robertogreco + alexismadrigal   60

No one’s coming. It’s up to us. – Dan Hon – Medium
"Getting from here to there

This is all very well and good. But what can we do? And more precisely, what “we”? There’s increasing acceptance of the reality that the world we live in is intersectional and we all play different and simultaneous roles in our lives. The society of “we” includes technologists who have a chance of affecting the products and services, it includes customers and users, it includes residents and citizens.

I’ve made this case above, but I feel it’s important enough to make again: at a high level, I believe that we need to:

1. Clearly decide what kind of society we want; and then

2. Design and deliver the technologies that forever get us closer to achieving that desired society.

This work is hard and, arguably, will never be completed. It necessarily involves compromise. Attitudes, beliefs and what’s considered just changes over time.

That said, the above are two high level goals, but what can people do right now? What can we do tactically?

What we can do now

I have two questions that I think can be helpful in guiding our present actions, in whatever capacity we might find ourselves.

For all of us: What would it look like, and how might our societies be different, if technology were better aligned to society’s interests?

At the most general level, we are all members of a society, embedded in existing governing structures. It certainly feels like in the recent past, those governing structures are coming under increasing strain, and part of the blame is being laid at the feet of technology.

One of the most important things we can do collectively is to produce clarity and prioritization where we can. Only by being clearer and more intentional about the kind of society we want and accepting what that means, can our societies and their institutions provide guidance and leadership to technology.

These are questions that cannot and should not be left to technologists alone. Advances in technology mean that encryption is a societal issue. Content moderation and censorship are a societal issue. Ultimately, it should be for governments (of the people, by the people) to set expectations and standards at the societal level, not organizations accountable only to a board of directors and shareholders.

But to do this, our governing institutions will need to evolve and improve. It is easier, and faster, for platforms now to react to changing social mores. For example, platforms are responding in reaction to society’s reaction to “AI-generated fake porn” faster than governing and enforcing institutions.

Prioritizations may necessarily involve compromise, too: the world is not so simple, and we are not so lucky, that it can be easily and always divided into A or B, or good or not-good.

Some of my perspective in this area is reflective of the schism American politics is currently experiencing. In a very real way, America, my adoptive country of residence, is having to grapple with revisiting the idea of what America is for. The same is happening in my country of birth with the decision to leave the European Union.

These are fundamental issues. Technologists, as members of society, have a point of view on them. But in the way that post-enlightenment governing institutions were set up to protect against asymmetric distribution of power, technology leaders must recognize that their platforms are now an undeniable, powerful influence on society.

As a society, we must do the work to have a point of view. What does responsible technology look like?

For technologists: How can we be humane and advance the goals of our society?

As technologists, we can be excited about re-inventing approaches from first principles. We must resist that impulse here, because there are things that we can do now, that we can learn now, from other professions, industries and areas to apply to our own. For example:

* We are better and stronger when we are together than when we are apart. If you’re a technologist, consider this question: what are the pros and cons of unionizing? As the product of a linked network, consider the question: what is gained and who gains from preventing humans from linking up in this way?

* Just as we create design patterns that are best practices, there are also those that represent undesired patterns from our society’s point of view known as dark patterns. We should familiarise ourselves with them and each work to understand why and when they’re used and why their usage is contrary to the ideals of our society.

* We can do a better job of advocating for and doing research to better understand the problems we seek to solve, the context in which those problems exist and the impact of those problems. Only through disciplines like research can we discover in the design phase — instead of in production, when our work can affect millions — negative externalities or unintended consequences that we genuinely and unintentionally may have missed.

* We must compassionately accept the reality that our work has real effects, good and bad. We can wish that bad outcomes don’t happen, but bad outcomes will always happen because life is unpredictable. The question is what we do when bad things happen, and whether and how we take responsibility for those results. For example, Twitter’s leadership must make clear what behaviour it considers acceptable, and do the work to be clear and consistent without dodging the issue.

* In America especially, technologists must face the issue of free speech head-on without avoiding its necessary implications. I suggest that one of the problems culturally American technology companies (i.e., companies that seek to emulate American culture) face can be explained in software terms. To use agile user story terminology, the problem may be due to focusing on a specific requirement (“free speech”) rather than the full user story (“As a user, I need freedom of speech, so that I can pursue life, liberty and happiness”). Free speech is a means to an end, not an end, and accepting that free speech is a means involves the hard work of considering and taking a clear, understandable position as to what ends.

* We have been warned. Academics — in particular, sociologists, philosophers, historians, psychologists and anthropologists — have been warning of issues such as large-scale societal effects for years. Those warnings have, bluntly, been ignored. In the worst cases, those same academics have been accused of not helping to solve the problem. Moving on from the past, is there not something that we technologists can learn? My intuition is that post the 2016 American election, middle-class technologists are now afraid. We’re all in this together. Academics are reaching out, have been reaching out. We have nothing to lose but our own shame.

* Repeat to ourselves: some problems don’t have fully technological solutions. Some problems can’t just be solved by changing infrastructure. Who else might help with a problem? What other approaches might be needed as well?

There’s no one coming. It’s up to us.

My final point is this: no one will tell us or give us permission to do these things. There is no higher organizing power working to put systemic changes in place. There is no top-down way of nudging the arc of technology toward one better aligned with humanity.

It starts with all of us.

Afterword

I’ve been working on the bigger themes behind this talk since …, and an invitation to 2017’s Foo Camp was a good opportunity to try to clarify and improve my thinking so that it could fit into a five minute lightning talk. It also helped that Foo Camp has the kind of (small, hand-picked — again, for good and ill) influential audience who would be a good litmus test for the quality of my argument, and would be instrumental in taking on and spreading the ideas.

In the end, though, I nearly didn’t do this talk at all.

Around 6:15pm on Saturday night, just over an hour before the lightning talks were due to start, after the unconference’s sessions had finished and just before dinner, I burst into tears talking to a friend.

While I won’t break the societal convention of confidentiality that helps an event like Foo Camp be productive, I’ll share this: the world felt too broken.

Specifically, the world felt broken like this: I had the benefit of growing up as a middle-class educated individual (albeit, not white) who believed he could trust that institutions were a) capable and b) would do the right thing. I now live in a country where a) the capability of those institutions has consistently eroded over time, and b) those institutions are now being systematically dismantled, to add insult to injury.

In other words, I was left with the feeling that there’s nothing left but ourselves.

Do you want the poisonous lead removed from your water supply? Your best bet is to try to do it yourself.

Do you want a better school for your children? Your best bet is to start it.

Do you want a policing policy that genuinely rehabilitates rather than punishes? Your best bet is to…

And it’s just. Too. Much.

Over the course of the next few days, I managed to turn my outlook around.

The answer, of course, is that it is too much for one person.

But it isn’t too much for all of us."
danhon  technology  2018  2017  johnperrybarlow  ethics  society  calltoaction  politics  policy  purpose  economics  inequality  internet  web  online  computers  computing  future  design  debchachra  ingridburrington  fredscharmen  maciejceglowski  timcarmody  rachelcoldicutt  stacy-marieishmael  sarahjeong  alexismadrigal  ericmeyer  timmaughan  mimionuoha  jayowens  jayspringett  stacktivism  georginavoss  damienwilliams  rickwebb  sarawachter-boettcher  jamebridle  adamgreenfield  foocamp  timoreilly  kaitlyntiffany  fredturner  tomcarden  blainecook  warrenellis  danhill  cydharrell  jenpahljka  robinray  noraryan  mattwebb  mattjones  danachisnell  heathercamp  farrahbostic  negativeexternalities  collectivism  zeyneptufekci  maciejcegłowski 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Great Thing About Apple's 'Town Squares' - The Atlantic
"In adopting the faux democratic language of Facebook and Twitter, Apple has made the perfect physical metaphor for the largely ineffable problem the internet poses to democracy.

