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robertogreco : vonnegut   35

Letters of Note: Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088
"The sort of leaders we need now are not those who promise ultimate victory over Nature through perseverance in living as we do right now, but those with the courage and intelligence to present to the world what appears to be Nature's stern but reasonable surrender terms:

1. Reduce and stabilize your population.
2. Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.
3. Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.
4. Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you're at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.
5. Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.
6. Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.
7. And so on. Or else."

[via http://www.openculture.com/2016/07/in-1988-kurt-vonnegut-gives-seven-pieces-advice-to-people-living-in-2088.html
via https://kottke.org/18/07/seven-bits-of-advice-from-kurt-vonnegut-to-people-living-100-years-in-the-future ]
vonnegut  advice  future  environment  sustainability  selfishness  goodancestors  1988  2088  nature  planetearth  spaceshipearth  ecosystems  war  small  slow  waste  wastefulness  escapism  technosolutionism 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Small groups and consultancy and coffee mornings ( 7 Oct., 2015, at Interconnected)
"One permanent pattern in our workshop culture:
Best design consultancy tip I know: Don't criticise without offering something better. Called the Ahtisaari Manoeuvre after an early client


Always have something on the table.

Another: Always use fat pens.

Another: It's important to have the right people in the room -- representing knowledge of technical possibilities, business needs, and market insights. But at the same time, the ideal number of people to have in the room is five or six. Any more than that, you can't continue a single conversation without it turning into a presentation.

Another: The one who understands the client's business best is the client."



"There are a couple of things I'm investigating:

1. That a small group is a powerful way of thinking, and of creating action. That repetition matters, and informality.

2. It might be possible to help with strategy without providing original thought or even active facilitation: To consult without consulting. The answers and even ways of working are inherent in the group itself.

My hunch is this: To answer a business's strategic questions, which will intrinsically involve changing that business, a more permanent solution than a visiting consultant might be to convene a small group, and spend time with it, chatting informally."




"Once a week we get together -- a half dozen students, often Durrell, whoever is teaching the course with him which was Stuart before and Oscar now, plus a special guest.

It's just for coffee somewhere or other, on Friday mornings, and we chat. It's super casual, sharing ideas and references, talking about the brief and design in general.

I'm curious about informality.

The lunchtimes at BERG, everyone around the table with such a broad range of skills and interests... and after Friday Demos - part of the weekly rhythm - the sparked conversations and the on-topic but off-topic sharing... this is where ideas happen too. Between projects but not outside them.

And I think informality as part of the design process is under-communicated, at least where I've been listening. So much work is done like that. The students are great at speaking about their work, sure. But mainly I'm interesting in how we induct someone into a worldview, quickly; how we explain ideas and then listen carefully for feedback, accepting ideas back -- all conversationally, without (and this is the purpose of the special guest) it turning into a seminar or a crit.

I think the best way to communicate this "lunch table" work informality is to rehearse it, to experience it. Which is what the coffee mornings are about.

I try to make sure everyone speaks, and I ask questions to see if I can encourage the removal of lazy abstraction -- words that get in the way of thinking about what's really going on. I'm a participant-observer.

Tbh I'm not sure what to call this. Visiting convener? It's not an official role.

I think (I hope!) everyone is getting something out of the experience, and everyone is becoming more their own kind of designer because of it, and meanwhile I get to explore and experience a small group. A roughly consistent membership, a roughly regular meeting time, an absence of purpose, or rather a purpose that the group is allowed to negotiate at a place within itself.

~

These RCA coffee mornings grew out of my experiment with hardware-ish coffee mornings, a semi-irregular meetup in London having a vague "making things" skew... Internet of Things, hardware startups, knitting, the future of manufacturing and distribution, a morning off work. That sort of thing. People chat, people bring prototypes. There's no single conversation, and only rarely do we do introductions. This invite to a meet in January also lists my principles:

• Space beats structure
• Informality wins
• Convening not chairing
• Bonfires not fireworks

I've been trying to build a street corner, a place to cultivate serendipity and thoughts. Not an event with speakers, there are already several really good ones."



"My setup was that I believed the answer to the issue would come from the group, that they knew more about their business than me.

Which was true. But I also observed that the purpose of the business had recently changed, and while it could be seen by the CEO that the current approach to this design problem wasn't satisfying, there was no way for the group to come together to think about it, and answer it together. Previously they had represented different strands of development within the startup. Now the company was moving to having a new, singular, measurable goal.

So I started seeing the convened discussions as rehearsing a new constellation of the team members and how they used one-another for thinking, and conscious and unconscious decision making. The group meetings would incubate a new way to think together. Do it enough, point out what works, and habits might form.

~

Consulting without consulting."



"I'm not entirely sure where to take these experiments. I'm learning a lot from various coffee mornings, so I'll carry on with those.

I had some conversations earlier in the year about whether it would be possible to act as a creative director, only via regular breakfast conversations, and helping the group self-direct. Dunno. Or maybe there's a way to build a new division in a company. Maybe what I'm actually talking about is board meetings -- I've been a trustee to Startup Weekend Europe for a couple of years, and the quarterly meetings are light touch. But they don't have this small group aspect, it might be that they haven't been as effective as they could be.

There might be something with the street corners and serendipity pattern... When I was doing that three month gig with the government earlier this year, it felt like the people in the civil service - as a whole - had all the knowledge and skills to take advantage of Internet of Things technologies, to deliver services faster and better. But often the knowledge and opportunities weren't meeting up. Maybe an in-person, regular space could help with that.

At a minimum, if I'm learning how to help companies and friends with startups in a useful way that doesn't involve delivering more darn Powerpoint for the meat grinder: Job done.

