robertogreco + action   68

0675 – being smart vs being kind - 1,000,000 words by @visakanv
"When I was a child, I was told that I was smart. I wasn’t great at socializing, but I was alright. I was the class clown, the smartass, so I did have some friends. But I never really developed the deep, lasting sort of friendships that some people have for life. Sometimes I felt like I was missing out, but most of the time – even now – I think of it as, ‘that’s just what life is like for misfits’. There’s good and bad, and that’s the ‘bad’. The price you pay.

It took me two decades to really begin to aspire to be kind.

What’s so good about being smart?

1. There is a certain intrinsic pleasure to knowing things. Richard Feynman describes this beautifully in “the pleasure of finding things out”. (He was also a very kind person, I believe.)

2. There’s a practical value to it. Smartness is generally correlated with making good decisions that lead to superior outcomes. (It’s necessary but insufficient – smartness is the sharpness of the knife. You still need to handle the knife well, and apply it to the right things. Lots of smart people obsessively sharpen their knives but don’t use it for anything useful or constructive.)

If you’re smart, in the conventional sense, you should recognize opportunities (in my view this requires sensitivity, in the ‘perceptive’ sense) and take advantage of them (in my view this requires strength, in the ‘executive’ sense). You should also spot potholes and avoid them. (Spotting the pothole is perception. Avoiding it is execution. Smartness is the gap between seeing and doing – smartness is orienting and deciding, maybe.)

3. There’s also a social aspect to smartness. I’m not saying that smartness guarantees social success (though I do believe that if you’re truly smart rather than superficially smart, you’ll figure out how to achieve your social desires and/or modulate them appropriately). What I mean is that there’s a sort of global subculture that venerates smartness. Think of all the tropes of trickster type characters, and how people love brilliant assholes like Tony Stark and Dr. House. If you’re smart, you can satisfy quite a lot of your social needs by scoring points with smartness geeks.

The smartness-as-spectator-sport trap

Here’s where it gets a little dicey – winning friends in most smartness tribes – their approval requires being right. It requires Winning. I’m talking about smartness as a contact sport for spectators. You get rewarded for the most brutal takedowns (“Liberal DESTROYED conservative with simple argument, leaves him SPEECHLESS!”)

When you start to get addicted to winning, you start to get attached. You start to avoid certain things – particularly areas that you’re not so sure about. You start picking your battles according to what’s winnable, rather than what’s most interesting or useful.

This is where we get to what separates the pros from the noobs. The smartest people embrace their ignorance. They are intimately familiar with the limitations of their models, and they are excited when they discover that they’re wrong about something. (I recall this book about physics – “Time, Space and Things” – where the author would spend paragraphs explaining the imperfections of all the models he was about to show us. It was lovely.)

Where does kindness enter the picture? Kindness nourishes (not coddles) fragile things and makes them strong

I find myself thinking about Pixar’s Braintrust. It’s a sort of council of storytellers who provide advice and counsel to whoever’s working on a story. They understand that ideas in their formative stages are precious, fragile things, like babies. You can’t shake them too hard at the start, or they’ll die. You need to nourish them and let them flourish first. You need to ask lots of exploratory questions with good-faith, rather than cross-examine them looking for flaws and mistakes. Once it’s found its legs, THEN you can start to challenge it, spar with it, and it’ll grow stronger as a result.

When I was younger, I truly believed that the best way to learn and grow and progress was to subject everything to relentless scrutiny. To debate, argue, attack from all sides. I still believe that that can be true in some cases, and that individuals who are deeply committed to learning and intellectual development can benefit tremendously from welcoming such behavior. Inviting criticisms and takedowns. Soliciting negative feedback.

BUT, I’ve also grown to learn that there’s this whole other side to the picture. What you see is NOT all there is. There’s a lot that you haven’t seen, that you can’t see – and if you saw it with an open mind, you’d almost definitely revise your model of reality.

In the past, I used to argue violently with everything and everyone. Not in a vicious way, just in a high-contact way. It was a sport, it was a way of life. With every fight, I was learning. (On retrospect, I was often just learning how to fight better, or to pick fights where I’d have a higher probability of winning, but that seemed like progress at the time.)

I lost some friends along the way, which I was sad about. But I usually found a way to live with it – mostly by convincing myself that they had in some way been too sensitive.

I had a Kurt Cobain quote in mind – “Better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you’re not”. It seemed radically profound at the time, but on retrospect that’s entire oversimplistic thinking. We have more than two options. (Also, I’m now the same age Kurt Cobain was when he died, and next year I’ll be older than he’ll ever be. Just a thought.)

Here’s what you miss if you’re unkind or non-kind: people opening up to you in private.

A lot of the most interesting information in the world is locked up inside other people’s heads.

If you care about having an interesting life, you have to care about winning over other people – so that you can access that information. If you really want to be smart, you’re going to have to tap into people’s perspectives, insights, questions and so on. You can’t learn it all from books and essays – because there’s a lot of “living knowledge” that never makes it into those things.

People only started opening up to me in private in the last 3-5 years or so, and it’s completely changed my life. I mean, I did have conversations with a handful of close-ish friends a decade ago, but now I have people actively coming to me and telling me things that they wouldn’t dare say publicly. And that’s some very powerful, very interesting stuff. It’s great at many levels. And it’s a very beautiful feeling to be that person that earns other people’s trust.

Just to wrap up – it’s possible to be both smart and kind, obviously. That’s the end goal. Being smart doesn’t mean you’re going to be kind, not-kind or unkind. Being kind doesn’t mean you’re going to be smart, not-smart or stupid.

What I’m saying is – there’s definitely a subset of smart people (and people who aspire to smartness) who think that being kind is unnecessary, or tedious, or for pussies, and so on. And I think that’s extremely unfortunate. Your intelligence gets enriched by kindness. That’s the case I’m making here."
visakanveerasamy  smartness  kindness  directives  intelligence  interestedness  listening  kurtcobain  learning  howwelearn  canon  winning  competition  spectators  action  activism  theory  richardfeynman  knowitalls  social  relationships  grace  reality  argument  2017 
29 days ago by robertogreco
'You did not act in time': Greta Thunberg's full speech to MPs | Environment | The Guardian
"My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to. People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing.

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more.

Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.

You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.

Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?

Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, these calculations do not include unforeseen tipping points and feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing arctic permafrost.

Nor do these scientific calculations include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Nor the aspect of equity – or climate justice – clearly stated throughout the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale.

We must also bear in mind that these are just calculations. Estimations. That means that these “points of no return” may occur a bit sooner or later than 2030. No one can know for sure. We can, however, be certain that they will occur approximately in these timeframes, because these calculations are not opinions or wild guesses.

These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC.

Did you hear what I just said? Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.

During the last six months I have travelled around Europe for hundreds of hours in trains, electric cars and buses, repeating these life-changing words over and over again. But no one seems to be talking about it, and nothing has changed. In fact, the emissions are still rising.

When I have been travelling around to speak in different countries, I am always offered help to write about the specific climate policies in specific countries. But that is not really necessary. Because the basic problem is the same everywhere. And the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.

The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.

Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester.

And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.

But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics.

The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual. The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd.

This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind.

People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.

Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.

Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?

The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.

“So, exactly how do we solve that?” you ask us – the schoolchildren striking for the climate.

And we say: “No one knows for sure. But we have to stop burning fossil fuels and restore nature and many other things that we may not have quite figured out yet.”

Then you say: “That’s not an answer!”

So we say: “We have to start treating the crisis like a crisis – and act even if we don’t have all the solutions.”

“That’s still not an answer,” you say.

Then we start talking about circular economy and rewilding nature and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about.

We say that all those solutions needed are not known to anyone and therefore we must unite behind the science and find them together along the way. But you do not listen to that. Because those answers are for solving a crisis that most of you don’t even fully understand. Or don’t want to understand.

You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time.

Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.

Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.

We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do.

We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.

I hope my microphone was on. I hope you could all hear me… [more]
gretathunberg  2019  sustainability  environment  climate  children  activism  futureyouuth  climatechange  globalwarming  science  policy  politics  action  inaction  avoidance 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Uncanny Power of Greta Thunberg’s Climate-Change Rhetoric | The New Yorker
"During the week of Easter, Britain enjoyed—if that is the right word—a break from the intricate torment of Brexit. The country’s politicians disappeared on vacation and, in their absence, genuine public problems, the kinds of things that should be occupying their attention, rushed into view. In Northern Ireland, where political violence is worsening sharply, a twenty-nine-year-old journalist and L.G.B.T. campaigner named Lyra McKee was shot and killed while reporting on a riot in Londonderry. In London, thousands of climate-change protesters blocked Waterloo Bridge, over the River Thames, and Oxford Circus, in the West End, affixing themselves to the undersides of trucks and to a pink boat named for Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist and indigenous leader, who was murdered in Honduras. Slightly more than a thousand Extinction Rebellion activists, between the ages of nineteen and seventy-four, were arrested in eight days. On Easter Monday, a crowd performed a mass die-in at the Natural History Museum, under the skeleton of a blue whale. In a country whose politics have been entirely consumed by the maddening minutiae of leaving the European Union, it was cathartic to see citizens demanding action for a greater cause. In a video message, Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, compared the civil disobedience in London to the civil-rights movement of the sixties and the suffragettes of a century ago. “It is not the first time in history we have seen angry people take to the streets when the injustice has been great enough,” she said.

On Tuesday, as members of Parliament returned to work, Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist, was in Westminster to address them. Last August, Thunberg stopped attending school in Stockholm and began a protest outside the Swedish Parliament to draw political attention to climate change. Since then, Thunberg’s tactic of going on strike from school—inspired by the response to the Parkland shooting in Florida last year—has been taken up by children in a hundred countries around the world. In deference to her international celebrity, Thunberg was given a nauseatingly polite welcome in England. John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, briefly held up proceedings to mark her arrival in the viewing gallery. Some M.P.s applauded, breaching the custom of not clapping in the chamber. When Thunberg spoke to a meeting of some hundred and fifty journalists, activists, and political staffers, in Portcullis House, where M.P.s have their offices, she was flanked by Ed Miliband, the former Labour Party leader; Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary and a prominent Brexiteer; and Caroline Lucas, Britain’s sole Green Party M.P., who had invited her.

Thunberg, who wore purple jeans, blue sneakers, and a pale plaid shirt, did not seem remotely fazed. Carefully unsmiling, she checked that her microphone was on. “Can you hear me?” she asked. “Around the year 2030, ten years, two hundred and fifty-two days, and ten hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.”

Thunberg—along with her younger sister—has been given a diagnosis of autism and A.D.H.D. In interviews, she sometimes ascribes her unusual focus, and her absolute intolerance of adult bullshit on the subject of climate change, to her neurological condition. “I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,” she told my colleague Masha Gessen. In 2015, the year Thunberg turned twelve, she gave up flying. She travelled to London by train, which took two days. Her voice, which is young and Scandinavian, has a discordant, analytical clarity. Since 2006, when David Cameron, as a reforming Conservative Party-leadership contender, visited the Arctic Circle, Britain’s political establishment has congratulated itself on its commitment to combatting climate change. Thunberg challenged this record, pointing out that, while the United Kingdom’s carbon-dioxide emissions have fallen by thirty-seven per cent since 1990, this figure does not include the effects of aviation, shipping, or trade. “If these numbers are included, the reduction is around ten per cent since 1990—or an average of 0.4 per cent a year,” she said. She described Britain’s eagerness to frack for shale gas, to expand its airports, and to search for dwindling oil and gas reserves in the North Sea as absurd. “You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before,” she said. “Like now. And those answers don’t exist anymore. Because you did not act in time.”

The climate-change movement feels powerful today because it is politicians—not the people gluing themselves to trucks—who seem deluded about reality. Thunberg says that all she wants is for adults to behave like adults, and to act on the terrifying information that is all around us. But the impact of her message does not come only from her regard for the facts. Thunberg is an uncanny, gifted orator. Last week, the day after the fire at Notre-Dame, she told the European Parliament that “cathedral thinking” would be necessary to confront climate change.