Maybe that will make people realize how absurd it is to expect fundamentally commercial entities to build community or to serve liberal democracy or to make your voice heard or to act as an agora or whatever else.

These are businesses. They sell stuff. People buy it. That’s great.

Bringing these democratic ideas inside private enterprises seems nice, but it warps the very idea of “the public.” Who is excluded from the Apple Town Square that should have equal access to the soapbox?"
democrcy  alexismadrigal  facebook  apple  publicspace  2017  twitter  language  technology  economics  corporatism  capitalism  latecapitalism 
september 2017 by robertogreco
The Weird Thing About Today's Internet - The Atlantic
"O’Reilly’s lengthy description of the principles of Web 2.0 has become more fascinating through time. It seems to be describing a slightly parallel universe. “Hyperlinking is the foundation of the web,” O’Reilly wrote. “As users add new content, and new sites, it is bound into the structure of the web by other users discovering the content and linking to it. Much as synapses form in the brain, with associations becoming stronger through repetition or intensity, the web of connections grows organically as an output of the collective activity of all web users.”

Nowadays, (hyper)linking is an afterthought because most of the action occurs within platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and messaging apps, which all have carved space out of the open web. And the idea of “harnessing collective intelligence” simply feels much more interesting and productive than it does now. The great cathedrals of that time, nearly impossible projects like Wikipedia that worked and worked well, have all stagnated. And the portrait of humanity that most people see filtering through the mechanics of Facebook or Twitter does not exactly inspire confidence in our social co-productions.

Outside of the open-source server hardware and software worlds, we see centralization. And with that centralization, five giant platforms have emerged as the five most valuable companies in the world: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook."



"All this to say: These companies are now dominant. And they are dominant in a way that almost no other company has been in another industry. They are the mutant giant creatures created by software eating the world.

It is worth reflecting on the strange fact that the five most valuable companies in the world are headquartered on the Pacific coast between Cupertino and Seattle. Has there ever been a more powerful region in the global economy? Living in the Bay, having spent my teenage years in Washington state, I’ve grown used to this state of affairs, but how strange this must seem from from Rome or Accra or Manila.

Even for a local, there are things about the current domination of the technology industry that are startling. Take the San Francisco skyline. In 2007, the visual core of the city was north of Market Street, in the chunky buildings of the downtown financial district. The TransAmerica Pyramid was a regional icon and had been the tallest building in the city since construction was completed in 1972. Finance companies were housed there. Traditional industries and power still reigned. Until quite recently, San Francisco had primarily been a cultural reservoir for the technology industries in Silicon Valley to the south."

[See also:

"How the Internet has changed in the past 10 years"
http://kottke.org/17/05/how-the-internet-has-changed-in-the-past-10-years

"What no one saw back then, about a week after the release of the original iPhone, was how apps on smartphones would change everything. In a non-mobile world, these companies and services would still be formidable but if we were all still using laptops and desktops to access information instead of phones and tablets, I bet the open Web would have stood a better chance."

"‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/technology/evan-williams-medium-twitter-internet.html]

[Related:
"Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/technology/techs-frightful-five-theyve-got-us.html

"Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?: The Big Five tech companies increasingly dominate our lives. Could you ditch them?"
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/10/technology/Ranking-Apple-Amazon-Facebook-Microsoft-Google.html

"Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are not just the largest technology companies in the world. As I’ve argued repeatedly in my column, they are also becoming the most powerful companies of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. But which of the Frightful Five is most unavoidable? I ponder the question in my column this week.

But what about you? If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?"]
alexismadrigal  internet  2017  apple  facebook  google  amazon  microsoft  westcoast  bayarea  sanfrancisco  seattle  siliconvalley  twitter  salesforce  instagram  snapchat  timoreilly  2005  web  online  economics  centralization  2007  web2.0  whatsapp  evanwilliams  kottke  farhadmanjoo 
may 2017 by robertogreco
What I learned from a week at the Mexico border wall | Fusion
"As I looked back over the footage I’d shot, I kept coming back to that far eastern edge of Tijuana, where the city is at its most emergent and the wall ends. Many of the roofs were covered by what appear to be recycled billboards. A random smattering of advertisements face skyward, targeting no one. Models’ faces, beer cans, cars, movie posters. A jumble of discarded messages from the culture: 1-800-GET-THIN, Toyota of Riverside, Ariel from the Little Mermaid, a Mercedes, More Energy, Party!, Jack Black, a trumpet, Bud Light, a robot crossed out, Lying Game, Choose Me, a truck cab, Ringer, Any ID, Want More?, Love the Artist, Man on a Ledge.

My border experience felt like this kind of boisterous collage. Two countries connected by global capitalism, by local culture, by Spanglish, by the weather and the sunset and tiny blue-tailed lizards, by the Raiders, by Juanes, by trucks and cargo containers and radio waves, by Tecate and Dos Equis, by Tinder, by Disney princesses, by skinny jeans, by hair dye, by checking the Border Wait app to see how long it’s gonna take to cross.

The border as a wall, as a line on a map, as a way of life, as something you never visit until relatives come from out of town, as the storehouse for all the pieces that seem to go missing from every immigration story, including my family’s own."
sandiego  border  borders  us  mexico  2016  alexismadrigal  tijuana  calexico 
october 2016 by robertogreco
It Doesn't Know What You Want Until You Teach It
"So, I just got home from Tel Aviv, which, while I happened to be there, was hit by a massive sandstorm that swept across from Syria.

Now, sandstorms, or at least the one I saw, do not work like the ones in Mad Max. I woke up in my little hotel cocoon, threw back the blackout curtains and saw … nothing. Because that’s what sandstorms do: they make landscape into nothing. They disappear buildings and the sea and the horizon and even the sun. Beyond half a mile, everything fades into white-yellow nothing.

I went for a run up the beach until I got to an old crumbling stone jetty. An old shirtless man with a huge belly was fishing from it. All I could see was a few big hotels behind me rising into dust and this jetty with the man in front of me. And it was possible to imagine that this was all the world, that this little narrow spit of land was all that was left.

That’s the dystopian story.

But, at the same time, I could snap a photo of the sea and the sky and send it to my wife across the world and have her send me back a picture of our son. And I could go look up the sandstorm and see it from a NASA satellite. And Apple would put out a new version of their phone, and just down the road, hundreds of Israeli startups were building new things in the world. And as I wandered around Tel Aviv, the strange light of the sandstorm making every photo look as if it were taken in a dream, I thought to myself: there are so many futures happening at once.

When we imagine a utopia or dystopia, both represent a hope that human lives will somehow be less messy and complex in the future than they are now. Because, good or bad, that’s the most comforting lie we can tell ourselves about what’s going to come: that we might be able to process and understand it more easily than we do our own short moment.

It's good to be back."
alexismadrigal  sandstorms  future  futures  humanity  life  messiness  complexity  technology  2015  communication  photography  perception  utopia  dystopia  understanding  presence 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Surviving Cinco de Mayo: one man's ambivalent guide to the Taco Bell of holidays | Fusion
"But then one day, I was explaining this position to a dude I knew. He was a little guy, spiky gelled hair, ducktail in the back, looked like a striker for a soccer team relegated to the second-tier league. And as I dismounted from my high horse, he turned to me and said, “You gotta chill. It’s fun. And everybody wants to hook up with a Mexican on Cinco de Mayo.”