But perhaps what's happening is I'm teaching myself how to do something else entirely, and I haven't figured out what that is yet.

~

Some art. Some software."
mattwebb  small  groups  groupsize  2015  collaboration  consulting  vonnegut  kurtvonnegut  organization  howwewrite  writing  meaningmaking  patternrecognition  stevenjohnson  devonthink  groupdynamics  psychology  wilfredbion  dependency  pairing  serendipity  trickster  doublebinds  informality  informal  coffeemornings  meetings  crosspollination  conversation  facilitation  catalysts  scenius  experienceingroups 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Writing, Unteachable or Mistaught? | the becoming radical
"This experience has highlighted for me two important points:

1. Most people (students and academics/teachers included) are not writers, but people who occasionally write (and then, that occasion is often under some compelling requirement and not the “choice” of the person writing).
2. Especially people who occasionally write, and then most often under that compelling reason or situation, suffer from an inordinate sense of paralysis (I am going to argue further below) because they have been mistaught how to write (predominantly by template and prompt).

Since most teachers of English/ELA and any discipline in which the teacher must teach writing are themselves not writers, the default approach to writing is at least informed by if not couched in Mike’s view of writing—one that has been fostered by template and prompted writing instruction (the authoritarian nod in Vonnegut invoking God above).

And this is my big picture philosophical and pedagogical problem with depending on the five-paragraph essay as the primary way in which we teach students to write: Visual art classes that aim to teach students to paint do not use paint-by-numbers to prepare novices to be artists, and I would argue, that is because those teachers are themselves artists (not teachers who occasionally paint).

However, most teachers of writing in all disciplines are themselves not writers, but teachers who occasionally (or in the past occasionally) write (wrote).

Why Scripts, Templates, and Prompts Fail Students and Writing

In a graduate summer course for English/ELA teachers, I had the students read a commentary by Mike Royko (syndicated columnist) on flag burning. I asked them to mark the parts of the essay and underline the thesis as they read.

And these students who were also teachers dutifully did so.

Royko’s piece in most ways does not conform to the five-paragraph essay, but the teachers marked and labeled an introduction, body, and conclusion—underlining a sentence as the thesis. They immediately imposed onto the essay the script they taught their students (the script they were taught).

When we shared, they noticed differences in their labeling and marking. Most notable was the thesis: Royko’s piece is a snarky, sarcastic commentary that directly states support for flag burning laws but in fact rejects flag burning laws by sarcastic implication.

As a consequence, no direct thesis exists—although we can fairly paraphrase one.

I continue to use examples such as this with first-year students to investigate and challenge templates for essays they have been taught (for example, essays by Barbara Kingsolver) in order to work toward what Johns calls “genre awareness” instead of “genre acquisition.”

Yes, essays have openings that tend to focus the reader, but most openings are primarily concerned with grabbing and maintaining the reader’s interest. And openings are typically far more than one paragraph (essays have paragraphs of many different lengths as well, some as brief as one word or sentence).

Essays then proceed in many different ways—although guided by concepts such as cohesion and purpose.

And then, essays end some way, a way I would argue that is not “restate your introduction in different words” (the Kingsolver essay linked above frames the essay on attitudes toward children with an opening and then closing personal narrative about Spain).

Ultimately, the five-paragraph essay allows both teachers and students to avoid the messy and complicated business that is writing—many dozens of choices with purpose and intent.

Scripts, templates, and prompts do most of the work for student—leaving them almost no opportunities to experiment with the writer’s craft, whether that be in the service of history, science, or any other discipline. Without purposeful practice in the business of writing (making purposeful decisions while implementing the writer’s genre awareness against the constraints of the writing expectations), students (and even academics) are often left in some degree of paralysis when asked to perform authentically as writers.

As Zach Weiner’s comic succinctly illustrates, the five-paragraph template/script and writing prompt serve greater ease in assigning and grading writing (absolving the writing teacher of having expertise and experience as a writer, in fact), but as the student in the comic declares: “Suddenly I hate writing.”

And as Jennifer Gray details:
[M]any of [the students] checked out of the writing process and merely performed for the teacher. Their descriptions about their writing lack enthusiasm and engagement; instead, they reflect obedience and resignation. That is not the kind of writer I want in my classes; I want to see students actively engaged with their work, finding value and importance in the work.



As much as I love Vonnegut, I disagree about writing being unteachable. And his own role as mainly a writer who occasionally taught writing presents another lesson:
Nothing is known about helping real writers to write better. I have discovered almost nothing about it during the past two years. I now make to my successor at Iowa a gift of the one rule that seemed to work for me: Leave real writers alone.

Well, yes, we do know quite a great deal about teaching writing—and we have for many decades. So if “leave them alone” means do not use artificial scripts, I am all in, but certainly developing writers of all ages can be fostered directly by the teacher.

I am left to worry, then, that the main problem we have with teaching writing is that for too long, we have mistaught it as people who occasionally write, and not as writers and as teachers.

This is a herculean ask, of course, that we be writers and teachers.

But for the many who do not now consider themselves writers but must teach writing, it is the opportunity to begin the journey to being a writer with students by committing to genre awareness instead of genre acquisition.

Awareness comes from investigating the form you wish to produce (not imposing a template onto a form or genre). Investigate poetry in order to write poetry; investigate essays in order to write essays.

But set artificial and simplistic templates and scripts aside so that you and your students can see the form you wish to write.