Yesterday, Thunberg repeated the phrase. “Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking,” she said. “We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.” In Westminster, Thunberg’s words were shaming. Brexit is pretty much the opposite of cathedral thinking. It is a process in which a formerly great country is tearing itself apart over the best way to belittle itself. No one knew what to say to Thunberg, or how to respond to her exhortations. Her microphone check was another rhetorical device. “Did you hear what I just said?” she asked, in the middle of her speech. The room bellowed, “Yes!” “Is my English O.K.?” The audience laughed. Thunberg’s face flickered, but she did not smile. “Because I’m beginning to wonder.”"
gretathunberg  2019  rhetoric  climatechange  sustainability  globalwarming  activism  samknight  autism  aspergers  adhd  attention  focus  emissions  action  teens  youth  brexit 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem | Literary Hub
"Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. “Unhappy the land that needs heroes” is a line of Bertold Brecht’s I’ve gone to dozens of times, but now I’m more inclined to think, pity the land that thinks it needs a hero, or doesn’t know it has lots and what they look like."



"William James said of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, “Surely the cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their character of loneliness.” That is, if I lose my home, I’m cast out among those who remain comfortable, but if we all lose our homes in the earthquake, we’re in this together. One of my favorite sentences from a 1906 survivor is this: “Then when the dynamite explosions were making the night noisy and keeping everybody awake and anxious, the girls or some of the refugees would start playing the piano, and Billy Delaney and other folks would start singing; so that the place became quite homey and sociable, considering it was on the sidewalk, outside the high school, and the town all around it was on fire.”

I don’t know what Billy Delaney or the girls sang, or what stories the oat gatherers Le Guin writes about might have told. But I do have a metaphor, which is itself a kind of carrier bag and metaphor literally means to carry something beyond, carrying being the basic thing language does, language being great nets we weave to hold meaning. Jonathan Jones, an indigenous Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi Australian artist, has an installation—a great infinity-loop figure eight of feathered objects on a curving wall in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane that mimics a murmuration, one of those great flocks of birds in flight that seems to swell and contract and shift as the myriad individual creatures climb and bank and turn together, not crashing into each other, not drifting apart.

From a distance Jones’s objects look like birds; up close they are traditional tools of stick and stone with feathers attached, tools of making taking flight. The feathers were given to him by hundreds who responded to the call he put out, a murmuration of gatherers. “I’m interested in this idea of collective thinking,” he told a journalist. “How the formation of really beautiful patterns and arrangements in the sky can help us potentially start to understand how we exist in this country, how we operate together, how we can all call ourselves Australians. That we all have our own little ideas which can somehow come together to make something bigger.”

What are human murmurations, I wondered? They are, speaking of choruses, in Horton Hears a Who, the tiny Whos of Whoville, who find that if every last one of them raises their voice, they become loud enough to save their home. They are a million and a half young people across the globe on March 15 protesting climate change, coalitions led by Native people holding back fossil fuel pipelines across Canada, the lawyers and others who converged on airports all over the US on January 29, 2017, to protest the Muslim ban.

They are the hundreds who turned out in Victoria, BC, to protect a mosque there during Friday prayers the week after the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. My cousin Jessica was one of them, and she wrote about how deeply moving it was for her, “At the end, when prayers were over, and the mosque was emptying onto the street, if felt like a wedding, a celebration of love and joy. We all shook hands and hugged and spoke kindly to each other—Muslim, Jew, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist…” We don’t have enough art to make us see and prize these human murmurations even when they are all around us, even when they are doing the most important work on earth."
rebeccasolnit  heroes  change  democracy  collectivism  multitudes  2019  robertmueller  gretathunberg  society  movements  murmurations  relationships  connection  femininity  masculinity  leadership  patience  negotiation  listening  strategy  planning  storytelling  bertoldbrecht  violence  attention  ursulaleguin  williamjames  1906  sanfrancisco  loneliness  comfort  billdelaney  jonathanjones  art  humans  humanism  scale  activism  action 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Rebel Alliance: Extinction Rebellion and a Green New Deal - YouTube
"Extinction Rebellion and AOC’s Green New Deal have made global headlines. Can their aims be aligned to prevent climate catastrophe?

Guest host Aaron Bastani will be joined by journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot and economist Ann Pettifor."
extinctionrebellion  georgemonbiot  gdp  economics  capitalism  growth  worldbank  2019  greennewdeal  humanwelfare  fossilfuels  aaronbastani  climate  climatechange  globalwarming  mainstreammedia  media  action  bbc  critique  politics  policy  currentaffairs  comedy  environment  environmentalism  journalism  change  systemschange  left  right  thinktanks  power  influence  libertarianism  taxation  taxes  ideology  gretathunberg  protest  davidattenborough  statusquo  consumerism  consumption  wants  needs  autonomy  education  health  donaldtrump  nancypelosi  us  southafrica  sovietunion  democrats  centrism  republicans  money  narrative  corruption  diannefeinstein  opposition  oppositionism  emissions  socialdemocracy  greatrecession  elitism  debt  financialcrisis  collapse  annpettifor  socialism  globalization  agriculture  local  production  nationalism  self-sufficiency  inertia  despair  doom  optimism  inequality  exploitation  imperialism  colonialism  history  costarica  uk  nihilism  china  apathy  inaction 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | Beyond Hope
"THE MOST COMMON WORDS I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re fucked. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have — or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective — to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree.

Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We’re losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don’t care.

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ’50s and ’60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

But it isn’t only false hopes that keep those who go along enchained. It is hope itself. Hope, we are told, is our beacon in the dark. It is our light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the beam of light that makes its way into our prison cells. It is our reason for persevering, our protection against despair (which must be avoided at all costs). How can we continue if we do not have hope?

We’ve all been taught that hope in some future condition — like hope in some future heaven — is and must be our refuge in current sorrow. I’m sure you remember the story of Pandora. She was given a tightly sealed box and was told never to open it. But, being curious, she did, and out flew plagues, sorrow, and mischief, probably not in that order. Too late she clamped down the lid. Only one thing remained in the box: hope. Hope, the story goes, was the only good the casket held among many evils, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune. No mention here of action being a comfort in misfortune, or of actually doing something to alleviate or eliminate one’s misfortune.

The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line.

Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is.

More or less all of us yammer on more or less endlessly about hope. You wouldn’t believe — or maybe you would — how many magazine editors have asked me to write about the apocalypse, then enjoined me to leave readers with a sense of hope. But what, precisely, is hope? At a talk I gave last spring, someone asked me to define it. I turned the question back on the audience, and here’s the definition we all came up with: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.

I’m not, for example, going to say I hope I eat something tomorrow. I just will. I don’t hope I take another breath right now, nor that I finish writing this sentence. I just do them. On the other hand, I do hope that the next time I get on a plane, it doesn’t crash. To hope for some result means you have given up any agency concerning it. Many people say they hope the dominant culture stops destroying the world. By saying that, they’ve assumed that the destruction will continue, at least in the short term, and they’ve stepped away from their own ability to participate in stopping it.

I do not hope coho salmon survive. I will do whatever it takes to make sure the dominant culture doesn’t drive them extinct. If coho want to leave us because they don’t like how they’re being treated — and who could blame them? — I will say goodbye, and I will miss them, but if they do not want to leave, I will not allow civilization to kill them off.

When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to “hope” at all. We simply do the work. We make sure salmon survive. We make sure prairie dogs survive. We make sure grizzlies survive. We do whatever it takes.

When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free — truly free — to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins.

PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK ME, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good.

Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.

Another question people sometimes ask me is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just party?” Well, the first answer is that I don’t really like to party. The second is that I’m already having a great deal of fun. I love my life. I love life. This is true for most activists I know. We are doing what we love, fighting for what (and whom) we love.

I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I’ve learned that if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify inaction — the use of any excuse to justify inaction — reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.

At one of my recent talks someone stood up during the Q and A and announced that the only reason people ever become activists is to feel better about themselves. Effectiveness really doesn’t matter, he said, and it’s egotistical to think it does.

I told him I disagreed.

Doesn’t activism make you feel good? he asked.

Of course, I said, but that’s not why I do it. If I only want to feel good, I can just masturbate. But I want to accomplish something in the real world.

Why?

Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t determine whether or not you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love.

A WONDERFUL THING happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems — you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself — and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.

When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they — those in power — cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell — you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who … [more]
derrickjensen  activism  crisis  fear  hope  nihilism  love  vulnerability  survival  monsanto  weyerhaeuser  johnosborn  humans  life  living  presence  present  hereandnow  action  agency  emotions  rage  sorrow  joy  despair  happiness  satisfaction  dissatisfaction  feelings  exploitation  mortality  death  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Gnamma #5 - Some Lessons from Learning Gardens
"The Learning Gardens [http://learning-gardens.co/ ] Slack, which has been, emergently, the "home" of the initiative, is shutting down in two months. This is a decision by me, Éd, and Morgane to encourage decentralization and distributed ownership of the idea. You could see whiffs of this coming in my earlier newsletter [https://tinyletter.com/gnamma/letters/gnamma-2-to-grow-a-garden ].

The goal returns to the kernel of the initiative in the first place: encouraging people to make spaces to take on [learning] initiatives they believe in. A Slack may re-emerge, things may decentralize, circle around tools like Are.na and Twitter and Discord, one-off forums, group texts, email newsletters, IRL groups and meeting spaces. Or perhaps the whole thing will fizzle for a while until some future moment. We, the janitors, generally tried to keep our moderation and assertiveness minimal, but this represents a strong-armed push to catalyze something new.

With this change forthcoming, I'm asking myself, what have we learned over 2.5 years of Learning Gardens as a public concept?

If someone came to me today saying, "I want to start a group of people to study X together!" some of my first questions would be: Is X well-defined enough to rally a group behind it? If X is vague, is the group well-defined enough to organize? Do you have the bandwidth to deal with not only organizing "content" for the group, but also managing a social landscape or making the conditions such that it can self-manage?

Let me clarify: X here doesn't need to be a "topic." It can also be a "mode of organizing." The medium can be the message, here, and a lot of the value in Learning Gardens has been in bearing witness to a variety of organizational schemes. (But I do recommend either a well-defined topic, well-defined group of people, or well-defined structure!)

This comes as NO surprise to anyone who has run groups or shared spaces: good management takes a lot of energy. It takes either a lot of active management & conversation, or a lot of lead time to build a substrate of mutual trust such that self-management works. To keep people aligned in logistics, to keep momentum, to upkeep a value set that people connect with, to generate ideas of where to go next. If your group is one organized around discrete "events" (in-person meet-ups, skype-in conversations, workshops, publications, etc), it's important to remember that the bulk of the work happens around these things, too: in the preparation and post-facto follow-up. You, organizing, should prepare for this and think of it as a way to invite others to participate (rather than feeling like you need to take on the "extra-curricular" work by yourself).

Redundancy in information-sharing is necessary. I've learned this lesson repeatedly, given a general desire to be a bit terse in what I put up online. Oversharing is necessary to get the point across, to get people to see it twice, to get them to come back.

Online, even in a semi-closed gardens of the sort that Slack groups emerged to be, the line between "being there" and "not" is thin. We have a term for riding this line: "lurking." Lurking in its internet-native form can be quite positive. (If you "lurk" in real life spaces, you're creepy.) It allows for exploratory observations of new interests, for following along without the commitment of joining the room, for feeling a connection even when formal participation might be difficult or contentious.

Learning Gardens is about learning, however, and one thing I strongly believe is that you do not learn passively. I don't want LG to be a loose social space: there is enough of that already. I want LG to be about communities formed through action. Latent in my thoughts around the decision to retire the Slack is the desire to see people turn a lurking tendency into an organizing (or participating) one. Trust is necessary for the vulnerability and confidence that breeds effective learning experiences, and trust is easiest to build when you know who else is in the room.

Thanks to everyone who has made the Slack interesting and dynamic over these years. I am looking forward to what is next! Please drop me a line if you are in the Bay Area."
lukaswinklerprins  2019  learning  unschooling  deschooling  learninggardens  gardens  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  mutualaid  trust  community  howwelearn  redundancy  momentum  slack  social  action  sharing  éduordurcades  morganesantos 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Greta Thunberg full speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference - YouTube
[See also:
https://grist.org/article/call-the-cops-this-swedish-teenager-just-wrecked-u-n-climate-negotiators/
https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/16/world/greta-thunberg-cop24/index.html ]

"15 year old activist Greta Thunberg speaks truth to power at the UN COP24 climate talks:

"My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn't matter what we do.