This is not exactly airtight logic, but it cracked my self-seriousness: maybe to hate on Cinco de Mayo was more pedantry than politics.

I started to dig a little deeper. My friend Gustavo Arellano, the eponymous Mexican of OC Weekly’s Ask a Mexican column, reminds us that no less a figure than Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Octavio Paz (after whom I named my first born) had ensconced partying as a core component of the Mexican soul. “Something impedes us from being. And since we cannot or dare not confront our own selves, we resort to the fiesta,” Paz writes in his linked series of essays, Labyrinth of Solitude. “It fires us into the void; it is a drunken rapture that burns itself out, a pistol shot in the air, a skyrocket.”

Perhaps Mexicans in the United States, in many cases prevented from citizenship (i.e. full legal recognition of their selves), didn’t mind having a drunken rapture once a year, even if the occasion was as fabricated as Valentine’s Day. And if all the gringos joined in, too, so much the better.

Faced with these various questions, I decided to turn to my most trusted authority on Mexicanidad, my dad Salvador Madrigal, who was born in Mexico DF, and came to the states in his late teens (returning various times over the next couple decades, including for my early childhood). He is my own personal connection to the homeland, of course, and a close observer of both nations."



"Well, then, I was back to my central dilemma. What is a half-Mexican kid who grew up in the US to do about Cinco de Mayo? Burn my sombrero or wear it to happy hour?

“The best you can do is provide good craft beer and good Mexican food for your Cinco de Mayo party guests,” he offered. “They’ll think you are weird for not providing Corona and nachos but your soul will feel better.”

We may not be able to win the battle of Cinco de Mayo against the corporate beer and restaurant brands. We will not find improbable victory in the way that Mexican troops did in 1862 in Puebla.

But our war has already been won. Demographics are destiny. We’re gonna be 30 percent of this country in 45 years, says the US Census Bureau. And our real culture will exert an ever greater influence on mainstream America from border to border, no matter how many bros don ponchos and mustaches to get pissdrunk on Corona today."
2015  cincodemayo  alexismadrigal  mexico  holidays  ethnicity  joséalamillo  gustavoarellano  octaviopaz  us  history  corona  benitojuarez 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Press Play — Press Play: Making and distributing content in the present future we are living through. — Medium
"This thing of ours:

This course, Press Play, aspires to be a place where you make things. Good things. Smart things. Cool things. And then share those things with other people. The idea of Press Play is that after we make things we are happy with, that we push a button and unleash it on the world. Much of it will be text, but if you want to make magic with a camera, your phone, or with a digital recorder, knock yourself out. But it will all be displayed and edited on Medium because there will be a strong emphasis on working with others in this course, and Medium is collaborative.

While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people. We will be working in groups with peer and teacher edits. There will be a number of smaller assignments, but the goal is that you will leave here with a single piece of work that reflects your capabilities as a maker of media.But remember, evaluations will be based not just on your efforts, but on your ability to bring excellence out of the people around you. Medium has a remarkable “notes” function where the reader/editor can highlight a specific word, phrase or paragraph and comment, suggest a tweak or give an attaboy. This is counter-intuitive, but you will be judged as much by what you put in the margins of others work as you are for your own. (You should sign on to Medium as soon as you can. You can log in with Facebook or Twitter credentials. Pithy instructions on writing and collaborating on Medium: here, here, here, and, yes, here.)To begin with, we will look at the current media ecosystem: how content is conceived, made, made better, distributed, and paid for. We will discuss finding a story, research and reporting, content management systems, voice, multimedia packaging, along with distribution and marketing of work. If that sounds ambitious, keep in mind that in addition to picking this professor and grad assistant, we picked you. We already know you are smart, and we just want you to demonstrate that on the (web) page.

What we‘ll create:

Together, we will make a collection of stories on Medium around a specific organizing principle — it could be a genre, topic, reading time, or event — which we’ll decide on in collaboration as well. And once we get stories up and running, we will work on ways of getting them out there into the bloodstream of the web.

In order to have a chance of making great work, you have to consume remarkable work. Fair warning: There will be a lot of weekly reading assignments. I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings. Skip or skim at your peril.

I will be bringing in a number of guest speakers. They will be talented, accomplished people giving their own time. Please respond with your fullest attention.

So, to summarize: We will make things — in class, in groups, by our lonely selves — we will work to make those things better, and, if we are lucky, we will figure out how to beckon the lightning of excellence along the way."
davidcarr  2014  web  online  internet  syllabus  education  journalism  writing  howwewrite  ta-nehisicoates  teaching  mooc  moocs  lesliejamison  clayshirky  alexismadrigal  jessicatesta  nrkleinfield  sarahkoenig  davidfosterwallace  elizabethroyte  zachseward  joshuadavis  shanesnow  brianlam  kevinkelly  luciamoses  storytelling  vincentmorisset  emilygibson  caityeaver  mischaberlinski  triciaromano  hamiltonnolan  camilledodero  erinleecarr  mariakonikkova  tonyhaile  ralphabellino  mashacharnay  santiagostelly  timstelloh  jayrosen  felixsalmon  multimedia  socialmedia  canon  engagement  media  distribution  voice  syllabi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Your guide to California in the Pacific world, past, present, and future
"via: https://twitter.com/the_wrangler/status/567023408064778240
"California is a queer place... it has turned its back on the world and looks into the void Pacific."—D.H. Lawrence: http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/1862325/d14d0bdf66/572442965/353d17b409/ "

"At Boom, we think of our mission as opening up conversations about California in the world and the world in California. California was part of the Pacific world long before it was part of the United States. Today, we live in many worlds. The Pacific is not the only one. But it is arguably most important for California—and one we are still trying to figure out.

We put together our new issue looking backward and forward on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco to try to provoke, inspire, and sustain a conversation about California in the Pacific world: 1915 | 2015 | 2115.

In the process, we found a strong current we didn’t anticipate running from the past through the present and into the future: the quest for a California cosmopolitanism in the Pacific world.

Our spring issue, in the mail to subscribers now, is divided into three sections. Colin Marshall, Wendy Cheng, Robert Gottlieb, and Jean Melesaine kick things off by exploring the state of California in the Pacific world—or Latin-Pacific world—today. Elizabeth Logan, Abigail Markwyn, Phoebe S.K. Young, and Suzanne Fischer explore the 1915 roots of California’s cosmopolitanism in an optimism for peace and prosperity on the eve of World War I, but also in the deeply troubling scientific racism that underpinned imperial aspirations abroad and segregation at home. And then we look ahead to 2115, with help from Gustavo Arellano, Alex Steffen, Alexis Madrigal, and Annalee Newitz. Will Silicon Valley's view of itself and California still at the center of the Pacific world prevail, or will a broader Pacific cosmopolitanism win out, one in which California may not be the center, but will always be a part?

The full issue is already available on JSTOR, and over the coming weeks we’ll be rolling it out at www.boomcalifornia.com, where historian Thomas Osborne’s introductory essay [http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2015/02/california/ ] is up now, along with my letter from the editor's desktop, the full list of contributors, and our quarterly Boom list of things to do, see, and read around California this spring. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be sure you don't miss a thing."

[See also: http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2015/02/from-the-editors-desktop-4/
and http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2015/02/contributors-spring-2015/
and http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2015/02/spring-2015/ ]
california  pacific  2015  history  dhlawrence  1915  2115  cosmopolitanism  colinmarshall  wendycheng  roberthgottlieb  jeanmelasaine  elizabethlogan  abigailmarkyn  phoebeyoung  suzannefischer  optimism  gustavoarellano  alexsteffan  alexismadrigal  annaleenewitz  boomcalifornia  thomasosborne 
february 2015 by robertogreco
This defensive drone has a net to capture other drones -- Fusion
"France gets 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, which means the country has a lot of nuclear plants. And in the airspace above those plants, French authorities have discovered a troubling thing: little drones flying to and fro. The AP reports that “a recent spate of mystery drones flying over its nuclear plants, military installations and even the presidential palace” have caused the country’s government to ask scientists to “devise ways to counteract the small — and so far harmless — motorized menaces overhead.”

