised; gender seems to be an immutable, black-and-white truth, clearly defined between men and women, with virtually no space for trans* and queer identities (let alone queer and trans* voices speaking for themselves). From its visual discourse to its formulations of near-future scenarios, SCD seems to be curiously apathetic and apolitical for a discipline that strives to be a critical response to mainstream perceptions of what design is, and what it should do.

So answering Auger’s pressing question — “What is this obsession with class systems?” —, well: we are obsessed with class systems because we can’t help it. Because, in contrast to most of the practitioners in the field of SCD, we do not have the privilege of not thinking about issues of race, class and gender. Because your dystopia is happening to us right now. It’s happening when we get harassed because of our gender, our class or our ethnicity. It’s happening when a brazilian citizen is killed by british police with no explanation, apology or reason other than being a foreigner [http://www.theguardian.com/uk/menezes ]. It’s happening because where I come from, the reality suggested by The Republic of Salivation isn’t so far-fetched [http://thebrazilbusiness.com/article/cost-of-living-in-brazil-ndash-cesta-basica ]. And because if we don’t call out your privilege — though you dismiss it as “misguided suggestions of privilege” — this is what will keep on happening: SCD will never evolve past a discipline stuck in its own little universe of weather forecasts and smart fridges, incapable of seeing how shallow its own speculations are, and how much more relevant and inclusive they could be.

Right now, SCD’s preoccupations are directed towards nothing more than an alleged “lack of poetic dimensions” in our relationship with electronic objects. The “social narratives” and “criticism” so advertised by the great majority of its practitioners seem to only apply to the aesthetic concerns of the intellectual northern european middle classes. Those dystopian “critical futures” forget (or oversee it for a lack of empathy toward the subject matter) that the very electronic objects that they are talking about not only are — and will continue to be — accessible to a minimum percentage of the world’s population, but also that those who won’t have access to it will likely be exploited to make that reality happen, one way or another. It is extremely frustrating to observe how SCD practitioners depict a dystopian universe where technology comes to paint a world in which their own privileges of their own reality are at stake, while at the same time failing to properly acknowledge that design is a strong contributor to the complete denial of basic human rights to minorities, right here, right now. Those sleek, shiny gadgets and sentient objects and robots SCD designers are keen to portray come only to the aid of white, middle class, cisgendered heterosexual citizens. But no SCD dystopian scenario takes into account that this pervasive “technological menace” will most probably be manufactured in China, Indonesia or Bangladesh (as suggested by Ahmed Ansari [https://twitter.com/aansari86 ] in the comments section in the original post). And I cannot help but reinforce that SCD is a practice whose origins and current developments, so far, happen within colonialist countries.

Despite all of its shortcomings, I do believe that SCD has something necessary and valid to offer to society. I do believe that design is a powerful language, one that it is perfectly positioned to provide relevant social and cultural critique, and that envisioning near future scenarios might just help us reflect on the paths we want to take as a society. In order to truly achieve these goals, however, SCD needs to be held accountable for its political and social positions; it urgently needs to escape its narrow northern european middle class confines; it needs to talk about social change; it needs more diversity, both in its visual representations and in the practitioners in the field. A first step, perhaps, would be to acknowledge that these issues are at stake instead of just dismissing them as useless concerns. Speculative Design can only earn its “Critical” name once it leaves its own comfort zone and start looking beyond privilege, for real.

After all, as brilliantly described by Ahmed in the thread:
The political, economic, social and cultural implications of technologies are never local but always global and systemic — they ripple out and affect people you may never know or see in your lifetime. It’s great to believe in the promise of technological progress when you belong to a class and a society that will directly get to reap its benefits in the end.
via:anne  2014  luizaprado  pedrooliveira  criticaldesign  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  designfiction  priviilege  designimperialism  criticism  design  art  johnthackara  burtonnitta  class  gender  race  speculation  ahmedansari  jamesauger  michaelburton  michikonitta  humanitariandesign 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Morals Without God? - NYTimes.com
"Over the past few years, we have gotten used to a strident atheism arguing that God is not great (Christopher Hitchens) or a delusion (Richard Dawkins). The new atheists call themselves “brights,” thus hinting that believers are not so bright. They urge trust in science, and want to root ethics in a naturalistic worldview.