Kingsolver’s warning about child rearing also serves us well as teachers lured by the Siren’s song of the five-paragraph essay: “Be careful what you give children, or don’t, for sooner or later you will always get it back.”"
teaching  writing  teachingwriting  education  2015  plthomas  fiveparagraphessays  vonnegut  jennifergray  zachweiner  mikeroyko  kurtvonnegut  paulthomas 
june 2015 by robertogreco
On Kindness | Practical Theory
"“There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

— Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Tonight, a bunch of people I know, like and respect shared yet another video on Facebook of someone accidentally making a fool of themselves. The people who shared it were other educators, some SLA students, folks I know from other parts of my life… folks from across the myriad pathways of my life. I can only imagine how many times that video has been seen across the world by now.

For whatever reason, tonight, that made me really sad. I wondered what those people would think if that was their student, their parent, their child, their sibling. We’ve become callous to the people in those videos, to the people behind the screen, and maybe too many of us are callous to the people we see in person every day.

Certainly, Schadenfreude is nothing new. People have long gotten pleasure in the suffering of others. But that doesn’t make it right.

More than anything else in this world, I value kindness – real kindness where we extend ourselves to others simply because we can.

Kindness is more than being nice. Kindness requires empathy. It requires listening. It actually requires asking people what they need – not giving them what we think they need, but listening to their needs and acting upon them.

When we engage in true kindness, we must remove the space between us and those around us. We must learn to not treat people as “The Other.” We must enter into what Martin Buber called the “I and Thou” relationship. And it means we must acknowledge that other people are as important as we are.

I want to live in a world where people think about being kind as a reflex. I want to see schools where students, teachers, administrators are willing to see each other, listen to each other, and treat each other with kindness and care.

I truly believe that if we can build schools that operate first and foremost from a place of kindness that our kids can build a world that does as well. Our students will learn what we teach, what we model, what we live. Could there be anything more powerful than seeing our students go out and change the world to a place where people truly cared for one another?

As Mr. Vonnegut said, “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”"
chrislehmann  kindness  2015  education  schools  teaching  humanism  empathy  martinbuber  kurtvonnegut  schadenfreude  behavior  vonnegut 
may 2015 by robertogreco
/ / / / • America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its...
"America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves."

—Kurt Vonnegut [from Slaughterhouse-Five]
slaughterhouse-five  kurtvonnegut  us  poverty  wealth  wisdom  capitalism  power  truth  money  dignity  kinhubbard  blame  vonnegut 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Station identification | Magical Nihilism
“Have you ever read the speech he made when he accepted the Nobel Prize? This is the whole speech: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen. I stand before you now because I never stopped dawdling like an eight-year-old on a spring morning on his way to school. Anything can make me stop and look and wonder, and sometimes learn. I am a very happy man. Thank you.’”

– Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
cat'scradle  kurtvonnegut  dawdling  neoteny  wonder  learning  looking  noticing  vonnegut 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Structure is Not Sacrosanct:  A Pedagogical How-to | Keep Learning
"More and more of the mainstream news conversation about educational technology and online learning drapes the efforts of software developers, politicians and venture capitalists in terms of revolution, calling out a structure they claim has not changed in 200 or even 1000 years. Despite their dissatisfaction with existing learning structure and a groundswell for innovation, the vision of higher education they offer continues to involve designing system software based around the centralization of content and the consolidation of administrative systems. Having content at the forefront of an education system dates back over 2500 years to the schools of ancient Greece. 2500 years ago it made sense to design based around content; information was neither free nor ubiquitous, and the role of a school was in part to share information but also to collect, curate and preserve content and artifacts, elements equal in importance at the time. Today’s schools no longer must serve four objectives, yet the so-called revolutionary online learning design continues to adhere to this arcane structure.

Why is true innovation so hard? There is a lesson to be learned in narrative structure. The authorized method of teaching narrative structure in K-12 education is to employ Freytag’s Pyramid, a narrative example conceptualized by 19th Century German realist poet Gustav Freytag. The structure is simple and has symmetry: stories have a conflict, rising action, a climax, falling action and a resolution. Today we use this structure to teach narrative in elementary schools (often calling it the witch’s hat based on its appearance), help students study for standardized tests, and depend on it as a frame of reference for college admission testing.

There are two significant problems with Freytag’s Pyramid, however. First, it does not work at all. Outside of Greek tragedies and neoclassical drama such as Shakespeare, story and narrative does not fit the pyramid; users of the structure are forced to stretch, contort and maul either the pyramid or the story to attempt to find a fit. This is because of the second problem with Freytag’s Pyramid: Freytag himself did not believe it was a universal fit for narrative structure. The pyramid was an effort to connect the German realism movement to classical antiquity, an attempt to distinguish realism from other artistic and cultural movements at the time by attaching it to a well-respected structure. Said Freytag, “That the technique of the drama is nothing absolute and unchangeable scarcely need be stated.” By 1913, his work was seen as waxing nostalgic, an effort to remain relevant despite time having passed him by. A much better example of structure comes from Kurt Vonnegut, who used an axis for time and fortune to plot various story structures, each one able to exist on the simple coordinate plane but unique based on its specific needs. Vonnegut allowed the story to dictate the kind of structure used, but built it in a similar space so there is a point of reference despite difference. This representation of structure sees it as fluid, dynamic and story-driven rather than Freytag’s Pyramid which is rigid, static and structure-driven.