The U.S. government is similarly interested in anti-drone technologies. American authorities are particularly worried about swarms of small drones.

But if you like your drone deterrence with a bit of French slapstick thrown in, behold the video above. That’s the Drone Interceptor MP200, a net-bearing flying vehicle developed by Malou Tech, a startup associated with the French telecom Groupe Assmann (not a typo or a joke).

The MP200 is designed to autonomously fly up to other drones—and using a suite of on-board sensors—literally drop a net on them. That binds their blades, and allows the MP200 to deliver the offending vehicle away from the nuclear power plant or presidential palace or what have you.

There is a future in which small drones flown by terrorists and governments evolve rapidly—like predators and prey after the Cambrian explosion. Your drone gets a net? Mine has on-board scissors. Your drone smashes my scissors with a hammer? My drone deploys a shield. And on and on.

Or, as the chief of Malou Tech told the AP after one of his drones dropped a 16-ounce water bottle by remote control: “Everything is possible.”"
drones  droneproject  2015  alexismadrigal 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Welcome to the Real Future -- Fusion
"I mean, who has not watched YouTube videos of parrots singing arias or animal mindreaders? Or looked up the reality of a memory-destroying apparatus? The Internet is the machine Buendía wanted.

The present is dazzling. People all over the world are desperately producing tweets and snaps and posts hoping that you’ll read and share them. Most media can be found by pulling one’s thumb down on a screen and waiting for a new set of free cultural products to appear. Time itself seems stranger now, too, thanks to the flattening effect of the Internet. (The futurist Bruce Sterling calls our state “atemporality.”) Go to the hippest Tumblr and you’ll see strange futuristic visions from the 1970s, retro photos of people jet-skiing in 1950s Florida, paintings of 1890s Hong Kong using an ancient Chinese technique, and daguerreotypes of Civil War soldiers. Yet we consume them all together happily, unable to peel the onion skins apart, even if we wanted to. The National Security Agency keeps watch, too, building a dark registry in the shadows of the new Library of Alexandria that Jill Lepore describes being created at the Internet Archive.

The present is also dark. Every other book seems set in a dystopian world with too much technology destroying human dignity, or too little giving back all the genuine progress of civilization. The TV show we got most excited about this year, Black Mirror, depicted the ways that near-future technology will leave us disillusioned and despairing. In the present, it’s hard not to be disillusioned by the many charlatans and thinkfluencers peddling bullshit in and around the tech industry. Consumed by the near-certainty that they will fail, the lucky few entrepreneurs who succeed rarely consider the ramifications of winning. The best monetary redistribution mechanism we seem to have is to enrich a few people with so many billions of dollars that they commit to giving almost all of it away.

At Real Future, we want to show you glimpses of the future alongside what we see of all the past eras. We can find the innovations and ideas that are going to carry forward in time and present them to you, alongside the rest of the timeline of technological development. We want to think about real futures. The ones where nothing goes according to plan, but Skynet doesn’t take over, either. The one where everything is amazing and nobody’s happy. Or maybe where everybody’s happy but nothing’s amazing. By loosening the present’s hold on us, we hope to find new ways of thinking. Just considering the future can shift our perspective about this moment. Why else would Margaret Atwood set her latest book’s release date 99 years from now?

If this sounds vague and theoretical, trust that it’s not. The core of our enterprise around here will be deep, interesting reporting about technology. But part of understanding how technology works is exposing the implicit or explicit political philosophies of the technology industry. So, yes, we will write about all the interesting stuff coming out of Silicon Valley. But we can’t ignore racism, sexism, homophobia, jingoism. We can’t overlook historical injustice just because there has been some progress that benefits everyone.

What tech gets made is organized by what people believe. If the mission of Fusion is to champion a more diverse, inclusive America, our mission is to champion a more diverse, inclusive future.

Our team isn’t new to this kind of work. Kashmir Hill, who came to us from Forbes, has been the best writer on the freaky future of privacy and data for years. Kevin Roose, a New York magazine alum, created inventive, brilliant ways of telling stories about the start-up economy. Daniela Hernandez gained a deep understanding of artificial intelligence through a PhD in neurobiology and a stint at Wired. Cara Rose De Fabio is an artist who has created live experiences that critiqued and deepened her audience’s sense of how technology worked within their minds. Pendarvis Harshaw has and will continue to cover the intersection of cities, justice, and technology.

Together, we want to help people understand the complex interplay of technical possibilities and ideas that come together to limit or open up different futures. The shorthand we’ve been using is that we’re going to tell stories about the worlds we’ll live in. And everyone in those worlds will be accounted for, not just those with geek bona fides or stock options. Too many technology stories are written from the perspective of the producers, and far too few about the users. (Who are the co-creators of all social technologies, anyway.)"
alexismadrigal  realfuture  fusion  futurepresent  technology  2015  inclusion  justice  injustice  difference  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
'In the 2000s, there will be only answers' -- Fusion
"Some writers we know write about the future: William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin. We expect them to find insights about how humans might live. But what about someone like Marguerite Duras, an influential post-war French novelist and filmmaker? She had important things to say about the 20th century. What might she say about the future?

Photonics researcher Antoine Wojdyla stumbled across an interview with Duras from September 1985 in the French magazine Les Inrocks. Struck by Duras’ perspective on technology and deception, he translated the article out of the goodness of his heart and sent it to me. It’s strange and remarkable, an uncanny interpretation of our present.

I read her statement as a kind of pre-answer to Google and wearables and the quantified self. When former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal in 2010, “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” That’s what Duras means when she says, “In the 2000s, there will only be answers.”

In any case, here’s Duras as translated by Wojdyla:
In the 2000s, there will be only answers. The demand will be such that there will only be answers. All texts will be answers, in fact. I believe that man will be literally drowned in information, in constant information. About his body, his corporeal future, his health, his family life, his salary, his leisure.

It’s not far from a nightmare. There will be nobody reading anymore.

They will see television. We will have screens everywhere, in the kitchen, in the restrooms, in the office, in the streets.

Where will we be? When we watch television, where are we? We’re not alone.

We will no longer travel, it will no longer be necessary to travel. When you can travel around the world in eight days or a fortnight, why would you?

In traveling, there is the time of the travel. Traveling is not seeing things in a rapid succession, it’s seeing and living in the same instant. Living from the travel, that will no longer be possible.

Everything will be clogged, everything will have been already invested.

The seas will remain, nevertheless, and the oceans.

And reading. People will rediscover that. A man, one day, will read. And everything will start again. We’ll encounter a time where everything will be free. Meaning that answers, at that time, will be granted less consideration. It will start like this, with indiscipline, a risk taken by a human against himself. The day where he will be left alone again with his misfortunes, and his happiness, only that those will depend on himself.

Maybe those who will get over this misstep will be the heroes of the future.