But I've learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn't do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you.""
gretathunberg  climatechange  2018  sustainability  youth  sweden  change  globalarming  activism  civilization  crisis  flight  action  money  corruption  anthropocene  goodancestors  resistance  science  climatescience  hope 
december 2018 by robertogreco
School strike for climate - save the world by changing the rules | Greta Thunberg | TEDxStockholm - YouTube
"Greta Thunberg realized at a young age the lapse in what several climate experts were saying and in the actions that were being taken in society. The difference was so drastic in her opinion that she decided to take matters into her own hands. Greta is a 15-year-old Stockholm native who lives at home with her parents and sister Beata. She’s a 9th grader in Stockholm who enjoys spending her spare time riding Icelandic horses, spending time with her families two dogs, Moses and Roxy. She love animals and has a passion for books and science. At a young age, she became interested in the environment and convinced her family to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community."
gretathunberg  climatechange  2018  sustainability  youth  autism  aspergers  sweden  change  globalarming  activism  extinction  massextinction  equity  climatejustice  inequality  infrastructure  interconnected  crisis  flight  action  money  corruption  anthropocene  goodancestors  resistance  science  climatescience  hope 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Dr. Michelle Fine on Willful Subjectivity and Strong Objectivity in Education Research - Long View on Education
"In this interview, Dr. Michelle Fine makes the argument for participatory action research as a sophisticated epistemology. Her work uncovers the willful subjectivity and radical wit of youth. In the last ten minutes, she gives some concrete recommendations for setting up a classroom that recognizes and values the gifts that students bring. Please check out her publications on ResearchGate [https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michelle_Fine ] and her latest book Just Research in Contentious Times (Teachers College, 2018). [https://www.amazon.com/Just-Research-Contentious-Times-Methodological/dp/0807758736/ ]

Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, Women’s Studies, American Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center CUNY.

Thank you to Dr. Kim Case and Professor Tanya L. Domi."
michellefine  reasearch  dispossession  privilege  resistance  solidarity  participatory  participatoryactionresearch  ethnography  education  benjamindoxtdatorcritical  pedagogy  race  racism  postcolonialism  criticaltheory  imf  epistemology  research  focusgroups  subjectivity  youth  teens  stories  socialjustice  criticalparticipatoryactionresearch  sexuality  centering  oppression  pointofview  action  quantitative  qualitative  injustice  gender  deficit  resilience  experience  radicalism  incarceration  billclinton  pellgrants  willfulsubjectivity  survivance  wit  radicalwit  indigeneity  queer  justice  inquiry  hannaharendt  criticalbifocality  psychology  context  history  structures  gigeconomy  progressive  grit  economics  victimblaming  schools  intersectionality  apolitical  neoliberalism  neutrality  curriculum  objectivity  contestedhistories  whiteprivilege  whitefragility  islamophobia  discrimination  alienation  conversation  disengagement  defensiveness  anger  hatred  complexity  diversity  self-definition  ethnicity 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Ask Umbra’s 21-Day Apathy Detox | Grist
"Does this sound like anyone you know? “Dear Umbra: Since November — and really, for as long as I’ve known about the threat of climate change — I’ve been plagued by this sense of hopelessness and foreboding, and I just can’t shake it. I’ve tried it all: Late-night Facebook fights, splurging on fancy salads, retreats in the woods where I scream at a tree. Now I’m just parked on the couch watching Sex and the City reruns. Can I learn to hope again?” Well, you’ve found the right advice columnist. I’m here to quietly change your Facebook password and not-so-quietly offer the best tools, tricks, and advice to help you fight for a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck. You’ll build civic muscles, find support buddies, and better your community!

DAY 1: Make a plan
DAY 2: Meet your neighbors
DAY 3: Social media makeover
DAY 4: Support local news
DAY 5: Read up on justice
DAY 6: Protest like a pro
DAY 7: Give green
DAY 8: Ditch the excuses
DAY 9: Green your power sources
DAY 10: Fight city hall
DAY 11: Get offline
DAY 12: Drop dirty money
DAY 13: School food fight!
DAY 14: Vote local
DAY 15: Attack your meat habit
DAY 16: Bug your elected rep
DAY 17: Buy less
DAY 18: Push for affordable housing
DAY 19: Talk climate at the bar
DAY 20: Support the arts
DAY 21: Run for office"

[via: https://go.grist.org/webmail/399522/223022613/dcfc605c05717cdbc5988a2c4d1a5fd7309a781b8364159d968011b54bd8b93b]

[See also (from the same newsletter):

https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator
https://grist.org/briefly/groundbreaking-study-outlines-what-you-can-do-about-climate-change/
https://slate.com/technology/2014/10/plane-carbon-footprint-i-went-a-year-without-flying-to-fight-climate-change.html
https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
https://grist.org/article/scientists-calmly-explain-that-civilization-is-at-stake-if-we-dont-act-now/ ]
climtechange  action  apathy  2018  sustainability  change  globalwarming  flights  transportation  food  energy  electricity  power  consumption  conssumrism  politics  activism  housing  justice  climatejustice  socialmedia  protest 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Reducing your carbon footprint still matters.
"Recent articles in Vox, the Guardian, and the Outline have warned that individuals “going green” in daily life won’t make enough of a difference to be worth the effort. In fact, they argue, such efforts could actually make matters worse, as focusing on individual actions might distract people from pressuring corporations and government officials to lower greenhouse gas emissions and enact the broader policy change we need to meet our climate goals. These articles and others like them (including in Slate) tend to conclude that the only truly meaningful action people can take to influence our climate future is to vote.

Voting is crucial, but this perspective misses a large point of individual actions. We don’t recommend taking personal actions like limiting plane rides, eating less meat, or investing in solar energy because all of these small tweaks will build up to enough carbon savings (though it could help). We do so because people taking action in their personal lives is actually one of the best ways to get to a society that implements the policy-level change that is truly needed. Research on social behavior suggests lifestyle change can build momentum for systemic change. Humans are social animals, and we use social cues to recognize emergencies. People don’t spring into action just because they see smoke; they spring into action because they see others rushing in with water. The same principle applies to personal actions on climate change.

Psychologists Bibb Latane and John Darley tested this exact scenario in a now-classic study. Participants filled out a survey in a quiet room, which suddenly began to fill with smoke (from a vent set up by the experimenters). When alone, participants left the room and reported the apparent fire. But in the presence of others who ignored the smoke, participants carried on as though nothing were wrong."



"There are plenty of things to do about climate change beyond voting. Take a train or bus instead of a plane, even if inconvenient—in fact, especially when inconvenient. Take a digital meeting instead of an in-person one, even if you give up expensed travel. Go to a protest, invest in noncarbon energy, buy solar panels, eat at meatless restaurants, canvass for climate-conscious candidates. Do whichever of these you can, as conspicuously as you can. With each step, you communicate an emergency that needs all hands on deck. Individual action—across supermarkets, skies, roads, homes, workplaces, and ballot boxes—sounds an alarm that might just wake us from our collective slumber and build a foundation for the necessary political change."
leorhackel  greggsparkman  climatechange  2018  politics  social  humans  globalwarming  bibblatane  johndarley  psychology  action  activism  environment  sustainability 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Julie Goldberg on Twitter: "The people I know who are the most miserable about politics right now are doing all their politics online. The people I know who are the least discouraged about politics are doing most of their politics in three dimensions. Get
"The people I know who are the most miserable about politics right now are doing all their politics online. The people I know who are the least discouraged about politics are doing most of their politics in three dimensions.
Get involved. You'll never regret it!

Isolation + constantly aggravated frustration = despair.
Community + working for change = hope.
Social media corporations make more money when we sit alone, argue with strangers, yell at the TV, and despair."
juliegoldeberg  politics  activism  isolation  frustration  despair  socialimedia  online  internet  web  twitter  facebook  action  discouragement  2018 
august 2018 by robertogreco
The Convivial Society, No. 5: Action
"In any case, we occupy a perplexing place, it seems to me, given the nature of the world constituted by digital media. By "world" I mean something like the interpretation of reality that we inhabit. It is within these worlds that our action derives motive force and intelligibility. Human beings have always shared the same earth, but we have lived in very different worlds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arendt, however, was also the theorist of new beginnings, of natality, and with this I will bring these comments to a close: “But there remains also the truth that every end in history also contains a new beginning; this beginning is the promise, the only ‘message’ which the end can ever produce. Beginning, before it becomes a historical event, is the supreme capacity of man; politically, it is identical with man’s freedom. Initium ut esset homo creatus est– 'that a beginning be made man was created' said Augustine. This beginning is guaranteed by each new birth; it is indeed every man.”"
conviviality  lmsacasas  2018  tools  toolsforconvivilaity  zoominginandout  morality  purpose  reality  understanding  violence  digital  socialmedia  kierkegaard  apathy  hubertdreyfus  hannharendt  action  intgrity  self-consciousness  michaelsacasas 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Why Nouns Slow Us Down, and Why Linguistics Might Be in a Bubble | The New Yorker
"Writers and language geeks inherit a ranking system of sorts: verbs good, adjectives bad, nouns sadly unavoidable. Verbs are action, verve! “I ate the day / Deliberately, that its tang / Might quicken me into verb, pure verb,” Seamus Heaney writes, in “Oysters.” A sentence can be a sentence without nouns or adjectives, but never without a verb. For the most part.

But nouns deserve more cognitive credit. A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that nouns actually take longer to spit out than verbs do, presumably because they require more thought to produce. In the study, researchers led by Frank Seifart, a linguist at the University of Amsterdam, and Balthasar Bickel, of the University of Zurich, analyzed hundreds of recordings of spontaneous speech from nine very different languages from around the world: English and Dutch, as well as several others from as far afield as Amazonia, Siberia, the Kalahari, and Tibet. They picked out and compared the spoken renditions of the nouns and verbs, focussing not on how long it took for each word to be spoken but on what was happening in the half-second preceding each word. That tiny window is informative: cognitive scientists have concluded that it takes the brain about that long to formulate its next word, which happens even as a current word or phrase is being spoken.

Which is to say, the future word casts a shadow over the present one. And that shadow is measurable: the researchers found that, in all nine languages, the speech immediately preceding a noun is three-and-a-half-per-cent slower than the speech preceding a verb. And in eight of nine languages, the speaker was about twice as likely to introduce a pause before a noun than before a verb—either a brief silence or a filler, such as “uh” or “um” or their non-English equivalents. That future word, when it’s a noun, is more of a footfall than a shadow, creating a hole in the phrase right before it.

Seifart and Bickel think that this has to do with the different roles that nouns and verbs play in language. Nouns require more planning to say because they more often convey novel information, Seifart told me—that’s one reason why we quickly transition from nouns to pronouns when speaking. Listeners are sensitive to those tiny pauses before a noun, and interpret them as indicating that what follows will be something new or important.

Unlike nouns and pronouns, verbs don’t have “proverbs” to pick up the pace, although we cheat a little with sentences such as, “Susan drank wine and Mary did, too.” Verbs are grammatically more complex than nouns but have less to reveal. When you’re about to say a verb, you’re less likely to be saying something new, so your brain doesn’t have to slow down what it’s already doing to plan for it.

Oddly enough, the one language that doesn’t seem to pre-think its nouns as thoroughly as its verbs is English, Seifart and Bickel found. Although English speakers do slow down their speech immediately before a noun, they use fewer pauses beforehand, not more, when compared to verbs.

“English is peculiar,” Seifart said. English is less useful than we might imagine for understanding what our speech has to say about how we think: “It can never be representative of human language in general,” he said. “To make claims about human language in general, we need to look at much broader array of them.”

In recent years, scientists have grown concerned that much of the literature on human psychology and behavior is derived from studies carried out in Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic countries. These results aren’t necessarily indicative of how humans as a whole actually function. Linguistics may face a similar challenge—the science is in a bubble, talking to itself. “This is what makes people like me realize the unique value of small, often endangered languages and documenting them for as long as they can still be observed,” Seifart said. “In a few generations, they will not be spoken anymore.” In the years to come, as society grows more complex, the number of nouns available to us may grow exponentially. The diversity of its speakers, not so much."
language  languages  weird  nouns  verbs  communication  linguistics  2018  alanburdick  action  frankseifart  balthasarbickel  future  present  speed  speaking  english 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Verso: Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, by Byung-Chul Han
"Exploring how neoliberalism has discovered the productive force of the psyche

Byung-Chul Han, a star of German philosophy, continues his passionate critique of neoliberalism, trenchantly describing a regime of technological domination that, in contrast to Foucault’s biopower, has discovered the productive force of the psyche. In the course of discussing all the facets of neoliberal psychopolitics fueling our contemporary crisis of freedom, Han elaborates an analytical framework that provides an original theory of Big Data and a lucid phenomenology of emotion. But this provocative essay proposes counter models too, presenting a wealth of ideas and surprising alternatives at every turn.