The axis-as-structure motif is a fitting analogy for a student-centered conversation about digital structure. With the Internet as the coordinate plane, imagining the manner in which digital structure can aid student learning becomes an expansive conversation. That breadth can be frightening, and its infinite scope could be the reason many people adhere to singular and static structure. But the openness is necessary, and when seen from a place of opportunity rather than obstacle, it is liberating in terms of knowledge creation, communication and collaboration. Rather than putting a wiki in an LMS and neutering its open purpose with a closed space, students can engage existing wikis or take ownership and utilize Smallest Federated Wiki. Instead of flipping the classroom and sending students home to watch video lectures, teachers can scramble the classroom and have students reuse, remix, revise and redistribute objective-based learning artifacts on the subject at hand. Rather than turning in an assignment to Dropbox or an LMS, students can use a document share service or host them on a personal web space, creating a place of digital ownership and digital identity. The structure can fit the need of the student rather than the student twisting and bending to attempt to match the structure.

Change is difficult to massage in any space, and academia is no exception. Faculty speak of challenges in implementing such initiatives due to resistance from faculty affairs, information technology and the registrar, for starters. These scholastic elements are charged with ensuring rigor, support and accreditation, so their concerns are valid. It is important to remember, however, that our schools are no longer in ancient Greece, and no matter the lenses we use to do our duties, every person’s objective is to assist the learner in their journey to wisdom. The opportunity to speak to these entities about the obstacles in implementing cutting-edge digital pedagogy should be relished, and the perspectives of these departments are an important contribution to furthering our field. Educating a citizenry has a history of over 2500 years, and conversations about teaching and learning have only become popular over the past generation, so let us have all perspectives at the table and be willing to engage in the difficult discussions of scale, access, support and cost, as long as we always keep the student at the forefront. Change happens with action, but it starts with dialogue."
structure  storytelling  writing  narrative  2014  pedagogy  teachingwriting  gustavfreytag  kurtvonnegut  change  technology  lms  systems  vonnegut 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Dedicated — Every successful creative person creates with an...
“Every successful creative person creates with an audience of one in mind. That’s the secret of artistic unity. Anybody can achieve it, if he or she will make something with only one person in mind.” —Kurt Vonnegut
kurtvonnegut  audiencesofone  audience  vonnegut 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Manso: Jay Porter Interview #3, Part 2
[Also available here: http://jayporter.com/dispatches/san-diego-exit-interview-part-2/ ]

"I talk to people about this a lot. Because of the interviews we’ve done in the past, I know about the business, and I’m a Linkery booster. People tell me, “I really like the idea of the Linkery.” I say, “yeah, it’s an awesome idea.” But they say “I like the idea of the Linkery more than I like the Linkery itself.” And because it was a huge idea that existed in a very robust way, virtually, people could experience it without ever going there.

It was principally an idea. It was an Internet-operated idea. The thing was real, it was real people and real products, but the operations were very much facilitated by the Internet. Our fundamental marketing plan was to do remarkable things and share them in this very transparent way through a blog and by talking honestly about what we were doing. Which in 2005 was a radical idea for a restaurant.

The idea that you could start a blog and newsletter and get people into your local restaurant by saying, hey we got this one pig from this farm, and here’s what we’re doing in the kitchen today, and here’s who we want to win the soccer match…it all feels like Portlandia now, but in 2005 even Portland wasn’t doing it!

My background was, I had really followed where “Web 2.0” companies were going, and how they were communicating with their audiences, and how they were transforming the relationship between companies and their customers. And the Open Source movement really came together at that time. The essay The Cathedral and The Bazaar was such an influential thing for me, I think I read that right before we started the restaurant.

I read that. We probably read it at the exact same time.

Open Source was really catching fire. I was using all the Gnu tools because I was a geek. But it wasn’t long until, for example, my Mom knew what Linux was. Open Source was exploding. It informed so much of how I conceived of the business.

Even when, say, Michael came on as GM, or our chefs would start with us, that was just part of working for our business: We’re super transparent. We blog about things. We take pictures of things. Communication is an essential part of our jobs. We’re building enthusiasm for this kind of food. And then there was the part where we were finding farmers on the Internet, and saying, hey, we think you’re selling what we want to buy, or we think that you might be able to grow what we want to buy. And that was all very tech-driven.

But I think that, as with a lot of these kinds of projects, we also discovered the limits of this approach. Which was, it became too easy to consume the Linkery without actually experiencing the Linkery.

That’s also where I lost interest with a lot of the infrastructure of reviews and critics – I personally like the critics in town, but the infrastructure, including Yelp or whatever, is set up to treat what the restaurant does only as content to be reviewed, in order to generate more content.

Our online presence became its own, free, content that we were delivering to people who then added their own content around it, and then they sold it one way or another, without anybody ever just fucking eating a hot dog. And in the end, the guy who makes the hot dogs has to get fucking paid, no matter how many Yelp reviews get written, or how many articles get written about my blog post or whatever.

Now, the opportunity to build a new business from scratch is a great opportunity, and what’s become clear as we put the new place together is this: as a restaurant operator, I am not in the business of content. I’m not in the business of making things for people to write about. I’m in the business of creating fantastic experiences around local food. And, those experiences are really hard to have on the Internet. You gotta show up for that shit.

So we’re intentionally building our new restaurant to not have a strong online component, or a content-generation component.

But hey, if you want to pay me to write something for you, I’m happy to do that.

If you’re getting paid to write something, then that’s what you’re selling.

There’s a great quote from when Alec Baldwin had Seinfield on his podcast. Alec Baldwin says, “you could have your entire channel. Your own production company, you produce all your own shows, and you could be raking it in, because, it’s all produced by Jerry Seinfeld.” And Seinfeld says, “you could not even sell me that. You know why I wouldn’t do that.”

Baldwin says – I think in legitimate confusion – “I don’t understand.” And Seinfeld says, “because that’s not the thing. I want to connect with my audience. I want to write. That’s the thing.” And then he used this great metaphor, he says, “if you want to experience the ocean, do you want to be on a surfboard or do you want to be on a yacht? I want to be on a surfboard. People have a yacht so they can say, hey, look at my yacht.”