It’s very likely, let’s hope there will be some left…
"
alexismadrigal  2015  answers  questions  askingquestions  questionasking  margueriteduras  predictions  passivity  reading  howweread  online  internet  web  thewaywelive  indiscipline  happiness  misfortune  travel  traveling  tv  television  media  screens  information  infooverload 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Selin Jessa on Twitter: "Phrases, lately: (0. "bits of poetry stick to her like burrs" Jenny Offill's Dept. Speculation)"
"Phrases, lately: (0. "bits of poetry stick to her like burrs" Jenny Offill's Dept. Speculation)"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549813158462775296

"i. "between kind wildness & wild kindness" @mojgani, https://twitter.com/mojgani/status/548544254339846144 …"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549813370346405888

"ii. "a practice of worlding" http://thomvandooren.org/2014/07/19/care-some-musings-on-a-theme/ …"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549813522259906561

"iii. "craftmanship of knowing" Latour in Visualization and Cognition"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549813748819439617

"iv. "to bring the body back in" Towards Enabling Geographies, Chouinard (ed)"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549814454817280000

"v. "your bones as piccolos" http://poeticise.tumblr.com/post/73755575134/how-to-love-bats-by-judith-beveridge …"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549814682618302464

"vi. "the bone of the planet" a misreading of @alexismadrigal's 11/05 5IT"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549814925434966017

"vii. "each cell shimmying on its little mitochondrial hilt" Carson, Red doc >"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549815236123844608

"viii. "the tree unleafing" http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/18623/auto/TO-SPARENESS-AN-ASSAY …"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549815847921786881

"ix. "visitations of light" Ledgard, Submergence"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549815954545180672

"x. "May your listening be good!" http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/passerby-these-are-words …"
https://twitter.com/selinjessa/status/549816439117332480
selinjessa  language  phrases  jennyoffill  anismojgani  brunolatour  judithbeveridge  poetry  poems  alexismadrigal  redcarson  janehirshfield  jmledgard  submergence  yvesbonnefoy  verachouinard  thomvandooren  worlding  craftmanship  knowing  visualization  cognition  body  bodies  bones  biology  unleafing  plants  science  nature  light 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 6: Accident Blackspot
"AGE OF NON-CONSENT: On my way home from the airport last week, I got into a cab that had a TV screen in the passenger area (as is now common in Boston and other cities). As I always do, I immediately turned it off. A few minutes later, it turned itself on again. That got me thinking about this amazing piece [http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/the-fantasy-and-abuse-of-the-manipulable-user ] by Betsy Haibel at Model View Culture, about ‘when mistreating users becomes competitive advantage’, about technology and consent (seriously, go read it; it’s more important that you read that than you read this). I had started thinking more about how technology is coercive and how it pushes or crosses the boundaries of users a few weeks ago, when I got a new phone. Setting it up was an exercise in defending my limits against a host of apps. No, you can’t access my Contacts. No, you don’t need access to my Photos. No, why the hell would you need access to my Location? I had to install a new version of Google Maps, which has crippled functionality (no memory of previous places) if you don't sign into Google, and it tries to convince you to sign in on every single screen, because what I obviously really want is for Google to track my phone and connect it to the rest of my online identity (bear in mind that the only objects that have have a closer average proximity to me than my phone does are pierced through bits of my body). Per that Haibel article, Google’s nagging feels exactly like the boundary-crossing of an unwanted suitor, continually begging for access to me it has no rights to and that I have no intention of providing.

This week, of course, provided a glorious example of how technology companies have normalized being indifferent to consent: Apple ‘gifting’ each user with a U2 album downloaded into iTunes. At least one of my friends reported that he had wireless synching of his phone disabled; Apple overrode his express preferences in order to add the album to his music collection. The expected 'surprise and delight' was really more like 'surprise and delete'. I suspect that the strong negative response (in some quarters, at least) had less to do with a dislike of U2 and everything to do with the album as a metonym for this widespread culture of nonconsensual behaviour in technology. I've begun to note examples of these behaviours, and here are a few that have come up just in the last week: Being opted in to promo e-mails on registering for a website. Being forced by Adobe Creative Cloud into a trial of the newest version of Acrobat; after the trial period, it refused to either run Acrobat or ‘remember’ that I had a paid-up institutional license for the previous version. A gas pump wouldn't give me a receipt until after it showed me an ad. A librarian’s presentation to one of my classes was repeatedly interrupted by pop-ups telling her she needed to install more software. I booked a flight online and, after I declined travel insurance, a blinking box appeared to 'remind' me that I could still sign up for it. When cutting-and-pasting the Jony Ive quote below, Business Insider added their own text to what I had selected. The Kindle app on my phone won’t let me copy text at all, except through their highlighting interface. When you start looking for examples of nonconsensual culture in technology, you find them absolutely everywhere.

Once upon a time, Apple was on the same side as its users. The very first iMac, back in 1998, had a handle built into the top of it, where it would be visible when the box was opened. In Ive’s words, ‘if there's this handle on it, it makes a relationship possible…It gives a sense of its deference to you.’ Does anyone feel like their iPhone is deferential to them? What changed? Part of it is what Ethan Zuckerman called ‘the original sin’ of the Internet [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/advertising-is-the-internets-original-sin/376041/ ], the widespread advertising-based model that depends on strip-mining user characteristics for ad targeting, coupled with what Maciej Ceglowski describes as ‘investor storytime’ [http://idlewords.com/bt14.htm ], selling investors on the idea that they’ll get rich when you finally do put ads on your site. The other part is the rise of what Bruce Sterling dubbed “the Stacks” [http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/459/State-of-the-World-2013-Bruce-St-page01.html ]: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft. Alexis Madrigal predicted [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/bruce-sterling-on-why-it-stopped-making-sense-to-talk-about-the-internet-in-2012/266674/ ], “Your technology will work perfectly within the silo...But it will be perfectly broken at the interfaces between itself and its competitors”, and that can only be the case if the companies control what you do both inside and outside the silo. And, finally, of course, our willingness to play ball with them—ie why I didn't want to sign into Google from my phone—has eroded in direct proportion to our trust that the data gathered by companies will be handled carefully (not abused, shared, leaked, or turned over). Right now, a large fraction of my interactions with tech companies, especially the Stacks, feel coerced.

One of the reasons why I care so much about issues of consent, besides all the obvious ones (you know, having my time wasted, my attention abused, and my personal behaviours and characteristics sold for profit) is because of the imminent rise of connected objects. It’ll be pretty challenging for designers and users to have a shared mental model of the behaviour of connected objects even if they are doing their damnedest to understand each other; bring in an coercive, nonconsensual technology culture and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to consider how terrible they could be. The day before Apple’s keynote this week, London-based Internet of Things design firm BERG announced that they were closing their doors (although I prefer to think of them as dispersing, like a blown dandelion clock). The confluence of their demise with Apple’s behaviour made me extra-sad, because BERG were one of the few companies that worked in technology that really seemed to think of their users as people. Journalist Quinn Norton recently wrote a fantastic piece on the theory and practice of politeness, "How to Be Polite...for Geeks" [https://medium.com/message/how-to-be-polite-for-geeks-86cb784983b1 ], which could just as easily be "...for Technology Companies". The Google+ 'real name' fiasco and Facebook's myriad privacy scandals could have been averted if the companies had some empathy for their users, and listened to what they said, instead of assuming that we are all Mark Zuckerbergs [http://dashes.com/anil/2010/09/the-facebook-reckoning-1.html ]. As well as laying down some Knowledge about Theory of Mind and Umwelt [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umwelt ], Quinn notes that politeness is catchy--social norms are created and enforced by what everyone does. I commute by car daily in Boston but I spent a year on sabbatical in Seattle. The traffic rules in Boston and Seattle are virtually identical, but a significant chunk of driver behaviours (in particular, the ones that earn Boston drivers the epithet of 'Massholes') are the result of social norms, tacitly condoned by most of the community. And driving is regulated a lot more closely than tech companies are.