While I do consider religious institutions and their representatives — popes, bishops, mega-preachers, ayatollahs, and rabbis — fair game for criticism, what good could come from insulting individuals who find value in religion? And more pertinently, what alternative does science have to offer? Science is not in the business of spelling out the meaning of life and even less in telling us how to live our lives. We, scientists, are good at finding out why things are the way they are, or how things work, and I do believe that biology can help us understand what kind of animals we are and why our morality looks the way it does. But to go from there to offering moral guidance seems a stretch.

Even the staunchest atheist growing up in Western society cannot avoid having absorbed the basic tenets of Christian morality. Our societies are steeped in it: everything we have accomplished over the centuries, even science, developed either hand in hand with or in opposition to religion, but never separately. It is impossible to know what morality would look like without religion. It would require a visit to a human culture that is not now and never was religious. That such cultures do not exist should give us pause."

[See also: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mind-reviews-bonobo-and-atheist/ ]
animals  atheism  ethics  philosophy  religion  belief  fransdewaal  via:anne  sciene  evolution  morality  primates  relationships  giving  brain  denbosch  hieronymusbosch  life  living  darwin  altruism  empathy  pleasure  charity  inequity  inequityaversion  dogs  2010  charlesdarwin 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The Internet of What Exactly? | mjays.net by Martin Spindler
"With the Internet of Things gaining in media presence, big corporations realise that there’s something going on that they have no real stake in yet. And they come out rushing. Mostly, that’s in conjunction with creating a new term for that thing that nobody has a solid definition of, so they can own the space. Given that, here’s a quick, tongue-in-cheek primer of what corporations mean when they rebrand the Internet of Things:

The Industrial Internet (GE):
We’re talking about the Internet of really big Things

The Internet of Everything (Cisco):
If everything has an address, it’s like the Internet, but with everything on it

Industry 4.0 (Siemens):
The Internet is like steam – in that we’re thinking about how it affects our machines.

Internet of Customers (Salesforce):
It’s really interesting how your warranty claim is contradicted by your usage pattern.

M-2-M:
We’re putting our SCADA Systems online.

Social Web of Things (Ericsson):
Your toaster wants to be your friend!

Embedded Internet (Intel):
Yay, Microchips Everywhere!

Hyperconnectivity (WEF):
We hear this internet thing is really good at what we used to be good at.

Networked Matter (IFTF):
Because how are we going to act on the world if our brains are uploaded to machines after the singularity?

Web of Things (W3C):
There’s always room for one more standard.

Web Squared (O’Reilly):
Your Information Shadow isn’t restricted to Web 2.0 anymore.

I hope this clears things up. Oh, and if you come across more creative new names for IoT, please do let me know!"
internetofthings  terminology  jargon  corporations  2014  martinspindler  via:anne  iot 
january 2014 by robertogreco
No, there aren’t “two cultures” | Oscillator, Scientific American Blog Network
"To say that science is objectively focused on external reality and not, to quote the best subtitle of all time “produced by people with bodies, situated in time, space, culture, and society, and struggling for credibility and authority,” is to ignore the external reality of how science and culture shape one another through the life and work of scientists. The problem with the “two cultures” concept then is neither that non-scientists don’t know enough about thermodynamics, nor that science can’t fully capture the ineffable power of art, but that separating science off from culture leads to bad science.

The belief that science and scientists are somehow above the influence of cultural forces has made it easier to pass off harmful stereotypes and cultural biases as scientific facts. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the “science” of human difference and the generations of scientists who studied the “natural” inferiority of women and basically any minority group ever. These “scientific” beliefs about human nature change over time not because of the progressive power of science to correct previous errors with new evidence, but because of the changes that happen in culture when disenfranchised people fight hard to be heard — in politics, in art, and in science.