Reviews

“How do we say we? It seems important. How do we imagine collective action, in other words, how do we imagine acting on a scale sufficient to change the social order? How seriously can or should one take the idea of freedom in the era of Big Data? There seems to be something drastically wrong with common ideas about what the word act means. Psychopolitics is a beautifully sculpted attempt to figure out how to mean action differently, in an age where humans are encouraged to believe that it's possible and necessary to see everything.” – Timothy Morton

“A combination of neoliberal ethics and ubiquitous data capture has brought about a fundamental transformation and expansion of capitalist power, beyond even the fears of the Frankfurt School. In this blistering critique, Byung-Chul Han shows how capitalism has now finally broken free of liberalism, shrinking the spaces of individuality and autonomy yet further. At the same time, Psychopolitics demonstrates how critical theory can and must be rejuvenated for the age of big data.” – Will Davies

“The new star of German philosophy.” – El País

“What is new about new media? These are philosophical questions for Byung-Chul Han, and precisely here lies the appeal of his essays.” – Die Welt

“In Psychopolitics, critique of the media and of capitalism fuse into the coherent picture of a society that has been both blinded and paralyzed by alien forces. Confident and compelling.” – Spiegel Online"
books  toread  neoliberalism  technology  labor  work  latecapitalism  capitalism  postcapitalism  byung-chulhan  psychology  philosophy  liberalism  individuality  autonomy  willdavies  timothymorton  society  culture  action 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Adventures in lifelong learning: Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum
"Yesterday's Warsaw demonstrations were shocking in their scale (60,000 nationalists marched on Poland's independence day; many calling for 'a white Europe of brotherly nations'), but were also disturbing in the way that, whilst confronted with new displays of far-right extremism almost daily - we just don't seem shocked enough. Fascism is like that, of course. It is out-there in the Charlottesville marches, echoed in the words of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, yet it is also insidious. It creeps into lives - and becomes normalised in our language and behaviours. As Umberto Eco wrote in 'Ur-Fascism' (1995, p.8), 'Fascism..can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world.'

The warning signs

I won't use this blog to attempt to summarise important political discussions or try to analyse fascism in any detail; I am not a historian. But given the international rise of the far-right I believe that, as educators, we have a duty to be sensitive to these shifts and as a result should be reshaping our curricula and pedagogy to take account of it.

According to Merriam Webster, fascism is 'a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition'. Eco suggests a list of features that are typical of what he calls Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. As he states, 'These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it'. The first principle, that fascism derives from individual or social frustration, is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. Four other key features are:

1. The cult of tradition. The desire to return to a better age, and a fear of modernism: 'Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message'. (It should be noted that the first thing that fascist states seize is the curriculum).

2. Irrationalism, and the promotion of action over thought. 'Distrust of the intellectual world'.

3. Fear of difference (fascism is racist by definition). 'The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.'

4. The fostering of a spirit of war, heroism and machismo. 'Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual 8 habits, from chastity to homosexuality).'

An anti-fascist curriculum

I suggest here that an anti-fascist curriculum should take account of warning signs such as Eco's, and should also pay heed to Lawrence Britt's 'Fourteen signs of fascism' which include Cronyism and Corruption, the suppression of organised labour, obsession with national security and identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The word 'curriculum' here refers to more than just the syllabus; it incorporates all influences on a child (or adult's) education (buildings, pedagogy, classroom management, the implicit and explicit things that are taught). As teachers we often distract ourselves from the bigger picture; arguments about the specifics of practice give a sense that our classrooms operate as micro-entities, where children are unaffected by the social dysfunction surrounding them. Managing behaviour is seen as a battle of 'them versus us,' and the 'othering' of pupils causes us to neglect the development of our own self-awareness. For this reason, such a curriculum can only start with the teacher.

Below are a few ideas for what an anti-fascist curriculum manifesto might practically include. It can only ever be a guideline; wanting it to become policy or enacted in some way defeats the object of a movement that should sit outside the state. Likewise, it should not dictate the behaviour of teachers, only act as a stimulus that has the potential, not to make large-scale change, but to spark a 'line of flight' that disrupts the status quo. If any of the manifesto chimes with you or you want send any thoughts or ideas as I continue to extend it, please do not hesitate to comment or get in touch with me.

Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum - A Manifesto for Educators

1. We start by examining the 'fascist inside us all.'

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” (Foucoult, 1983)

We recognise our own interior desire for power and accept our responsibility as educators to reflect on this with others in spirit of critical challenge. We undertake critically reflective processes that make us question our own assumptions and prejudices, such as tests of cognitive dissonance to expose gender, race, age, disability bias, and intersections of these and other identities. We examine our own values, as individuals and within our organisations and consider the roots of these and their influences on our practice. Our reflective activity extends to our roles as leaders; we aim to continually refine and develop ourselves as human beings, alongside our students.

2. We promote difference over uniformity.

This includes de-centring the Enlightenment idea of the 'perfect human' in order to augment the voices of oppressed 'others'. We celebrate the living knowledge of our students, and examine the genealogy of the subjects we teach to decolonise and diversify our curricula. We make efforts to connect with others globally to inform our practice and maintain perspective. We challenge the threat of toxic masculinity through deliberate educational approaches which liberate men and boys from the need to conform to 'gender-specific' ideals (which further male supremacy). We reflect on our own privilege.

3. We accept complexity and uncertainty.

Whilst welcoming research-informed practice, we reject the fetishisation of science and the search for the 'ultimate truths' of education theory, which can limit educational autonomy.

4. We resist the reduction of 'education' to instrumentalism.

We widen the purpose of education to take into account the socialisation and subjectification of our students (Biesta, 2010). We believe in education as the practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and consider each subject we teach as a potential vehicle to promote agency and social justice.

5. We are pro-social, critical pedagogues.

We use teaching methods that place an emphasis on the building of community, togetherness and belonging, which have a strong critical and reflective focus. Specific teaching innovations may include philosophical inquiry, restorative practice and thinking environments (and would include the implementation of critical digital pedagogies)."
fascism  sfsh  2017  education  uniformity  difference  complexity  cv  uncertainty  instrumentalism  schools  learning  freedom  community  togetherness  belonging  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  bellhoooks  teaching  howweteach  openstudioproject  lcproject  restorativejustice  thinking  socialization  agency  socialjustice  science  scienticsm  autonomy  truth  enlightenment  humansism  othering  others  decolonization  diversity  curriculum  masculinity  gender  race  reflection  disability  power  responsibility  canon  love  exploitation  xenophobia  irrationalism  action  machismo  war  heroism  nationalism  tradition  modernism  cronyism  corruption  classroommanagement  manifesto  foucault  supremacy  patriarchy  privilege  disabilities  michelfoucault 
november 2017 by robertogreco
The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions - IOPscience
"Current anthropogenic climate change is the result of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, which records the aggregation of billions of individual decisions. Here we consider a broad range of individual lifestyle choices and calculate their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries, based on 148 scenarios from 39 sources. We recommend four widely applicable high-impact (i.e. low emissions) actions with the potential to contribute to systemic change and substantially reduce annual personal emissions: having one fewer child (an average for developed countries of 58.6 tonnes CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) emission reductions per year), living car-free (2.4 tCO2e saved per year), avoiding airplane travel (1.6 tCO2e saved per roundtrip transatlantic flight) and eating a plant-based diet (0.8 tCO2e saved per year). These actions have much greater potential to reduce emissions than commonly promoted strategies like comprehensive recycling (four times less effective than a plant-based diet) or changing household lightbulbs (eight times less). Though adolescents poised to establish lifelong patterns are an important target group for promoting high-impact actions, we find that ten high school science textbooks from Canada largely fail to mention these actions (they account for 4% of their recommended actions), instead focusing on incremental changes with much smaller potential emissions reductions. Government resources on climate change from the EU, USA, Canada, and Australia also focus recommendations on lower-impact actions. We conclude that there are opportunities to improve existing educational and communication structures to promote the most effective emission-reduction strategies and close this mitigation gap."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/sciencebyericholthaus/letters/today-in-weather-climate-how-you-can-help-edition-wednesday-july-12th ]
climatechange  action  classideas  research  travel  2017  sethwynes  kimberlynicholas  science  sfsh  climate  sustainability  environment 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Remeasuring Stephen Jay Gould
"At its core, Mismeasure argues that the twentieth century’s IQ tests share a desire to justify race and class hierarchies with the nineteenth century’s more primitive measures of cranial features and theories of criminal physiognomy. In both eras, researchers rationalized the status quo with the premise of immutable, hereditary intelligence and the fallacy of reification, which held that intelligence can be reduced to a single number and those numbers used to rank people on a linear scale."



"At the end of their article, Lewis et al. wrote, “were Gould still alive, we expect he would have mounted a defense of his analysis of Morton.” This is a virtual certainty: Gould openly acknowledged his errors throughout his career and called “factual correction . . . the most sublime event in intellectual life.” Gould cannot defend himself, but, since Lewis et al. can, it’s curious that they have not responded to more recent peer-reviewed studies that refute key aspects of their work."



"Gould wrote his 1989 book, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, in large part to counteract the bias toward experimental science. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia includes the greatest repository of fossils from the Cambrian explosion, the dawn of multicellular life. As Gould’s book notes, scientists working with these fossils radically changed paleontology’s core concepts. Contrary to earlier studies, many of the shale’s fossils do not have known ancestors. This means that life was, in crucial ways, more diverse at the outset of the multicellular period than since. Current species evolved from only a few “lucky” surviving lineages.

Because the work involved “mere” description and no experimental work, the new interpretations did not make headlines. Gould contrasts this with the other great paleontological development of the late twentieth century, the “Alvarez hypothesis,” which holds that dinosaur extinction resulted from extraterrestrial impact.
The impact theory has everything for public acclaim — white coats, numbers, [Alvarez’s] Nobel renown and location at the top of the ladder of status. The Burgess redescriptions, on the other hand, struck many observers as one funny thing after another — just descriptions of some previously unappreciated, odd animals from early in life’s history.


Both discoveries told the same compelling story; both “illustrat[ed] . . . the extreme chanciness and contingency of life’s history,” yet only the “Alvarez hypothesis” made the cover of Time magazine.

The same privileging of “hard” science explains why media outlets picked up the attack on Gould’s analysis but not his subsequent vindication. These reports all emphasized that Lewis et al. had literally remeasured hundreds of skulls in the Morton collection (presumably while wearing white lab coats). As one more recent critique noted, however, “from the standpoint of evaluating Gould’s published claims, the re-measurement was completely pointless.” “Gould never claimed that Morton’s [later] shot-based measurements, which is what Lewis et al. compared their new measurements to, were unreliable.” Confirming their bias toward experimental methods, “Lewis et al. are . . . falsifying (their word) a claim Gould never made.” Such a glaring conceptual problem should prompt us, as it would have prompted Gould, to inquire into this supposed controversy’s historical context."



"In Wonderful Life, Gould argued that the evolution of intelligent life represents such a unique and improbable outcome, that, if you started life over at the beginning of the Cambrian explosion, different early organisms would have survived the period’s decimation, and we would never have existed at all:
Homo sapiens, I fear, is a “thing so small” in a vast universe, a wildly improbable evolutionary event well within the realm of contingency. Make of such a conclusion what you will. Some find it depressing; I have always regarded it as exhilarating, and a source of both freedom and consequent moral responsibility.


Gould’s sense of moral responsibility figures in his column’s other main project — what Marxists would recognize as his critique of ideology and what he called “the social implications of the scientific assault upon pervasive biases of Western thought.”

Gould listed four such biases: “progress, determinism, gradualism, and adaptationism.” They persist because they serve as a great comfort to many. Determinism and adaptationism tell us that we are meant to be here and are well suited for survival; gradualism and progress tell us that change occurs in predictable ways. In short, these biases teach us that everything happens for a reason.

As Gould pointed out, even progressive causes like the environmental movement fall prey to these biases’ hubris. Green activists too often assume that the earth is so delicate that we can destroy it and that, therefore, we shoulder the responsibility of saving it. With a New Yorker’s sarcasm, Gould responded, “We should be so powerful!”

He insisted that humans — not the earth — are the ones in danger. But this view does not make climate change any less of a crisis. As he put it:
Our planet is not fragile at its own time scale, and we, pitiful latecomers in the last microsecond of the planetary year are stewards of nothing in the long run. Yet no political movement is more vital and timely than modern environmentalism — because we must save ourselves (and our neighbor species) from our own immediate folly.