I don’t know what it’ll take to change technology culture from one that is nonconsensual and borderline-abusive to one that is about enthusiastic consent, and it might not even be possible at this point. All I really know is that it absolutely won’t happen unless we start applying widespread social pressure to make it happen, and that I want tech companies to get their shit together before they make the leap from just being on screens to being everywhere around us."
coercion  culture  privacy  technology  consent  debchachra  2014  maciejceglowski  anildash  ethanzuckerman  jonyive  berg  berglondon  quinnnorton  google  apple  facebook  data  betsyhaibel  functionality  behavior  alexismadrigal  socialnetworks  socialmedia  mobile  phones  location  socialnorms  socialpressure  ethics  abuse  jonathanive  maciejcegłowski 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Inside Google's Secret Drone-Delivery Program - The Atlantic
"For two years, the company has been working to build flying robots that can deliver products across a city in a minute or two. An Atlantic exclusive."
alexismadrigal  2014  google  drones  droneproject  delivery  robots 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Email Is Still the Best Thing on the Internet - The Atlantic
"You can't kill email! It's the cockroach of the Internet, and I mean that as a compliment. This resilience is a good thing.

"There isn't much to sending or receiving email and that's sort of the point," observed Aaron Straup Cope, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum's Senior Engineer in Digital and Emerging Media. "The next time someone tells you email is 'dead,' try to imagine the cost of investing in their solution or the cost of giving up all the flexibility that email affords." 

Email is actually a tremendous, decentralized, open platform on which new, innovative things can and have been built. In that way, email represents a different model from the closed ecosystems we see proliferating across our computers and devices. 

Email is a refugee from the open, interoperable, less-controlled "web we lost." It's an exciting landscape of freedom amidst the walled gardens of social networking and messaging services.

Yes, email is exciting. Get excited!

* * *

For all the changes occurring around email, the experience of email itself has been transformed, too. Email is not dying, but it is being unbundled.

Because it developed early in the history of the commercial Internet, email served as a support structure for many other developments in the web's history. This has kept email vitally important, but the downside is that the average inbox in the second decade of the century had become clogged with cruft. Too many tasks were bolted on to email's simple protocols.

Looking back on these transitional years from the 2020s, email will appear to people as a grab bag of mismatched services.

Email was a newsfeed. …

Email was one's passport and identity. …

Email was the primary means of direct social communication on the Internet. …

Email was a digital package-delivery service. After FTP faded from popularity, but before Dropbox and Google Drive, email was the primary way to ship heavy digital documents around the Internet. The attachment was a key productivity tool for just about everyone, and it's hard to imagine an Internet without the ability to quickly append documents to a message. Needless to say, email is a less than ideal transmission or storage medium, relative to the new services.

Email was the primary mode of networked work communication. …

The metaphor of electronic mail never fully fit how people use e-mail. But, now, perhaps it might. Email could become a home for the kinds of communications that come in the mail: letters from actual people, bills, personalized advertisements, and periodicals.

* * *

Looking at this list of email's many current uses, it is obvious that some of these tasks will leave its domain. Each person will get to choose whether they use email as their primary identity on the web. Work and simple social messaging will keep moving to other platforms, too. The same will be true of digital delivery, where many cloud-based solutions have already proved superior.

So, what will be left of the inbox, then?

I contend email might actually become what we thought it was: an electronic letter-writing platform.

My colleague Ian Bogost pointed out to me that we've used the metaphor of the mail to describe the kind of communication that goes on through these servers. But, in reality, email did not replace letters, but all classes of communications: phone calls, in-person encounters, memos, marketing pleas, etc.

This change might be accelerated by services like Gmail's Priority Inbox, which sorts mail neatly (and automatically) into categories, or Unroll.me, which allows users to bundle incoming impersonal communications like newsletters and commercial offers into one easy custom publication.

That is to say, our inboxes are getting smarter and smarter. Serious tools are being built to help us direct and manage what was once just a chronological flow, which people dammed with inadequate organization systems hoping to survive the flood. (Remember all the folders in desktop email clients!)

It's worth noting that spam, which once threatened to overrun our inboxes, has been made invisible by more sophisticated email filtering. I received hundreds of spam emails yesterday, and yet I didn't see a single one because Gmail and my Atlantic email filtered them all neatly out of my main inbox. At the same time, the culture of botty spam spread to every other corner of the Internet. I see spam comments on every website and spam Facebook pages and spam Twitter accounts every day.

Email has gotten much smarter and easier to use, while retaining its ubiquity and interoperability. But there is no one company promoting Email (TM), so those changes have gone relatively unremarked upon.



And one last thing ... This isn't something the originators of email ever could have imagined, but: Email does mobile really well.



Email—yes, email—is one way forward for a less commercial, less centralized web, and the best thing is, this beautiful cockroach of a social network is already living in all of our homes.

Now, all we have to do is convince the kids that the real rebellion against the pressures of social media isn't to escape to the ephemerality of Snapchat, but to retreat to the private, relaxed confines of their email inboxes."
email  cv  openweb  internet  web  2014  alexismadrigal  online  networks  networkedcommunication  communication  onlinetoolkit  mobile  spam  history  future  smtp  decentralization  decentralized  open  interoperability  webwelost  aaronstraupcope  ianbogost 
august 2014 by robertogreco
2013: The Year 'the Stream' Crested - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"I am not joking when I say: it is easier to read Ulysses than it is to read the Internet. Because at least Ulysses has an end, an edge. Ulysses can be finished. The Internet is never finished.

It's hard to know when changes are happening. As someone who spends all day on the Internet, I would say that I sense it. But the evidence I can present to you is partial, incomplete, suggestive more than authoritative. In that vein, I would say that nowness is not going away, but the bundle of ideas that formed the metaphor of the The Stream is pulling apart."
2013  alexismadrigal  stream  stockandflow  stock  flow  internet  technology  web  internetasfavoritebook  internetasliterature  information  flows  reading  howweread  infooverload 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Our Favorite Poem For National Poetry Month Came From a First Grader - Studio 360
[Or as Alexis Madrigal says: "What children do to and with language is miraculous." http://tinyletter.com/intriguingthings/letters/5-intriguing-things-121

"On the last day of National Poetry Month, our favorite poem we saw all month came from an unnamed first grader:

We did the soft wind.
We danst slowly. We swrld
Aroned. We danst soft.
We lisin to the mozik.
We danst to the mozik. 
We made personal space."
poems  poetry  language  children  2014  alexismadrigal  music  dance 
may 2014 by robertogreco
On Reverse Engineering — Anthropology and Algorithms — Medium
"As a cultural anthropologist in the middle of a long-term research project on algorithmic filtering systems, I am very interested in how people think about companies like Netflix, which take engineering practices and apply them to cultural materials. In the popular imagination, these do not go well together: engineering is about universalizable things like effectiveness, rationality, and algorithms, while culture is about subjective and particular things, like taste, creativity, and artistic expression. Technology and culture, we suppose, make an uneasy mix. When Felix Salmon, in his response to Madrigal’s feature, complains about “the systematization of the ineffable,” he is drawing on this common sense: engineers who try to wrangle with culture inevitably botch it up.

Yet, in spite of their reputations, we always seem to find technology and culture intertwined. The culturally-oriented engineering of companies like Netflix is a quite explicit case, but there are many others. Movies, for example, are a cultural form dependent on a complicated system of technical devices — cameras, editing equipment, distribution systems, and so on. Technologies that seem strictly practical — like the Māori eel trap pictured above—are influenced by ideas about effectiveness, desired outcomes, and interpretations of the natural world, all of which vary cross-culturally. We may talk about technology and culture as though they were independent domains, but in practice, they never stay where they belong. Technology’s straightforwardness and culture’s contingency bleed into each other.