You realize the thing that you’re trying to do and the thing that you’re building have nothing to do with each other.

Yeah, I really misjudged. It started out as a really great way to distinguish ourselves as being different from other restaurants and to communicate what we were really about. It was highly effective for that. But in the end it became its own thing with its own overhead. I stopped feeding that beast a year or two before we sold the restaurant, I really just put up pictures at that point.

Which I think is an amazing thing about technology now. Instagram really is all you need. You can be like, “here, we made something awesome.” It takes you three seconds.

And now, the contextual cues make it clear what you’re about. In 2006, we had to really explain, here is what we believe, this is why we do this, this is who we’re buying from. But now, people understand a restaurant that blogs its ingredients and dishes. You could start a restaurant called “A Blog of Ingredients and Dishes” and people would know exactly what kind of food you serve.

Naming what farms you’re sourcing from and all that. People get it.

Yeah, it’s cool, I don’t want to eat differently than that. But there’s not much needed in terms of explaining what it’s all about. A Tumblr will do the trick fine.

You don’t need to host your own Wordpress blog anymore.

Do you know who Austin Kleon is? He’s really popular on Tumblr. He wrote a book called “Steal Like An Artist”.

I’ve seen that book.

He has a new book coming out called “Show Your Work.” Which I haven’t read obviously because it’s not out yet. But I’m already taking issue with it. Show your work, yes, because there’s real value in that, but that’s also work. To show your work, is also more work that isn’t your work. If you’re not getting paid for it, and if it’s distracting from what you’re actually trying to do, then don’t.

I just think a big thing right now is that, the Internet, and everyone who sits at work googling shit, and reads Facebook and their RSS reader – and I’m part of that Borg – it just creates such a demand for content that nobody’s ever satisfied. You’re not giving them enough free content.

This was a discussion that we’d have sometimes with people who wanted to review us, or write about us, or with Yelp or whoever. I’d say, you know, I don’t really care. I’m not in the business of giving you something to write about.

Look, a restaurant lives in an ecosystem of reviewers and there’s a give-and-take. It’s an environment, and you work with the restaurant media to make sure that they have enough content to keep interest in restaurants alive, and to keep their jobs going. And they in turn are respectful of the realities of restaurants, they don’t run hatchet pieces all the time. Those are the professionals, the professional restauranteurs and the professional writers, and they understand that this is how this thing works. There is a demand for written content and restaurant experiences, and together the restaurant media and the restaurants can create a really positive environment around it. The core professionals understand this.

But in a slightly more outer circle, there may be some slightly less sophisticated people, maybe they are working in the media – whether it’s print or small blogs or whatever – and some of those people really just look at the restaurants as ways of generating content. And when this happens, I’m kind of like, dude, not only do I not really want to help you with this, I don’t want you in my place. You’re not helping this guy, who’s sitting next to you at the bar, who just had a shitty day at work and he came to his favorite local place to be around friends and enjoy some food that he really likes – you’re not helping him have a better time. You’re not helping my employees do their jobs better or make a better living. You’re just kind of in here, trying to improve your own career on top of something that has nothing to do with you and that’s – that makes you kind of a dick.

Because he’ll be trying to create something, “there’s a narrative here”, and maybe there is, but it’s probably not what he’s going to write about…

There actually is a really interesting parallel with what I’ve been reading a lot lately, this kind of “new generation” of highly intelligent sportswriting. Writers like Spencer Hall of SBNation, David J Roth who started a magazine called the Classical…

I don’t know shit about sports, so –

Well, sports is just a way that society expresses itself. A lot of these writers see within sports how society is expressing itself and they write about that.

It’s a vessel to describe society.

So a topic that’s come up with some of these more interesting sportswriters is how sports now serves this purpose, for shitty media outlets to read narrative into everything. Today, nobody just scores a touchdown, instead the touchdown marks a point in … [more]
jedsundwall  jayporter  meta  metadata  making  doing  internet  content  sports  journalism  criticism  2014  interviews  narrative  storytelling  instagram  twitter  data  documentation  thelinkery  restaurants  process  austinkleon  alecbaldwin  howweowork  food  opensource  workinginpublic  nassimtaleb  privilege  luck  business  success  blackswans  emergence  jamesfowler  sethgodin  kurtvonnegut  vonnegut 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Harrison Bergeron - Wikipedia
""Harrison Bergeron" is a satirical and dystopian science-fiction short story written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and first published in October 1961. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the story was republished in the author's Welcome to the Monkey House collection in 1968. The satire raises a serious question concerning desirability of social equality and the extent to which society is prepared to achieve it.

It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is smarter, better-looking, stronger, or faster than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced. The government forces citizens to wear "handicaps" (a mask if they are too handsome or beautiful, earphones with deafening radio signals to make intelligent people unable to concentrate and form thoughts, and heavy weights to slow down those who are too strong or fast).

One April, 14 year old Harrison Bergeron, an extremely handsome teenage genius, is taken away from his parents, George and Hazel, by the government. George and Hazel are not fully aware of the tragedy. Hazel's lack of awareness is due to "average" intelligence, which in 2081, is the politically correct way of referring to someone of well-below-average intelligence. George does not comprehend the tragedy since the law requires him to wear the radio ear piece for twenty-four hours a day because he is of above-average intelligence."
kurtvonnegut  shortstories  classideas  dystopia  equality  books  toread  srg  scifi  vonnegut 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Pantograph Punch — At the Service of the Unusual
"Throughout our discussion Shaun kept talking about engineers. At the time I had very little idea what an engineer did but it was their language Shaun was using. Instead of adapting Shaun’s words into something I understood, something familiar, I wondered what would happen if I put my work at the service of the unusual. If I let the ideas and words of engineering rule my work rather than trying to force them into the shape of conventional fiction. Would I be able to recreate the odd way I had perceived those buildings on that day?"