With his leftist organizing experience and his awareness of the consequences of human development on our own survival, you might expect that Gould would have devoted numerous columns to the ecological crisis. But he waited, he explained, until he could contribute something more than a repetition of “the shibboleths of the movement.”

In his essay on the extinction of the land snail Partula on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, Gould argued that we should grieve for the scientist Henry Crampton whose lifetime of dedication to studying Partula on a remote island under adverse circumstances was erased by the unintended consequences of introducing predatory creatures into the environment. Though Gould was also an expert on land snails, as he explains it, the point is that we need a humanistic ecology too, “both for the practical reason that people will always touch people more than snails do or can, and for the moral reason that humans are legitimately the measure of all ethical questions — for these are our issues not nature’s.”"



"It is tempting to label these remarks as Pollyannaish, but Gould was not naïve. The philosopher in him spoke of the “Great Asymmetry”: one destructive act can undo years of careful effort, but decent people still vastly outnumber their counterparts. At the same time, the veteran political organizer in Gould knew it would take concerted action. His essay on Papa Joe closes:
We will win now because ordinary humanity holds a triumphant edge in millions of good people over each evil psychopath. But we will only prevail if we can mobilize this latent goodness into permanent vigilance and action.


The call for “permanent vigilance and action” under the rubric of “tough hope” in response to the work of reactionary extremists who reject modernity was Gould’s final theme as a public intellectual. With the Left returning to its duty to organize and remembering its roots in the projects of the Enlightenment and modernity, we must commit ourselves to Gould’s legacy of “tough hope.”"
stephenjaygould  politics  history  2017  jasonlewis  samuelmorton  sociology  learning  certainty  uncertainty  correction  vigilance  action  racism  hope  humanism  sustainability  climatechange  ecosystems  ecology  progress  determinism  gradualism  adaptationism 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A Smuggling Operation: John Berger’s Theory of Art - Los Angeles Review of Books
"EARLY IN HIS CAREER, John Berger’s weekly art criticism for the New Statesman provoked outraged letters and public condemnation. Once, the British Council issued a formal apology to Henry Moore because Berger had suggested his latest work showed a decline. Nor was the hostility limited to such comic passive-aggression. Berger’s politics were deemed so objectionable that his publisher was compelled to withdraw his first novel, A Painter of Our Time (1958), from circulation.

At 90, Berger is harvesting a sudden flowering of praise. It is well deserved. For more than half a century, he has been our greatest art critic — as well as a superior novelist, a poet, and the star and screenwriter of one of the best art documentaries ever made, Ways of Seeing. Most of the writers currently rushing to canonize him, however, avoid dwelling on the heart of Berger’s point of view — his Marxism. No doubt avoiding this disfavored topic makes eulogy easier, but it reminds me of something Berger wrote about Frederick Antal: “the importance of his Marxism tends to be underestimated. In a curious way this is probably done out of respect for him: as though to say ‘He was brilliant despite that — so let’s charitably forget it.’ Yet, in fact, to do this is to deny all that Antal was.” To make such a denial about Berger should no longer be possible after the publication of Landscapes: John Berger on Art.

Landscapes and its companion volume, Portraits: John Berger on Artists (Verso, 2015), are the best summation to date of Berger’s career as a critic. Both volumes were edited by Tom Overton. In Portraits, Overton made selections from decades of essays on the whole historical gamut of art, from the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux to the work of 33-year-old Randa Mdah, and organized them chronologically into a history and appraisal of the art of painting. To read it was to be reminded of Berger’s unique virtues: the clarity of his writing, the historical and technical erudition of his insight, and above all his unique focus on each artist’s way of looking. What Landscapes in turn makes clear, through its assemblage of more programmatic pieces — book reviews, manifestos, autobiography — is that Berger is a rigorous thinker with a theory of art. That theory evolved considerably between the 1950s and the 2010s. Yet two threads hold it together with the tenacity of spider silk: a critique of the political economy of art and a sophisticated account of its human value, each rooted in a committed but elastic Marxism.

A Marxist art criticism of any real subtlety has to be elastic, because it must deal with a problem Marx himself diagnosed but failed to solve. Berger puts it like this:
A question which Marx posed but could not answer: If art in the last analysis is a superstructure of an economic base, why does its power to move us endure long after the base has been transformed? Why, asked Marx, do we still look towards Greek art as an ideal? He began to answer the question […] and then broke off the manuscript and was far too occupied ever to return to the question.

Berger takes up the thread where Marx broke off. He is not, of course, the first Marxist to address the question of art, and he is familiar with most of those who tried before him, sorting through and furthering their legacy.

The most famous of Berger’s influences, Walter Benjamin, wrote the essay “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” from which came most of the ideas in Berger’s documentary, Ways of Seeing. But Landscapes reveals that his most important influence as a practicing art critic was Max Raphael.

Raphael, an undeservedly obscure theorist, located the value of art in the activity of the artist. According to him, an artist performs two operations. On the one hand, the artist turns raw material into artistic material by shaping it to represent an idea or an object; this is true both of Michelangelo shaping a block of marble into David and of Jackson Pollock embodying the rhythms of jazz in drip paintings. On the other, the artist turns his perception into something external and objective, a representation. The work of art is the result of these two transformations, of raw stuff and of subjective perception into an art object. For Raphael, the point of art is these two transformations: they are the artist’s way of “undoing the world of things” and constructing “the world of values.”

So Raphael’s answer to Marx’s problem — why is art enduringly moving even though it merely reflects its social context? — is to say that art doesn’t merely reflect its social context. It does reflect it, because the artist’s material, style, the things they want to represent, even the way they see, are historically conditioned; but it doesn’t merely reflect it, because the transformed material speaks of something deeper and more voluntary. It speaks of humanity’s ability to make its own world, to become the subject and not merely the victim of history. “The function of the work of art,” Berger sums up Raphael, “is to lead us from the work to the process of creation which it contains.”

Anyone familiar with Berger’s own writing will sit up with a shock of recognition. Here is a theory of art directly correlated to his practice of criticism. Berger takes art out of the sanitizing temples where we store it and drops it firmly back onto the easel, in a messy studio, where a sweaty artist bites her lip and stores her way of looking in an object. Over and over again, he asks us to imagine the artist at work. Many have attributed this to his own training as a painter, which might have inspired his fascination with technique, as I, an amateur pianist, am fascinated by the technique of my favorite recording artists. But I think his admiring discussion of Raphael suggests a much deeper reason. If Berger believes that the most important meaning of art is what it shows us of our ability to create the world we want, it turns out that his criticism is connected to his Marxism much more fundamentally than through the borrowing of a few insights from Walter Benjamin.

For Berger, art criticism is a revolutionary practice. It prepares the ground for a new society. In Landscapes, Overton includes a translation by Berger and Anya Rostock of a poem by Bertolt Brecht. It includes this passage:
Yet how to begin? How to show
The living together of men
That it may be understood
And become a world that can be mastered?
How to reveal not only yourselves and others
Floundering in the net
But also make clear how the net of fate
Is knotted and cast,
Cast and knotted by men?
[…] only he who knows that the fate of man is man
Can see his fellow men keenly with accuracy.

How to begin? Berger answers: In art. There we find proof and prophecy of a different world. In another essay, he writes:
We can no longer “use” most paintings today as they were intended to be used: for religious worship, for celebrating the wealth of the wealthy, for immediate political enlightenment, for proving the romantic sublime, and so on. Nevertheless, painting is especially well suited to developing the very faculty of understanding which has rendered its earlier uses obsolete: that is to say, to developing our historical and evolutionary self-consciousness.

This is the promise, the positive function of art. By looking at it, we are, in effect, looking through an artist’s eyes, entering into a concretized instance of their gaze. We are looking at a looking. And from within an artist’s looking, we learn about the capacities of our kind and the possibilities of our future: “A classical Greek sculpture increases our awareness of our own potential physical dignity; a Rembrandt of our potential moral courage; a Matisse of our potential sensual awareness.”

At the same time, Berger is of the opinion that the modern history of art is a history of failure. He won’t compromise on this point, and it is undoubtedly the reason for the stiff resistance that he has often met.

In modern times, Berger believes, the art world has hosted a titanic battle between two conceptions of art. One conception declares that art is valuable because it bodies forth the vision of an artist; it is a good in itself just to the degree that it succeeds at this task. This is Berger’s conception, and it is large enough to embrace all the varying and contradictory proclamations and provocations of the successive factions of modern art. The other conception declares that art is valuable because it is expensive — that, fundamentally, art is property:
Since 1848 every artist unready to be a mere paid entertainer has tried to resist the bourgeoisation of his finished work, the transformation of the spiritual value of his work into property value. This regardless of his political opinions as such. […] What Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and so on, all shared was their opposition to art-as-property and art-as-a-cultural-alibi-for-existing-society. We know the extremes to which they went […] and we see that their resistance was […] ineffective.

In other words, artists, like all other workers, are victims of a capitalism that alienates them from the fruit of their labor. Berger has nothing but scorn for the commercialization of art: “If you could fuck works of art as well as buy them,” he writes, dealers “would be pimps: but, if that were the case, one might assume a kind of love; as it is they dream of money and honour.” Everything about the modern art world is constructed on the assumption that art is precious in proportion to its price. Even among those who profess a genuine love of art, that passion is often tainted by its ideological function:
A love of art has been a useful concept to the European ruling classes for over a century and a half. The love was said to be their own. With it they could claim kinship with the civilisations of … [more]
johnberger  2017  robertminto  marxism  art  artists  artcriticism  criticism  henrymoore  politics  waysofseeing  frederickantal  tomoverton  economics  walterbenjamin  raphael  jacksonpollock  michelangelo  elitism  anyarostock  bertoltbrecht  process  craftsmanship  arthistory  resistance  constuctivism  dadaism  surrealism  property  society  culture  ownership  beauty  aesthetics  museums  artappreciation  creativity  creation  praxis  canon  objects  mystique  products  action  achievement  making  wealth  ideology  consumerism  consumption 
january 2017 by robertogreco
crap futures — A Crap Futures Manifesto
"Challenge #1: reverse this statement

‘We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture, people must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.’

Paul Mazur, Lehman Brothers, 1927

Challenge #2: reclaim the means - stop obsessing with the ends

‘Modern anthropology … opposes the utilitarian assumption that the primitive chants as he sows seed because he believes that otherwise it will not grow, the assumption that his economic goal is primary, and his other activities are instrumental to it. The planting and the cultivating are no less important than the finished product. Life is not conceived as a linear progression directed to, and justified by, the achievement of a series of goals; it is a cycle in which ends cannot be isolated, one which cannot be dissected into a series of ends and means.’

John Carroll

Challenge #3: (as things become increasingly automated) facilitate action not apathy

‘[W]hen it becomes automatic (on the other hand) its function is fulfilled, certainly, but it is also hermetically sealed. Automatism amounts to a closing-off, to a sort of functional self-sufficiency which exiles man to the irresponsibility of a mere spectator.’

Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects

Challenge #4: bring an end to this vacuous celebrity designer BS

‘My juicer is not meant to squeeze lemons; it is meant to start conversations.’

Philippe Starck

Challenge #5: interrupt legacy thinking and product lineages

‘All inventions and innovations, by definition, represent 
an advance in the art beyond existing base lines. Yet, most advances, particularly in retrospect, appear essentially incremental, evolutionary. If nature makes no sudden leaps, neither it would appear does technology.’

Robert Heilbroner

Challenge #6: rather than feed the illusion of invincibility, work from the reality of uncertainty and transience

‘Everywhere gold glimmered in the half-light, transforming this derelict casino into a magical cavern from the Arabian Nights tales. But it held a deeper meaning for me, the sense that reality itself was a stage set that could be dismantled at any moment, and that no matter how magnificent anything appeared, it could be swept aside into the debris of the past.’

J.G. Ballard, The Miracles of Life

Challenge #7: set aside the easier work of critique and take up the more difficult challenge of proposing viable alternatives

‘It is true that I can better tell you what we don’t do than what we do do.’

William Morris, News from Nowhere

Challenge #8: ask yourself (before putting things in the world): am I qualified to play God?

‘It’s not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you’re doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you’re right and your motives are good isn’t enough.’

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

Challenge #9: design ecologically

‘One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air. And the units nestle into the whole and are inseparable from it … all things are one thing and one thing is all things – plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.’