This can make it hard to talk about what happens when engineers take on cultural objects. We might suppose that it is a kind of invasion: The rationalizers and quantifiers are over the ridge! They’re coming for our sensitive expressions of the human condition! But if technology and culture are already mixed up with each other, then this doesn’t make much sense. Aren’t the rationalizers expressing their own cultural ideas? Aren’t our sensitive expressions dependent on our tools? In the present moment, as companies like Netflix proliferate, stories trying to make sense of the relationship between culture and technology also proliferate. In my own research, I examine these stories, as told by people from a variety of positions relative to the technology in question. There are many such stories, and they can have far-reaching consequences for how technical systems are designed, built, evaluated, and understood."



"So what does “reverse engineering” mean? What kind of things can be reverse engineered? What assumptions does reverse engineering make about its objects? Like any frame, reverse engineering constrains as well as enables the presentation of certain stories. I want to suggest here that, while reverse engineering might be a useful strategy for figuring out how an existing technology works, it is less useful for telling us how it came to work that way. Because reverse engineering starts from a finished technical object, it misses the accidents that happened along the way — the abandoned paths, the unusual stories behind features that made it to release, moments of interpretation, arbitrary choice, and failure. Decisions that seemed rather uncertain and subjective as they were being made come to appear necessary in retrospect. Engineering looks a lot different in reverse."



"All engineering mixes culture and technology. Even Madrigal’s “reverse engineering” does not stay put in technical bounds: he supplements the work of his bot by talking with people, drawing on their interpretations and offering his own, reading the altgenres, populated with serendipitous algorithmic accidents, as “a window unto the American soul.” Engineers, reverse and otherwise, have cultural lives, and these lives inform their technical work. To see these effects, we need to get beyond the idea that the technical and the cultural are necessarily distinct. But if we want to understand the work of companies like Netflix, it is not enough to simply conclude that culture and technology — humans and computers — are mixed. The question we need to answer is how."
algorithms  culture  engineering  netflix  nickseaver  anthropology  reverseengineering  alexismadrigal  nicholasdiakopoulos  technology  invention  2014 
march 2014 by robertogreco
American Aqueduct: The Great California Water Saga - The Atlantic
"A $25 billion plan, a small town, and a half-century of wrangling over the most important resource in the biggest state"



"It is an audacious plan, one that seems to come from another era, where governments were more ambitious in their transformation of the natural world. Brown explicitly invoked this grand spirit in unveiling an early version of the plan in mid 2012."
water  california  infrastructure  politics  2014  alexismadrigal  history  resources  government  publicworks 
february 2014 by robertogreco
@HistoryInPics, @HistoricalPics, @History_Pics: Why the wildly popular Twitter accounts are bad for history.
["“I know what this is!” vs “I wonder what this is about?” - @rebeccaonion on shallow history vs historical discovery." https://twitter.com/samplereality/status/431435603029540865

"We need more things in this world that make us end our sentences in question marks instead of exclamation points." https://twitter.com/samplereality/status/431436258888679424 ]

"These caveats aside, Werner’s cry—“These accounts piss me off because they undermine an enterprise I value”—resonates deeply with me. Lack of attribution for the artists who took the photos these accounts use is only the beginning of the problem. By failing to provide context, offering a repetitive and restricted view of what “history” is, and never linking to the many real historical resources available on the Web, these accounts strip history of the truly fun parts: curiosity, detective work, and discovery.



"Attribution, meanwhile, isn’t just about giving credit to a creator. A historical document was produced by somebody, at some time, under certain conditions. To historians these details, and the questions they provoke, are what give historical documents dimension. As John Overholt, the curator of early modern books and manuscripts at Harvard’s Houghton Library (and an avid Twitterer and Tumblrer), said to me via email:
Every image is also an artifact—it has a creator, a context, and, in the era of film photography at least, a physical original that sits in a repository somewhere. Divorced from all that metadata, a stream of historical images is always going to be a shallow experience.

By not linking to sources or context, history pic accounts create an impression of history as a glossy, impervious façade."



"When she posted her rant on the history-pics phenomenon, the Folger’s Sarah Werner received pushback on Twitter, and was accused of being “against fun.” But a critique of this mode of history-on-Twitter is actually the opposite of elitist schoolmarmery. By posting the same types of photographs over and over and omitting context and links, these accounts are robbing readers of the joy of the historical rabbit hole—and they’re taking a dim, condescending view of the public’s appetite for complexity and breadth of interest.

In my capacity as blogger for the Vault, I spend a lot of time in (free!) digital archives, on the blogs of libraries and museums, and on sites produced by historians working inside and outside of the academy. A delirious pleasure of historical inquiry, on- and offline, lies in the twists and turns: You think you’re writing about children’s encyclopedias from the 1920s, and at the end of the day you’re researching the primatologist Robert Yerkes. This joy is easier than ever for anyone to experience, given the ever-growing body of linked information and original documents available on the Web.

I’m under no illusion that every blog reader follows the links I include to the archives where I find documents, or that every Twitter follower clicks on the links I put in @SlateVault tweets. But if they do, and they land in a digital archive or on a blog, they might see a slider pointing to related documents, a right rail with links to intriguing past posts, or an appealing subject heading. Or, they might decide to plug some of the information they find into Google Books, and see whether anything fun surfaces.

My hope is that I’m providing a starting point, not an end point, with each post. I never know for sure if what sparks my own curiosity will kindle a similar fire with readers, but if it does, I want readers to be able to pursue the subject beyond the confines of my short posts and tweets. The history-pics accounts give no impression of even knowing this web of legitimate, varied historical content exists. Given their huge follower counts, this is a missed opportunity—for their readers, and for the historians and archivists who would thrill to larger audiences for their work."
2014  history  curiosity  rebeccaonion  sarahwerner  @HistoryInPics  @HistoricalPics  @History_Pics  johnoverholt  questioning  askingquestions  attribution  context  mattnovak  truth  twitter  alexismadrigal  discovery  learning  complexity  artifacts  bestpractices  tumblr  research  howweshare  internet  web  online  questionasking 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Your Job, Their Data: The Most Important Untold Story About the Future - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"My colleague Don Peck has an unnerving feature in this month's magazine on precisely this issue: "They're Watching You At Work." I highly encourage you to absorb this tale's anecdotes and data. 

After reading it, your gut may feel optimistic, like his, or queasy, like mine. Because the "Moneyballing" of human resources and corporate management has already begun, and who is going to stop it? 

Peck's reporting turned up some amazing/horrifying details about the current prevalence of data-driven corporate practices. For example, he writes, "The Las Vegas casino Harrah’s tracks the smiles of the card dealers and waitstaff on the floor (its analytics team has quantified the impact of smiling on customer satisfaction)." 

Maybe that's nice from a bottom-line perspective, but imagine working at Harrah's: "Hey, Alexis, your smile ratio was down today. Keep those lip corners up, buddy!"

Do we want to live in that world? 

As we reported this week, American truck drivers will soon have all their miles logged by electronic devices. Though safer roads are the nominal goal, no one really disputes that the data on braking or fuel efficiency might be used for other things (like hiring and firing decisions). 

Corporations already have so much power relative to their workers. And the data — because they're the ones generating it — only seems likely to enhance that imbalance. At least that's how I see it."
donpeck  alexismadrigal  hiring  humanresources  work  data  evaluation  2013 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Cloudy With a Chance of Beer - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"The Weather Company’s Vikram Somaya talks about why marketers are clamoring for weather data."
vikramsomaya  alexismadrigal  local  hyperlocal  advertising  2013  weather  data 
november 2013 by robertogreco
What Internet.org's Stirring Video Cut From the Kennedy Speech It Quotes - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"And that's really the point here: Don't pretend to be saints. We are not stupid.