"Where I’d always aimed to achieve mimicry I needed to attain literacy. I needed to find some engineers but I couldn’t just observe them, I needed to come out from the corners and ask them to teach me and test me. I found one engineer in particular, Andrew Charleson. Andrew works at Victoria University School of Architecture and Design. When I first met him he described himself as an engineer who had been ‘acrhictectualised’. He told me, if I was serious, I needed to take some courses he was running about structure."



"George Saunders was an engineer, so was Fyodor Dostoevsky, Neville Shute, Robert Musil, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. Also, most of the engineers I talked to had a very wide reading habit. The myth of men reading only non-fiction seemed to be smashed by the engineers I met, a couple of whom wrote short stories and poetry themselves. But I wasn’t an engineer who wrote fiction, I was a writer who was pretending, play-acting at being an engineering student."
writing  empathy  learning  engineering  perception  language  vocabulary  thinking  mindset  georgesaunders  dostoyevsky  nevilleshute  robertmusil  robertlouisstevenson  kurtvonnegut  lspraguedecamp  normanmailer  2013  pipadam  poetry  storytelling  pretending  playacting  fiction  mimicry  vonnegut 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Why You Never Truly Leave High School: New science on its corrosive, traumatizing effects. -- New York Magazine
"Our self-image from those years, in other words, is especially adhesive. So, too, are our preferences. “There’s no reason why, at the age of 60, I should still be listening to the Allman Brothers,” Steinberg says. “Yet no matter how old you are, the music you listen to for the rest of your life is probably what you listened to when you were an adolescent.” Only extremely recent advances in neuroscience have begun to help explain why.

It turns out that just before adolescence, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that governs our ability to reason, grasp abstractions, control impulses, and self-­reflect—undergoes a huge flurry of activity, giving young adults the intellectual capacity to form an identity, to develop the notion of a self. Any cultural stimuli we are exposed to during puberty can, therefore, make more of an impression, because we’re now perceiving them discerningly and metacognitively as things to sweep into our self-concepts or reject (I am the kind of person who likes the Allman Brothers). “During times when your identity is in transition,” says Steinberg, “it’s possible you store memories better than you do in times of stability.”"



"Until the Great Depression, the majority of American adolescents didn’t even graduate from high school. Once kids hit their teen years, they did a variety of things: farmed, helped run the home, earned a regular wage. Before the banning of child labor, they worked in factories and textile mills and mines. All were different roads to adulthood; many were undesirable, if not outright Dickensian. But these disparate paths did arguably have one virtue in common: They placed adolescent children alongside adults. They were not sequestered as they matured. Now teens live in a biosphere of their own. In their recent book Escaping the Endless Adolescence, psychologists Joseph and Claudia Worrell Allen note that teenagers today spend just 16 hours per week interacting with adults and 60 with their cohort. One century ago, it was almost exactly the reverse.

Something happens when children spend so much time apart from adult company. They start to generate a culture with independent values and priorities. James Coleman, a renowned mid-century sociologist, was among the first to analyze that culture in his seminal 1961 work, The Adolescent Society, and he wasn’t very impressed. “Our society has within its midst a set of small teen-age societies,” he wrote, “which focus teen-age interests and attitudes on things far removed from adult responsibilities.” Yes, his words were prudish, but many parents have had some version of these misgivings ever since, especially those who’ve consciously opted not to send their kids into the Roman amphi­theater. (From the website of the National Home Education Network: “Ironically, one of the reasons many of us have chosen to educate our own is precisely this very issue of socialization! Children spending time with individuals of all ages more closely resembles real life than does a same-age school setting.”)"
adolescence  adolescents  childhood  culture  argentina  photography  identity  highschool  society  socialization  social  memory  memories  stability  change  transition  neuroscience  ervinggoffman  brenébrown  shame  self-consciousness  tavigevinson  kojiueno  winnieholzman  kurtvonnegut  deborahyurgelun-todd  popularity  facebook  keithhampton  breakfastclub  peers  self-image  paulfeig  robertfaris  irinawrning  patlevitt  laurencesteinberg  deborahcarr  robertcrosnoe  jamescoleman  unschooling  deschooling  development  sociology  psychology  agesegregation  teens  parenting  vonnegut 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Semicolons: A Love Story - NYTimes.com
"And so, far from being pretentious, semicolons can be positively democratic. To use a semicolon properly can be an act of faith. It’s a way of saying to the reader, who is already holding one bag of groceries, here, I know it’s a lot, but can you take another? And then (in the case of William James) another? And another? And one more? Which sounds, of course, dreadful, and like just the sort of discourtesy a writer ought strenuously to avoid. But the truth is that there can be something wonderful in being festooned in carefully balanced bags; there’s a kind of exquisite tension, a feeling of delicious responsibility, in being so loaded up that you seem to have half a grocery store suspended from your body.

So yes, Kurt Vonnegut: simplicity, in grammar as in all things, is a virtue, not to be sneezed at. But I can’t agree that semicolons represent absolutely nothing; …"
usage  bendolnick  writing  kurtvonnegut  literature  punctuation  grammar  2012  semicolon  semicolons  vonnegut 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Fables of Wealth - NYTimes.com
"ethics in capitalism is purely optional, purely extrinsic. To expect morality in the market is to commit a category error. Capitalist values are antithetical to Christian ones… Capitalist values are also antithetical to democratic ones…

…neither entrepreneurs nor the rich have a monopoly on brains, sweat or risk. There are scientists — and artists and scholars — who are just as smart as any entrepreneur, only they are interested in different rewards.