John Steinbeck, The Sea of Cortez

Challenge #10: adopt a khadi mentality

‘True progress lies in the direction of decentralization, both territorial and functional, in the development of the spirit of local and personal initiative, and of free federation from the simple to the compound, in lieu of the present hierarchy from the centre to the periphery.’

Pyotr Kropotkin

Challenge #11: be patient for the quiet days

‘Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.’

Arundhati Roy

Challenge #12: start building the future you want, with or without technology

‘People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.’

Ray Bradbury, Beyond 1984: The People Machines"
manifestos  crapfutures  paulmazur  desires  needs  anthropology  johncarroll  means  ends  jeanbaudrillard  apathy  action  philippestarck  celebrity  legacy  robertheilbroner  invention  innovation  evolution  invincibility  jgballard  uncertainty  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  critique  williammorris  viability  making  ursulaleguin  ecology  environment  johnsteinbeck  khadi  decentralization  function  functionality  arundhatiroy  patience  quiet  raybradbury  future  futurism  technology  utopia  resistance  peterkropotkin 
november 2016 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
themarysue: herestoyoumsholly: sarahexplosions:... - not rare
"Good is not a thing you are.  It’s a thing you do." [from Ms. Marvel #5, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona]
good  goodness  identity  action  iseemtobeaverb  msmarvel  gwollowwilson  adrianalphona 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Design tutorials: the basics | SB129
Within design education, there’s little shared wisdom about how to conduct a tutorial. The tutorial is the bread and butter of design learning; the main pedagogic object of interaction. But we, the design community, rarely share the nuts and bolts of how to navigate and steer a student through a successful project; how to encourage, provoke, inspire and lead a designer into new and fascinating territories.

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

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

Listening is Key

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

Ownership and embodiment

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

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

Mutual exploration

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

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

Expanding possibility space

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

Understand motivation, vulnerability and ‘learning style’

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

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

Agreed direction

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

Read and respond

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

The art of misinterpretation

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

References

One of the roles of a tutor is to point students towards relevant and inspiring resources. In the age of the internet, when student’s roam the halls of tumblr and are constantly fed inspiration by their favourite design blogs, the use, meaning and impact of tutor driven references has changed. Be focussed with reading, ensure students know why they are looking at a particular reference and make sure that you contextualise the work within the ideas that they have."
mattward  2013  teaching  pedagogy  cv  howweteach  howwelearn  design  art  tutotials  canon  listening  ownership  understanding  interpretation  misinterpretation  embodiment  making  exploration  apprenticeships  hierarchy  hierarchies  possibilityspace  motivation  vulnerability  feedback  constructivecriticism  context  empathy  conversation  audiencesofone  differentiation  contextualization  process  documentation  reflection  reggioemilia  emergentcurriculum  evidence  assessment  critique  communication  collaboration  mentoring  mentorship  mentors  response  action  direction  mutualaid 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Floating Lab Collective |
"The Floating Lab Collective is a group of artists working collaboratively on social research through public and media art projects in Washington DC, as well as nationally and internationally. They experiment with the aesthetics of direct action in crafting responses to specific places, communities, issues and circumstances. FLC artists move across visual art, performance, new media, and publications to engage and integrate such social topics as housing, the environment, migration, labor and urban mobility. One of FLC’s most important tools is a converted taco truck– a Floating Museum– that circulates projects among different neighborhoods, communities and regions.

Floating Lab Collective was started in 2007 in partnership with Provisions Library, an arts and social change research and development center at George Mason University. To date, over 50 groundbreaking community projects have been produced in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, New York City, Mexico City, Detroit (MI), Louisville (KY), Medellin (Colombia) and Port of Spain (Trinidad). Through Provisions, FLC has been funded by The Creative Communities Initiative, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Virginia Museum, George Mason University and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities."
art  openstudioproject  lcproject  activism  place  community  floatinglabcollective  floatingmuseum  newmedia  glvo  performance  action  projectideas  washingtondc  baltimore  nyc  mexicocity  mexicodf  portofspain  medellin  louisville  detroit  socialchange  medellín  dc  colombia  df 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Stand together or fall apart » No measure of health
"But I still have a lot of time for the gradualists, too. For one thing, a lot of fiery radicals miss opportunities to make real improvements in our lives within existing systems. Legalising same-sex marriage neither ended homophobia nor helped anyone who doesn’t fit a fairly traditional domestic template, but how many deportations has it forestalled? Obamacare is gravely compromised—a shadow of the reform it should have been—but how many bankruptcies will it prevent? Just because these are partial, provisional victories doesn’t mean they weren’t worth fighting for, and won’t stop me from cheering for them.

Just as importantly, I still share the gradualists’ fear. A while back, I tweeted something to the effect of “How can we have the Revolution without La Terreur?” and no-one answered. That’s not exactly a scientific measure, but I still don’t have an answer, still haven’t heard a good one from anyone else, and fear that the trauma that is Egypt today proves the point. Without such an answer, the thought of a true rupture still gives me sickening vertigo.

So what can we do? I like to look for middle ways, but I don’t see an adequate one here. I still write to electeds, and I will vote when I’m finally allowed, but I’m consciously minimising the time I spend on this kind of politics, because the potential wins are so dispiritingly far short of the change we need. The best I have is doing what I can to build and support human scale alternatives to the intermediated, dehumanising political economy we have as a default. In my more idealistic moments, I think we can just slowly render the old, ossified systems irrelevant and watch them fade away. Usually I see it as prototyping."
timmaly  quinnorton  ta-nehisicoates  2013  eldangoldenberg  tejucole  politics  policy  gradualists  democracy  middlegrounds  canon  action  activism  beginners  welcome  makerspaces  community  libraries  tools  toollibraries  communitiesofpractice  cynicism  compassion  conviviality  cooperation  coops  despair  work  decentralization  ecosystems  interdependence  lcproject  openstudioproject 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Unbuilding — Lined & Unlined
[now here: https://linedandunlined.com/archive/unbuilding ]

Here's another something that's too large to unpack in a quote or two or three or more, so just one, then read and view (many images) the rest.

"Unlike the thesis, Antithesis was an optional class. Instead of a constant, year-long process, it was interstitial, happening during a “down time” in the year. We didn’t really have class meetings — instead, I spent my time hanging out in the studio. Everyone loosened up. After thinking intensively about the thesis for 12 weeks, it was time to stop thinking about it — at least, consciously. The goal was not to keep pushing forward on the thesis but to get new projects started in parallel."

[video: https://vimeo.com/63008758 ]
completeness  sourcecode  viewsource  critique  susansontag  webdesign  aestheticpractice  criticalautonomy  canon  andrewblauvelt  billmoggridge  khoivinh  community  communities  livingdocuments  constitution  usconstitution  metaphors  metaphor  borges  telescopictext  joedavis  language  culturalsourcecode  cooper-hewitt  sebchan  github  johngnorman  recycling  interboropartners  kiva  pennandteller  jakedow-smith  pointerpointer  davidmacaulay  stevejobs  tednelson  humanconsciousness  consciousness  literacy  walterong  pipa  sopa  wikipedia  robertrauschenberg  willemdekooning  humor  garfieldminusgarfield  garfield  danwalsh  ruderripps  okfocus  bolognadeclaration  pedagogy  mariamontessori  freeuniversityofbozen-bolzano  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnmy  howweteach  cv  anti-hierarchy  hierarchy  autonomy  anti-autonomy  anti-isolation  anti-specialization  avant-garde  vanabbemuseum  charlesesche  understanding  knowing  socialsignaling  anyahindmarch  thinking  making  inquiry  random  informality  informal  interstitial  antithesis  action  non-action  anikaschwarzlose  jona 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Power to the People | Jacobin
"The idea of mutual aid was at the foundation of Occupy as much as the much-debated horizontalism and the opposition to the banks."

"Rebecca Solnit wrote so eloquently of the communities that arise in disaster, and Occupy was a response to a disaster itself, a slow-moving financial hurricane that destroyed homes as surely as the storm. So it shouldn’t be surprising that after Sandy moved through, the first people to jump into action were the same ones who had made things run in the park. The movement may have suffered from the lack of focus after the encampments were taken, but Sandy provided that focus and immediate needs to be provided for."

"what seemed entirely lost is the long tradition of service provision as political organizing…

political organizing and mutual aid go hand in hand, or they should… the early labor movement wasn’t just about organizing on the job but organizing in your neighborhood."
communities  community  disasters  rebeccasolnit  resilience  society  politics  politicalorganizing  action  horizontalism  mutualaid  2012  hurricanesandy  occupywallstreet  ows  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Franz Erhard Walther: Work as Action - artreview.com
"Franz Erhard Walther counts among those artists who, in the 1960s, sought to undermine the authorial role of the artist in favour of a more democratic aesthetic dependent on the interaction of viewer and object. Others with similar ideas whose work has entered the curatorial limelight of late include Charlotte Posenenske, featured in the last Documenta and subject of a one-person show this summer at Artists Space here in New York. Unlike Posenenske ¬– who wished to divorce the hand from artmaking in favour of mechanised labour – Walther seems to take his cue from Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man: simple and individual acts such as folding and lying, leaning and stepping are either the source of his often minimal works or the means by which individual viewers may interact with them."

[See also: http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/events/16187 AND http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1294 ]
canvas  wearables  johnbock  martinkippenberger  santiagosierra  josephbeuys  firstworkset  workasaction  action  charlotteposenske  collaborative  participatory  1967  franzerhardwalther  democratic  interactive  glvo  art  wearable  ncm  participatoryart  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
GOOD Magazine Retools As A Social Network For The Civic Self
“We are moving GOOD from a media company to a global community of pragmatic idealists,” Goldhirsh says. GOOD’s problem was that its audience didn’t need to be told what was good by editorial experts. The readers were the experts.

GOOD learned its lesson at the events it hosted. “People weren’t coming to engage with the staff of GOOD…They were coming to engage with the people who share the values of GOOD.” So the new site is a place for them to hang out & collaborate. The staff are there to support and amplify the audience’s efforts.

The site has been designed as a forum…

The GOOD staff takes the pulse of its community & bumps up worthy material to the For All Of Us section. It’s organized into topical sections, currently education, design, business & living. Much of this is sourced from the community, but original GOOD material also shows up here.

And since GOOD is ultimately about spurring its members to action, the third section is a sidebar called Together Let's…"
socialnetworks  socialaction  bengoldhirsh  communitymanagement  facilitating  facilitators  mediacompany  openstudioproject  glvo  lcproject  doing  actionminded  action  goodmagazine  jonmitchell  2012  community  activism 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Purpose: 21st Century Movements
"Purpose creates 21st century movements. We deploy the collective power of millions of citizens and consumers to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. We develop and launch our own social and consumer movements using our model of movement entrepreneurship, and we work with organizations and progressive companies to help them mobilize large-scale, purposeful action.

Purpose was born out of some of the most successful experiments in mass digital participation. Our principals are co-founders of Avaaz, the world’s largest online political movement with more than 15 million members operating in 14 languages, and the creators of Australia’s GetUp!, an internationally recognized social movement phenomenon with more members than all the country’s political parties combined. Purpose has helped to create significant new efforts to fight cancer, eliminate nuclear weapons and change our food culture. We’ve recently launched All Out, a global movement to win historic rights and…"
action  consumermovements  socialmovements  peopepower  allout  getup!  purpose.com  purpose  grassroots  politics  policy  branding  marketing  nonprofit  activism  nonprofits  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Adventurers Club | Place Hacking
"Exploration is not a process of learning something new as much as a process of rediscovering what you lost. As the polar explorer Erling Kagge has pointed out, we are all born explorers. Our first acts as new beings in the world are acts of discovery. We try risky things, we overextend our imaginations, we venture out, we are often pushed back. We learn through failures as much as successes."