The idea that “true science” is strictly rational, with a clear path leading from questions to answers, organized around the infallible scientific method, is especially damaging for young scientists. When experiments fail or produce inconsistent, confusing data, students get lost in what systems biologist Uri Alon calls “the cloud” — where imagination and intellectual curiosity are necessary to break free. This process only looks plainly rational through 20/20 hindsight, when, following the rubric of the two cultures, scientists painstakingly remove the evidence of their intuitions, leaving a picture of science that is impossible to reproduce.

This is why as a teacher and biologist, I work with artists and social scientists: not to better communicate science through creative packaging, but to understand how cultures, science, and technology intersect. Too often, scientists think of artistic, humanistic, and social scientific methods as ways to make the rational medicine of science go down easier. If science were truly concerned with open inquiry and experimentation, we might look harder for ways to disprove the two cultures hypothesis."

[References William Deresiewicz's book review: "No, Jane Austen Was Not a Game Theorist: Using science to explain art is a good way to butcher both" http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116170/jane-austen-game-theorist-michael-suk-young-chwe-joke ]
twocultures  thirdculture  christinaagapakis  science  humanities  2014  via:anne  culture  dualism  art  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  williamderesiewicz  culturewars  michaelsuk-youngchwe  inquiry  experimentation  openinquiry  criticalthinking  scientism  stereotypes 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Unit of Measure by Sandra Beasley : Poetry Magazine
"All can be measured by the standard of the capybara.
Everyone is lesser than or greater than the capybara.
Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara.
Everything is mistaken for a Brazilian dance craze
more or less frequently than the capybara.
Everyone eats greater or fewer watermelons
than the capybara. Everyone eats more or less bark.
Everyone barks more than or less than the capybara,
who also whistles, clicks, grunts, and emits what is known
as his alarm squeal. Everyone is more or less alarmed
than a capybara, who—because his back legs
are longer than his front legs—feels like
he is going downhill at all times.
Everyone is more or less a master of grasses
than the capybara. Or going by the scientific name,
more or less Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris—
or, going by the Greek translation, more or less
water hog. Everyone is more or less
of a fish than the capybara, defined as the outermost realm
of fishdom by the 16th-century Catholic Church.
Everyone is eaten more or less often for Lent than
the capybara. Shredded, spiced, and served over plantains,
everything tastes more or less like pork
than the capybara. Before you decide that you are
greater than or lesser than a capybara, consider
that while the Brazilian capybara breeds only once a year,
the Venezuelan variety mates continuously.
Consider the last time you mated continuously.
Consider the year of your childhood when you had
exactly as many teeth as the capybara—
twenty—and all yours fell out, and all his
kept growing. Consider how his skin stretches
in only one direction. Accept that you are stretchier
than the capybara. Accept that you have foolishly
distributed your eyes, ears, and nostrils
all over your face. Accept that now you will never be able
to sleep underwater. Accept that the fish
will never gather to your capybara body offering
their soft, finned love. One of us, they say, one of us,
but they will not say it to you."
animals  capybaras  via:anne  poems  poetry  measurement  comparison  sandrabeasley 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Social media: How farmer Gareth Wyn Jones became the Tweeting Farmer - Daily Post
"Gareth’s conversion to the power of social media stemmed from his involvement in the 2009 series of S4C’s Fferm Ffactor. He didn’t win the competition, but his upbeat, offbeat personality gained him new admirers. A new Facebook account soon followed. “Before S4C started doing it,” beamed Gareth, 46.

Initially, progress was slow. The number of followers was low and updating his Facebook account was a chore.

“I’d log on to my home computer and post a message only once every week or fortnight,” he said.

The acquisition of a smart phone 18 months ago (“It’s a Blackberry, don’t ask what type”) changed everything He signed up to Twitter and was instantly hooked by its rapid, continual dialogue.

“Now I can sit in a field waiting for a ewe to lambing, get out my phone and communicate with hundreds of different people,” he said."
farming  ruricomp  twitter  garethwynjones  via:anne  2014  wales  agriculture 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Monkeys Stay Away from Mean People: Scientific American
"Capuchin monkeys show biases against humans who deny help to others. This finding suggests that being able to identify undesirable social partners has ancient evolutionary roots"
via:anne  monkeys  animals  nature  humans  meanness  humanism  2013 
january 2014 by robertogreco
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