…“Poor Americans are urged to hate themselves,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote in “Slaughterhouse-Five.” And so, “they mock themselves and glorify their betters.” Our most destructive lie, he added, “is that it is very easy for any American to make money.” The lie goes on. The poor are lazy, stupid and evil. The rich are brilliant, courageous and good. They shower their beneficence upon the rest of us."

[See also: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/421662-america-is-the-wealthiest-nation-on-earth-but-its-people

"America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves…. It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters."]
politics  classwarfare  poverty  lies  incompatibility  democracy  kurtvonnegut  finance  wallstreet  1%  policy  government  jobcreation  wealth  psychopathy  morality  ethics  motivation  science  art  corporations  corporatism  corporateculture  businessschool  business  entrepreneurship  christianity  capitalism  2012  williamderesiewicz  vonnegut  slaughterhouse-five 
may 2012 by robertogreco
92nd Street Y (Kurt Vonnegut Audio: May 1983)
"This admiration for unclear writing, for failures to communicate completely and so forth, as though this were artistic — this dates back to a time when people wrote under tyranny, when there were certain things they could not mention…but we have the first amendment, where we can say any damned thing we want to, and I see no reason not to state whatever is on your mind as clearly as possible."

[via: http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/8196175935 ]
kurtvonnegut  vonnegut  writing  clarity  communication  classideas 
july 2011 by robertogreco
books read feb to apr 2011 ( 7 May., 2011, at Interconnected)
"Bluebeard is probably my favourite Vonnegut… [Mine too!]

Anyway, at this moment Vonnegut puts into Karabekian's mouth a defence of this fictional art as fine as I have ever read:

"I now give you my word of honor that the picture your city owns show everything about life which truly matters, with nothing left out. It is a picture of the awareness of every animals--the 'I am' to which all messages are sent. It is all that is alive in any of us--in a mouse, in a deer, in a cocktail waitress. It is unwavering and pure, no matter what preposterous adventure may befall us. A sacred picture of Saint Antony alone is one vertical, unwavering band of light. If a cockroach were near him, or a cocktail waitress, the picture would show two such bands of light. Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.""
mattwebb  vonnegut  bluebeard  abstractexpressionism  abstract  art  rabokarabekian  awareness  life  whatmatters  being  light  2011  books  kurtvonnegut 
may 2011 by robertogreco
OKBB — austinkleon: Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of...
Austin Kloen: "This is so great. I’ve read the Palm Sunday chapter where he goes into this a dozen times, but seeing him draw on the chalkboard for the audience is just the best. Thanks, Maud!"<br />
<br />
Kate Bingamam Burt: "Holy Mother. Kurt Vonnegut talking and drawing about the shapes of stories. I LOVE THIS MAN."
vonnegut  drawing  stories  storytelling  classideas  chalkboards  kurtvonnegut 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Mavenist | What should young people do with their lives...
"What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured." —Kurt Vonnegut
loneliness  vonnegut  youth  community  stability  well-being  life  wisdom  quotes  kurtvonnegut 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The following is from Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut (22 January 2003, Interconnected)
"Paul Slazinger has had all his clothes and writing materials brought here. He is working on his first volume of non-fiction, to which he has given this title: The Only Way to Have a Successful Revolution in Any Field of Human Activity.

For what it's worth: Slazinger claims to have learned from history that most people cannot open their minds to new ideas unless a mind-opening team with a peculiar membership goes to work on them. Otherwise, life will go on exactly as before, no matter how painful, unrealistic, unjust, ludicrous, or downright dumb that life may be.

The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise, the revolution, whether in politics or the arts of the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.

The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius -- a person capable of having seeminly good ideas not in general circulation. 'A genius working alone,' he says, 'is invariably ignored as a lunatic.'

The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. 'A person working like that alone,' says Slazinger, 'can only yearn out loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be.'

The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain anything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be. 'He will say almost anything in order to be interesting or exciting,' says Slazinger. 'Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.'"

[Update 13 May 2013: Now also here: http://magicalnihilism.com/2013/05/13/i-can-never-find-this-quote-about-revolutions-by-vonnegut-so-im-sticking-it-here-for-safe-keeping/ and here http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/50358994041/the-mind-opening-team ]
mattwebb  bluebeard  vonnegut  genius  innovation  specialists  communication  translation  cv  revolutions  movements  mindchanges  via:tomc  humans  specialization  generalists  trust  explainers  explaining  testimony  2003  kurtvonnegut  mindchanging 
january 2011 by robertogreco
List of fictional books - Wikipedia
"A fictional book is a non-existent book created specifically for (i.e. within) a work of fiction. This is not a list of works of fiction (i.e., actual novels, mysteries, etc), but rather imaginary books that do not actually exist.