"What I love about exploring with these three is that we always leave with a suitably rough plan. A lot of what we encounter and embrace is spontaneous discovery and that, to me, is the heart of exploration,  pushing our edge. The world offers us endless opportunities for discovery. We have been conditioned to overlook them in our need for efficiency and productivity. … Finding the exploration you desire necessitates closing your browser, packing a bag and heading into the world. You must plunge into action and cut new edges at your personal desire lines."
adventures  whatislost  2012  bradleygarrett  productivity  efficiency  action  noticing  deschooling  unschooling  conditioning  spontaneity  discovery  exploration  urbanexploration  placehacking  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Smart Set: Fifty-Thousand and Counting: The Aleph as metaphor in contemporary Mexico. - April 4, 2012
"And yet in the end what Borges does is worse than invalidate his friend’s testimony. He simply ignores it. He walks out into the street and lets himself succumb to the tides of forgetting. In Mexico we know of the corruption, the political criminality, and the surging numbers of the dead. The problem is not awareness, but what we do with the awareness. We can read and guffaw about the violence in our own homes, and nothing will continue to change. Especially if our minds are, as Borges describes, “porous for forgetting,” knowledge is not an end in itself. Careful record keeping and the murder meter will not enact change; we need to enact it ourselves."
metaphor  thealeph  aleph  borges  activism  action  awareness  memory  violence  mexico  johnwashington  2012  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Uffe Elbaek on social entrepreneurship | Education Futures
"When posed with the ques­tion of which skills and com­pe­ten­cies are crit­i­cal for suc­cess­ful so­cial en­tre­pre­neur­ship, Uffe cited four key com­pe­ten­cies from the KaosPi­lots pro­gram:

1. Mean­ing: If you don’t un­der­stand what you’re do­ing and why you are do­ing it, your ac­tiv­ity will fail. It is im­por­tant to cre­ate mean­ing through what we do.

2. Re­la­tion­ship: To­day’s so­ci­ety re­quires more team­work and so­phis­ti­cated com­mu­ni­ca­tion and prob­lem-solv­ing skills. Build­ing good re­la­tion­ships with the peo­ple you work with is crit­i­cal.

3. Change: You have to be able to un­learn what you al­ready know so that you can learn what is im­por­tant in a chang­ing world.

4. Ac­tion: You need to pro­duce solid, vis­i­ble re­sults."
kaospilots  uffeelbaek  johnmoravec  cristobalcobo  2011  socialentrepreneurship  knowmads  meaning  relationships  change  action  socialchange  problemsolving  softskills  education  learning  invention  fourthsector  ngo  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
We have to stop daydreaming about this « Re-educate Seattle
"we’re trying something new: What if we invited people to come to campus and just to do something they love doing?

[Examples]…

This is a different kind of teaching in that it’s spontaneously responding to a student’s curiosity in the moment. This is the kind of activity that enriches the school environment.

* * *

Will these new ideas work? I don’t know. But we’re going to find out.

There are two things we’re not going to. We’re not going to force students to participate in a battery of required activities, then use punishments and rewards to ensure compliance.

And, we’re not going to sit around watching Sir Ken Robinson’s “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” TED talk, lament the sad state of education in this country, & daydream about what it would be like if school was different.

As a society, we have to stop daydreaming about this."
stevemiranda  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  modeling  teaching  learning  education  2011  pscs  pugetsoundcommunityschool  doing  cv  daydreaming  motivation  punishment  rewards  coercion  compliance  schools  todo  tcsnmy  curriculumisdead  domanifesto  action  actionminded  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero’s Blog: Everything you ever needed to know about design, answered in five minutes by Charles Eames.
"Everything you ever needed to know about design, answered in five minutes by Charles Eames.

The video was produced for the exhibition “Qu’est ce que le design?” (or What is Design?) at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais de Louvre in 1969. A full transcript of the interview can be found here, and the video is available as part of The Films of Charles & Ray Eames DVD set."
design  art  eames  charleseames  definition  frankchimero  action  creation  designethic  constraints  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero’s Blog - The Storm and The Line
"…“changer les idées”… to do something different to clear one’s head.…to take a break, to have a rest, but most importantly…an interruption of routine…“to change one’s ideas.” Sometimes…inflicted on us…other times we may choose to do it for ourselves. If the world can be reinvented, we should reassess our presumptions and ideas, especially when we find ourselves in situations that shake us to the core…

…everything we do, everything we make, is not about the beginning or the end of things. We may draw a line, but we are in the thick of life. We make for these middle parts. Every time we sit down to write, draw, design, paint, dance, we do so because we believe there will be a tomorrow. Every movement and each creation says, “The world is not done yet.” To make is to be optimistic. We get to make tomorrow for ourselves and one another, and we are lucky, because we are allowed to be engaged with the world and one another in this way…"
design  culture  writing  language  life  nicholsonbaker  creativity  creating  making  doing  glvo  optimism  change  meaning  meaningmaking  happiness  sadness  emotions  frankchimero  routine  disruption  disruptive  disruptors  action 
june 2011 by robertogreco
When it comes to climate change, 'just do it' trumps 'think different'
"People’s belief or scepticism when it comes to climate change may not be as important as we think. What matters is how we behave.

A lot of fuss has been made about whether people believe in climate change. Is it happening or not? If it is, what part have we humans played?

It’s important to make a lot of fuss about this. But by worrying about people’s beliefs and attitudes about climate change, it’s easy to overlook other critical questions.

What are we doing about it (not much would appear to be the answer – aside from the proposed carbon tax perhaps), and why are we doing that (or why not)?"
sustainability  climatechange  action  actionminded  activism  environment  behavior  2011  pragmatism 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops | Magazine [What can we make to help address chronic tardiness problems?]
"The signs leverage what’s called a feedback loop, a profoundly effective tool for changing behavior. The basic premise is simple. Provide people w/ information about their actions in real time…then give them an opportunity to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors. Action, information, reaction. It’s the operating principle behind a home thermostat, which fires the furnace to maintain a specific temperature, or the consumption display in a Toyota Prius, which tends to turn drivers into so-called hypermilers trying to wring every last mile from the gas tank. But the simplicity of feedback loops is deceptive. They are in fact powerful tools that can help people change bad behavior patterns, even those that seem intractable. Just as important, they can be used to encourage good habits, turning progress itself into a reward. In other words, feedback loops change human behavior…"
technology  science  games  psychology  change  behavior  feedback  tcsnmy  speeding  safety  evidence  relevance  action  consequences  timeliness 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero’s Blog - The Storm and The Line
"…“changer les idées”… to do something different to clear one’s head.…to take a break, to have a rest, but most importantly…an interruption of routine…“to change one’s ideas.” Sometimes…inflicted on us…other times we may choose to do it for ourselves. If the world can be reinvented, we should reassess our presumptions and ideas, especially when we find ourselves in situations that shake us to the core…

…everything we do, everything we make, is not about the beginning or the end of things. We may draw a line, but we are in the thick of life. We make for these middle parts. Every time we sit down to write, draw, design, paint, dance, we do so because we believe there will be a tomorrow. Every movement and each creation says, “The world is not done yet.” To make is to be optimistic. We get to make tomorrow for ourselves and one another, and we are lucky, because we are allowed to be engaged with the world and one another in this way…"
design  culture  writing  language  life  nicholsonbaker  creativity  creating  making  doing  glvo  optimism  change  meaning  meaningmaking  happiness  sadness  emotions  frankchimero  routine  disruption  disruptive  disruptors  action 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Graduation Speech - SLA Class of 2011 - Practical Theory
"And after you have forgotten the granular details of the periodic table of elements, continue to honor the scientific spirit of inquiry, always asking powerful questions and seeking out complex answers.

That is, we hope, what you have learned from us. That inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are not just words in a mission statement but an iterative process of learning that can and will serve you the rest of your life if you let it. And perhaps above all else, remember that throughout that process, there are those in your life who have been there, who have cared about you, who have mentored you, and in doing so, hope that you will pay that forward. That you will care for those around you. That you will understand that the intersection of that ethic of care and that spirit of inquiry starts with asking the question, “What do you think?” caring about the answer, and then taking action."
learning  chrislehmann  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  education  collaboration  research  presentation  reflection  process  skepticism  ethics  care  questioning  action  actionminded  agency  legacy  persistence  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
cloudhead - The Anti-Manifesto Manifesto
"Manifestos are from an era when information moved slowly, but at the speed of light, there’s no time to declare your intentions … everything is made public as it happens.

Today a traditional manifesto arrives as a footnote to reality, just in time to make sense of a motion that’s already transpired.

Our actions and the reactions they excite are now the only meaningful declaration possible. The manifesto can no longer be separated from the reality it hopes to manifest.

New crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter point to a new kind of manifesto - one that merges declaration, action, and response into a single connective motion.

The new manifesto turns goals into roles for both actors and audience alike … before the environment or the goals have a chance to change."
shiftctrlesc  headmine  cloudhead  crowdfunding  kickstarter  manifestos  action  change  declaration  response  connectivism  connectivity  connectedness  audience  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Praxis (process) - Wikipedia
"In her The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt argues that Western philosophy too often has focused on the contemplative life (vita contemplativa) and has neglected the active life (vita activa). This has led humanity to frequently miss much of the everyday relevance of philosophical ideas to real life.[2] [3] Arendt calls “praxis” the highest and most important level of the active life.[4] Thus, she argues that more philosophers need to engage in everyday political action or praxis, which she sees as the true realization of human freedom.[5] According to Arendt, our capacity to analyze ideas, wrestle with them, and engage in active praxis is what makes us uniquely human."
education  learning  teaching  psychology  praxis  experientiallearning  reflection  action  doing  tcsnmy  lcproject  hannaharendt  kierkegaard  heidegger  kant  aristotle  plato  staugustine  marxism  karlmarx  antoniolabriola  iteration  iterative  do  practice  socialwork  theory  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Young People, Action and Education
"This example of student driven action goes well beyond adult organized marches, or adult driven activity for social justice. Many of these young people show an enduring understanding of their interdependence & interconnection with a nation and the world. For example, at minute 11:00 in the video a young woman articulates a distinct article of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (More on the declaration & UNPFII here!)

For all of us who see open and free learning as a fundamental human right, it’s important to recognize that there is global deliberation & decision making on issues well beyond neoliberalism happening in the UN and in other spaces….How we participate in these movements and with others around the world on these issues will shape the common bond we have as humans in the 21st century. As ecological and economic overshoot continues, understanding how to participate and network for education and global civic culture will increase in importance."
education  activism  tcsnmy  learning  action  thomassteele-maley  neoliberalism  civics  globalcitizens  networks  participatory  participation  un  humanrights  indigenous  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  2011  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Alt Press | Contributors | Empathy Orgy
"I feel like I'm trying to become the face of altruism or something. Do you ever feel that way? Crushed, helpless and impotent in the face of an event? Here is where I think empathy actually starts to become problematic: When your connection to other people goes beyond compassion and into a kind of nervous collapse. When I was younger—say high school-age—I had this happen to me constantly. Any horrible thing that happened anywhere in the world would make me feel like I shouldn't be allowed to have happiness on that day.

More than anything, I fear that most people in the world are losing the empathic trait and becoming more cutthroat, more self-interrested and more focused on the bottom line—socially acceptable psychopaths set loose to run the world…"
empathy  empathydeficit  agency  action  geoffrickly  2011  via:rushtheiceberg  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
BBC News - Five Minutes With: Alain de Botton
"I was a disturbed child, an adolescent, and I think that's where my interest in ideas comes from. I think that people become intellectual because of disturbance. My goal, raising my own children, is that they will never read a book or at least not be that dramatically inclined towards writing and reading. <br />
<br />
I think that reading and writing is a response to anxiety, often having a basis in childhood. I hope to at least quench some of that need in my children…<br />
<br />
The point of reading is to help you to live. It's not to pass an exam. It's not to sound clever. It's to get something out of it that you can use…<br />
<br />
We should be reading to help ourselves and help our societies. I don't believe in knowledge that is abstract and simply made to impress. I believe in knowledge that can be practical and that can bring us, in the broadest sense, happiness."
alaindebotton  philosophy  ideas  thinking  action  2010  parenting  paternalism  government  life  art  bbc  dialogue  debate  conversation  reading  writing  anxiety  tests  testing  adolescence  intellectualism  living  dialog  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Anarchist Tension by Alfredo M. Bonanno [via: http://elisesninja.tumblr.com/post/3243827407]
"Anarchism is not a concept that can be locked up in a word like a gravestone. It is not a political theory. It is a way of conceiving life, and life, young or old as we may be, whether we are old people or children, is not something final: it is a stake we must play day after day. When we wake up in the morning and put our feet on the ground we must have a good reason for getting up, if we don’t it makes no difference whether we are anarchists or not. We might as well stay in bed and sleep. And to have a good reason we must know what we want to do because for anarchism, for the anarchist, there is no difference between what we do and what we think, but there is a continual reversal of theory into action and action into theory. That is what makes the anarchist unlike someone who has another concept of life and crystallises this concept in a political practice, in political theory."
anarchism  anarchy  definitions  philosophy  life  theory  practice  values  principles  action  alfredobonanno  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Hannah Arendt (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
"Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a number of academic positions at various American universities until her death in 1975. She is best known for two works that had a major impact both within and outside the academic community. The first, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, was a study of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes that generated a wide-ranging debate on the nature and historical antecedents of the totalitarian phenomenon. The second, The Human Condition, published in 1958, was an original philosophical study that investigated the fundamental categories of the vita activa (labor, work, action)…"

[Quote on education here: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/3420478837/love-and-education ]
philosophy  history  politics  activism  hannaharendt  totalitarianism  human  labor  work  action  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » You’d Be Right To Wonder
"What I learned through that was the importance of making things — but it’s not just the made-thing but the making-of-the-thing, if you follow. In the *making you’re also doing a kind of thinking. Making is part of the “conversation” — it’s part of the yammering, but with a good dose of hammering. If you’re not also making — you’re sort of, well..basically you’re not doing much at all. You’ve only done a *rough sketch of an idea if you’ve only talked about it and didn’t do the iteration through making, then back to thinking and through again to talking and discussing and sharing all the degrees of *material — idea, discussions, conversations, make some props, bring those to the discussion, *repeat."
julianbleecker  making  make  doing  do  tcsnmy  lcproject  rapidprototyping  prototyping  iteration  thinking  designfiction  action  actionminded  glvo  cv  reflection  discussion  conversation  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
The Rockefeller Foundation on “the future of crowdsourced cities” « Adam Greenfield's Speedbird [Great post as Adam shutters Speedbird.]
"These are some easily-foreseeable problems w/ purely bottom-up approaches to urban informatics. None of this is to denigrate legacy of Jane Jacobs…remains personal hero & primary touchstone for my work. & none of it is to argue that there oughn’t be central role for democratic voice in development of policy, management of place & delivery of services. It’s just to signal that things might not be as clearcut as we might wish—especially those of us who have historically been energized by presence of clear (& clearly demonizable) opponent.

If I’ve spent my space here calling attention to pitfalls of bottom-up approaches…because I think the promise is so self-evident…delighted to hear Anthony Townsend’s prognostication of/call for a “planet of civic laboratories,” in which getting to scale immediately is less important than a robust search of possibility space around these new technologies, & how citydwellers around world will use them in their making of place."
cities  technology  bottom-up  crowdsourcing  action  activism  datavisualization  urbancomputing  urban  urbanism  janejacobs  robertmoses  anthonytownsend  urbaninformatics  place  civiclaboratories  lcproject  possibilityspace  systems  government  democracy  policy  servicedesign  transparency  collaboration  scale  consistency  infrastructure  intervention  offloading  responsibilization  municipalities  seeclickfix  entitlement  moderation  laurakurgan  sarahwilliams  spatialinformation  maps  mapping  statistics  benjamindelapeña  carolcolletta  ceosforcities  rockefellerfoundation  greglindsay  lauraforlano  spatial  humanintervention  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Journey's Jenova Chen on God, Authorship, and Creativity - PlayStation 3 Feature at IGN
"video games will not become a mature medium if Uncharted 2 & Gears of War do not exist. Even in film, books, & music there's always action—there's always rock & roll. Young people appreciate that kind of experience. When I was a teenager I felt my life was constrained by rules, school, my parents. I wanted to feel like I was empowered & different, that's why super heroes, comics, manga, & video games filled my needs. When I got older I realized power is not free, it comes with responsibility. I wanted to have a better understanding of life & the world around us. A lot of the greatest artists, their work is always about life & the world. I think there needs to be that for video games…

…Then no one will say, "Are you a gamer or not?" They will just say, "What kind of games do you like?" That's the day I want to see. That's the day video games will be treated as a high art and something that will be loved by everybody."

[via: http://notgames.tumblr.com/post/2184778164/then-no-one-will-say-are-you-a-gamer-or-not ]
jenovachen  games  gaming  play  art  highart  josephcampbell  videogames  culture  youth  adolescence  power  freedom  responsibility  experience  action  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
metacool: More thoughts on the primacy of doing: Shinya Kimura, Jeep, Corvette, and the cultural zeitgeist of life in 2010
"cultural zeitgeist of life in 2010 America is clearly saying "We need to start thinking with our hands again", & that we need at least to have confidence in our decision making as we seek to create things of intrinsic value…It's not difficult to get to a strong, compelling point of view. That's what design thinking can do for you. But in each of these videos I sense our society expressing a strong yearning for something beyond process, the courage to make decisions and to act. Talking and thinking is easy, shipping is tough…<br />
<br />
Tinkering, hacking, experimenting, they're all ways of experiencing the world which are more apt than not to lead to generative, highly creative outcomes. I firmly believe that kids & young adults who are allowed to hack, break, tear apart, & generally probe the world around them develop an innate sense of courage when it comes time to make a decision to actually do something. I see this all the time at Stanford…"
diegorodriguez  make  making  handson  hands  manufacturing  machines  tinkering  shinyakimura  detroit  gm  jeep  bigthree  spacerace  rockets  nostalgia  thinking  learning  experimenting  experience  facebook  google  apple  hacking  creativity  innovation  2010  jacobbronowski  design  engineering  machining  action  tcsnmy  glvo  lcproject  doing  motivation  do  corvette  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Thinking about social objects – confused of calcutta
"And that’s part of the reason I share some of the things I do via twitter: The music I listen to. The food I’m cooking or eating. The films I’m watching; the books I’m reading; the places I go to. Sometimes what I share is in the immediate past, sometimes it’s in the present, sometimes all I’m doing is declaring my intent. Because, paraphrasing John Lennon, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

When we share our experiences of sights and sounds and smells, we recreate the familiar imaginary places we share with others. We use these digital objects as the seed, as one dimension of the experience to flesh out the rest of that experience. So we take the sound or image or location or even in some cases the smell, and we extrapolate it into a rich memory of that particular experience. Which is often a worthwhile thing to do, for all the people who shared that “imaginary place” with you."
imaginaryplaces  constructedreality  jprangaswami  socialobjects  estherdyson  lifestreams  twitter  facebook  flickr  linkedin  socialnetworking  internet  future  web  search  action  thoreau  nicholasfelton  visualization  communities  interaction  relationships  conversation  sharing  augmentation  folksonomy  hashtags  metadata  place  meaning  experience  context  sharedspace  sharedexperience  music  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
A Herald From the Past « Snarkmarket
"Bayard Rustin’s first rule of man­age­ment was to make lists of every con­ceiv­able task. If some­body thinks that some­thing can pos­si­bly go wrong, come up with a spe­cific solu­tion, and put it on the list. Orga­niz­ing any­thing — a mas­sive march, a union picket, a train­ing pro­gram, a news­pa­per — suc­ceeds or fails because of details.

All day long, Rustin and his team crossed off com­pleted tasks and added new tasks to the three– and four-page lists"
bayardrustin  lists  problemsolving  organization  timcarmody  snarkmarket  doing  action  actionminded  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
…My heart’s in Accra » TEDGlobal: Transforming voting, and education
"Emily Pilloton has big idea for small community. She & her design firm, Project H are focused on transforming education in Bertie County, NC...

firm focuses on 6 principles: Design through action. Design with, not for. Design systems, not stuff. Document, share & measure. Start locally and scale globally. Build.

In the spirit of 5th principle – & because she fell in love w/ community – she & Matt now live there...working on 3 projects designed to transform local education system through design.

[1] rebuilds computer labs from place designed for “kill & drill”, getting students to take tests. Now it’s a creative, open space for exploration & interaction... [2] educational playground system invites students to learn kinetically... [3] project to teach design within public schools...

While this is a small story – 1 course, 13 students, 1 year – it’s a model for how design could lead education in future & how small communities might use education to transform themselves."
emilypilloton  projecthdesign  northcarolina  ethanzuckerman  2010  design  designthinking  tcsnmy  small  rural  problemsolving  ict  education  schools  openstudio  openstudioproject  do  doing  tinkering  exploring  making  creativity  activism  community  lcproject  systems  action  building  change  gamechanging  unschooling  deschooling  projecth 
july 2010 by robertogreco
davistudio: Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse
"Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting...struggling, gasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling...stumbling, rumbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatchiiing, bitching...searching, perching, besmirching...grinding away at yourself. stop it & just DO...trust & tickle something inside you, your "weird humor." you belong in the most secret part of you. don't worry about cool, make your own uncool...if you fear, make it work for you -- draw & paint your fear & anxiety. & stop worrying about big, deep things such as "to decide on a purpose and way of life..." you must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. then you will be able to DO! i have much confidence in you & even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. try & do some BAD work. the worst you can think of & see what happens but mainly relax & let everything go to hell."

[via: http://laurenzettler.tumblr.com/post/554920621/learn-to-say-fuck-you-to-the-world-once-in-a ]

[Update 31 January 2013: Links are dead. Try this: http://www.gwarlingo.com/2011/sol-lewitts-advice-to-eva-hesse/ via Caren Litherland]

[Update 12 August 2013: Another location via @datatelling http://magazine.seymourprojects.com/2013/02/s-stimulant-sol-lewitts-advice-to-eva-hesse/ ]
sollewitt  evahesse  do  glvo  motivation  initiative  overthinking  action  actionminded  uncool  cool  fear  risk  risktaking  worry  anxiety  purpose  yearoff  freedom 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Do blog - We used to gather around a fire to listen to...
"why are stories so important?...over time we have become comfortable with this way of getting information. We like the format. It works for us. We know how to decipher them. Indeed stories are how we used to learn but will also be very much how we learn in the future. In its simplest form they pass knowledge on. They explain things we don’t fully understand. They inspire us. With each great story comes life’s important lessons. About their determination, about what drove them, about trying to find a better way of doing something, about the struggles they met along the way. Stories are also important because they are about doing things. Stories need verbs. It’s the verb in the stories that gives it the action. The ‘Do’ bit. & importantly, people don’t forget stories, especially when told brilliantly. But they often forget facts, even if told in unique way. These stories in terms of learning are important; they show us the way. They demonstrate what is possible. They give us hope."
stories  verbs  action  do  doing  storytelling  learning  tcsnmy  ted  information 
may 2010 by robertogreco
b.a.n.g. lab » Bits.Atoms.Neurons.Genes
"Micro_Gestures at the Edge of Invisibility is an On/Off line space for artists in the Visual Arts Department at UCSD to explore and present works at the edge of invisibility, at the edge of the digital and biological, at the edge of micro-robotics and nano-art, from in-virtu to in-vivo works and back.

The b.a.n.g. lab is directed by Ricardo Dominguez.

Current projects include the Transborder Immigrant Tool.

Current lab members include Micha Cardenas and Christopher Head and Elle Mehrmand."
california  sandiego  ucsd  hacktivism  lab  biotech  bioart  artists  activism  art  education  community  technology  action  cartography  newmedia  mobile  blogs  politics  digital  ricardodominguez 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Repair California - Californians for a Constitutional Convention
"Day by day, evidence piles up demonstrating that California government is not only broken, it has become destructive to our future. The recent failure of the Legislature to negotiate a budget, in the direst of circumstances, is just another straw on the camel’s already-broken back.
constitution  california  elections  law  government  action  activism  politics  convention 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Cognitive Edge - Phronesis
"TED talk by Barry Schwartz which is a call for practical wisdom in the face of a society in the thrall of rules and incentives. Some great contextual anecdotes about hospital janitors to set the scene and the absurdity of the lemonade story to provide an imperative for action. I recommend listening to the whole thing which makes a strong but balanced case that in appealing to rules and incentives we are engaging with a war on wisdom. He argues cogently that while rules prevent disaster then can to easily result in mediocrity. One of my favourite examples of this is that of teachers measured on their learning plans rather than their ability to inspiring pupils. Goodhart's Law that I popularise as any measure used as a target ceases to be a measure has a variant in this talk namely: Any incentive system can be subverted by bad will Just look at the current controversy over bank bonuses for illustrations of this."
learning  teaching  tcsnmy  inspiration  ethics  philosophy  morality  practice  davesnowden  barryschwartz  ted  action  theory  phronesis  wisdom  thinking  via:preoccupations 
march 2009 by robertogreco
10 Steps to Take Action and Eliminate Bureaucracy | Zen Habits
"I’ve worked in a few offices where the paperwork, endless meetings, and other bureaucracy was ridiculous — so much so that the actual productive work being done was sometimes outweighed by the bureaucratic steps that needed to be taken each day.

When the focus is on action instead of bureaucracy, things get done."
administration  management  leadership  bureaucracy  meetings  tcsnmy  strategy  time  productivity  work  efficiency  action 
november 2008 by robertogreco

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