Uses: Such a book may (1) provide the basis of the novel's plot, (2) add verisimilitude by supplying plausible background, or (3) act as a common thread in a series of books or the works of a particular writer or canon of work. A fictional book may also (4) be used as a conceit to illustrate a story within a story, or (5) be essentially a joke title, thus helping to establish the humorous or satirical tone of the work. (Fictional books used as hoaxes or as purported support for actual research are usually referred to as false documents.)"
borges  umbertoeco  michaelchabon  italocalvino  neilgaiman  philipkdick  aldoushuxley  johnirving  kafka  georgeorwell  orhanpamuk  thomaspynchon  vonnegut  wikipedia  writing  fiction  lists  literature  books  meta  invention  verisimilitude  kurtvonnegut 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero — Text Playlist
"I do a bit of that myself, but I keep what I perceive to be a more valuable, important morgue file: one made of the best writing on the web I come across. I take this list and revisit and reread it every 4 to 8 weeks. You could almost consider it a playlist of text: it’s very select (I artificially limit it to 10-15 articles), I typically read them all in one sitting, and the order and pacing is very purposeful. Most revolve around what it’s like to be making things in 2010, and a lot of the people that I respect the most have pieces in it. It’s almost a pep talk in text form. I visit it when I’m down, when I’m lazy, when I’m feeling the inertia take over."
frankchimero  textplaylist  via:lukeneff  mustread  toread  writing  lists  motivation  meditation  inspiration  creativity  blogs  blogging  art  sistercorita  vonnegut  merlinmann  mairakalman  robinsloan  thewire  lizdanzico  jonathanharris  rands  kurtvonnegut  coritakent 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Do blog - Enough
[see also the Vonnegut quote at beginning of the post and previous reference to the MUJI quote: http://doblog.tumblr.com/post/167472813/the-future-of-global-consumption ]

"On a macro level re-gearing machine that is modern economy to a more sustainable model requires many changes, not the least of which is the valuation of the cost of resource depletion, in investment models - “valuing the externalities,” so that appropriate & honest comparisons can be made between, for example, the cost of clean energy & cost of dirty fossil energy. However it is also a reality that as consumers we simply must re-consider the concept of enough. This is tremendously difficult in a world in which we are all exposed to the constant mantra that growth is the only way out of the hole. The retail figures are up they cry, and the markets start to settle and the cycle begins again. But we’re munching relentlessly through the world’s finite resources at the very same time…… Until we are really in tune with the concept of enough (and I confess that I probably find this more difficult than many), I’m not sure a truly sustainable model is an option in the developed world."
economics  consumption  postconsumerism  growth  do  vonnegut  josephheller  sustainability  resources  behavior  kurtvonnegut 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Kurt Vonnegut at the Blackboard - Lapham’s Quarterly
"Now let me give you a marketing tip. The people who can afford to buy books and magazines and go to the movies don’t like to hear about people who are poor or sick, so start your story up here [indicates top of the G-I axis]. You will see this story over and over again. People love it, and it is ..."
vonnegut  storytelling  charts  graphs  humor  infographics  narrative  literature  writing  philosophy  tcsnmy  kurtvonnegut 
march 2010 by robertogreco
“The beliefs I have to defend are so soft and... — BMD Love Blog
“The beliefs I have to defend are so soft and complicated, actually, and, when vivisected, turn into bowls of undifferentiated mush. I am a pacifist, I am an anarchist, I am a planetary citizen, and so on.”
vonnegut  belief  anarchism  pacifism  citizenship  humanity  kurtvonnegut 
december 2009 by robertogreco
GRAPH A STORY WITH MR. VONNEGUT
"Kurt Vonnegut’s master’s thesis in anthropology was rejected by the University of Chicago. “It was rejected because it was so simple and looked like too much fun,” Vonnegut writes. “One must not be too playful.” This excerpt from PALM SUNDAY, is the gist of his argument:"
vonnegut  writing  narrative  story  charts  fiction  books  graphs  storytelling  kurtvonnegut 
october 2009 by robertogreco
kung fu grippe - "...that kind of a machine..."
"I can’t believe I’ve made it this long without ever hearing this audio, described as Vonnegut’s “first public reading of the classic Breakfast of Champions, three years before it was published, on May 4, 1970 at the 92nd Street Y.” ... When you hear Kurt Vonnegut reading this aloud you appreciate the necessity of science fiction; it’s a way we crazy people have of talking about the world without talking about the world. I didn’t always get that, but now I really think I do."
merlinmann  vonnegut  literature  sciencefiction  scifi  writers  books  kurtvonnegut 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Kurt Vonnegut on Writing Better | 43 Folders [expanded here: http://literature.sdsu.edu/onWRITING/vonnegutSTYLE.html]
"The seven points, in all: 1. Find a subject you care about 2. Do not ramble, though 3. Keep it simple 4. Have guts to cut 5. Sound like yourself 6. Say what you mean 7. Pity the readers"
via:blackbeltjones  writing  tips  advice  vonnegut  kurtvonnegut 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Random Etc. : Blog Archive : The Importance of Perspective
“Trout wondered what a child who was just learning to read would make of a message like that. The child would suppose that the message was terrifically important, since somebody had gone to the trouble of writing it in letters so big.”
vonnegut  twitter  writing  blogging  del.icio.us  importance  filtering  information  overload  minutiae  kurtvonnegut 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The Kurt Vonnegut Library
"This website contains all of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels in .pdf form, hosted by the amazing Scribd."
books  literature  vonnegut  pdf  kurtvonnegut 
may 2007 by robertogreco
NPR : Kurt Vonnegut Remembered
"He told students that teaching is friendship, and told artists that their antiwar protests had the power of a banana cream pie. Vonnegut also asked people to notice when they feel happy."
vonnegut  teaching  happiness  friendship  kurtvonnegut 
april 2007 by robertogreco
My Own Private Book Club: Kurt Vonnegut - 8 Rules For Writing Fiction [see also: http://www.43folders.com/2008/07/14/vonnegut-better-writing]
"7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia."
fiction  rules  tips  writing  vonnegut  craft  literature  kurtvonnegut 
april 2007 by robertogreco

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