Because the narrow scope of Internet.org's actual mission sounds both reasonable and, perhaps, attainable, given the 60-year decrease in costs associated with all semiconductor-based technologies.

Not even a grump could take issue with an industry trying to make itself cheaper, so that more people could use its products.

But that's only one level of what Internet.org is trying to do. The public facing-side of Internet.org is not satisfied with looking and sounding like an industry collaboration to increase technical efficiency. It's also working at an ideological level to reinforce the idea that connectedness means peace, that Internet access means progress (or even Progress), that working for a tech company is about making the world a better place. 

At some point, it may (may) have made sense to associate Facebook with peace. But that time is over. 

The thing is: People love the Internet, and they'll hop on it if it's available, even given all privacy concerns. The tech business is safe. But its leaders also want our adulation. 

And we shouldn't have to worship web products, or the people who make them, or the values they hold, to use the Internet."
2013  alexismadrigal  internet.org  sainthood  markzuckerberg  facebook  internet  web  online  digitaldivide  quoteoutofcontext  context  jfk  technosolutionism  silverbullets  politics  policy  worldpeace  whitewashing  ideology  connectiveness  adulation 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Machine Zone: This Is Where You Go When You Just Can't Stop Looking at Pictures on Facebook - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"What an anthropologist's examination of Vegas slot machines reveals about the hours we spend on social networks"



"In Schüll's book, Addiction by Design, a gambler named Lola tells her: "I'm almost hypnotized into being that machine. It's like playing against yourself: You are the machine; the machine is you."

There's that word again: hypnotized, like Stone's grandmother. Many gamblers used variations on the phrase. "To put the zone into words," Schüll writes, "the gamblers I spoke with supplemented an exotic, nineteenth-century terminology of hypnosis and magnetism with twentieth-century references to television watching, computer processing, and vehicle driving.""



"When we get wrapped up in a repetitive task on our computers, I think we can enter some softer version of the machine zone. Obviously, if you're engaged in banter with friends or messaging your mom on Facebook, you're not in that zone. If you're reading actively and writing poems on Twitter, you're not in that zone. If you're making art on Tumblr, you're not in that zone. The machine zone is anti-social, and it's characterized by a lack of human connection. You might be looking at people when you look through photos, but your interactions with their digital presences are mechanical, repetitive, and reinforced by computerized feedback. "



"It just so happens that the user behavioral patterns that are most profitable for Facebook and other social networks are precisely the patterns that they've interpreted to mean that people love them. It's almost as if they determined what would be most profitable and then figured out how to justify that as serving user needs.

But I actually don't believe that. You can say many things about the entrepreneurs, designers, and coders who create social networking companies, but they believe in what they do. They're more likely to be ideologues than craven financial triangulators. And they spend all day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest, too. I bet they know the machine zone, too. And that's why I have hope they might actually stop designing traps.

In any case, fighting the great nullness at the heart of these coercive loops should be one of the goals of technology design, use, and criticism.

In the great tradition of the Valley, we'll make a t-shirt: Just Say No To The Machine Zone."

[Related: http://seriouspony.com/blog/2013/7/24/your-app-makes-me-fat ]
alexismadrigal  2013  culture  internet  facebook  twitter  tumblr  zone  attention  addiction  socialmedia  socialnetworks  machinezone  natashaschüll  slotmachines  hypnosis  flow  mihalycsikszentmihalyi 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Why Do Women Disapprove of Drone Strikes So Much More Than Men Do? - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"When it comes to drones, men are from Mars and women are from some other planet not named after the Roman God of perpetual war."
drones  droneproject  2013  alexismadrigal  gender  policy  opinion 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Object Lessons
"Object Lessons is an essay and book series about the hidden lives of ordinary things, from abysses to consumers, hierarchies to histories."

"Each Object Lessons project will start from a specific inspiration: an anthropological query, ecological matter, archeological discovery, historical event, literary passage, personal narrative, philosophical speculation, technological innovation—and from there develop original insights around and novel lessons about the object in question.

Object Lessons invites contributions from scholars, writers, scientists, artists, journalists, and others. Potential topics include: rubber band, plastic bag, tornado, turpentine, wind, wall, Glock, drone, Lamborghini, flak jacket, steamboat, shoehorn, laughter, hatred, air, Google Glass, catnip, platinum, money, rebar, polyester, microchip, marriage, time machine, celebrity, Blowpop, cornbread, combine, honey, Velcro, copper wire, cruise ship, cilium, hot wing—the possibilities are quite literally endless.

SERIES EDITORS

Ian Bogost, Georgia Institute of Technology
Christopher Schaberg, Loyola University New Orleans

Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic
Haaris Naqvi, Bloomsbury Publishing"
objects  writing  storytelling  significantobjects  alexismadrigal  haarisnaqvi  christopherschaberg  ianbogost 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Why People Really Love Technology: An Interview With Genevieve Bell - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"There's something in it that you recognize as being a kind of truth. The early ideology of the Internet was about radical transparency, free information, and the sense that the consequences of that would be this sort of massive social upheaval. I sometimes think the more-interesting things are the really mundane, banal things that the Internet and digital technologies are now part of: everything from how we balance our checkbooks to how we arrange our romantic lives to how we insure that there's still a paper that gets delivered to our houses every two weeks. I'm fascinated by that piece. And the ways in which the Internet has become not just part of our romantic lives but also our spiritual and religious ones, and clearly it's part of our political landscape."

"We've been in a decade of dematerialization, all the markers of identity. You and I, when we were younger, knew how to talk about ourselves, to ourselves and others, through physical stuff--music, the books on our shelves…"
society  fear  culture  web  internet  dematerialization  haptics  tactility  japan  robots  3dprinting  geography  intel  genevievebell  alexismadrigal  2012  technology  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"tl;dr version

1. The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the 'social' iceberg. We are impressed by its scale because it's easy to measure.

2. But most sharing is done via dark social means like email and IM that are difficult to measure.

3. According to new data on many media sites, 69% of social referrals came from dark social. 20% came from Facebook.

4. Facebook and Twitter do shift the paradigm from private sharing to public publishing. They structure, archive, and monetize your publications."
icq  usenet  online  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  joshschwartz  theunseenmass  theunseen  darknet  stumbleupon  digg  ycombinator  reddit  twitter  facebook  im  email  sharing  social  history  web  socialmedia  2012  alexismadrigal  sarkmatter  darksocial  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
Detroit's Gleaming Start-Up Tower - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
For me, the narrative of Detroit has outstripped at least what I could see of Detroit. Good things are clearly happening, but the lack of connective tissue is a bigger problem than you might imagine. Between downtown and an area like Corktown, which has an excellent coffee shop, the oft-applauded Slow's BBQ, Arbor and Folly, and a couple other bars, there's just nothing. When we left Slow's on a Thursday night at 9pm to drive the couple miles to our hotel, we got about halfway when I looked in my rearview mirror and realized that there wasn't a single other car behind us, nor approaching. There were no bikes or pedestrians, either…

But I do not know that I have that sense of euphoria. The story requires a fairy tale ending. And the reality is so daunting. I can practically hear Linkner reading this and saying, "He's soft. He's not made for Detroit." And that's probably true."
rebirth  density  nathanlabenz  jaygierak  stik  joshlinkner  detroitventurepartners  dvp  dangilbert  darkeuphoria  brucesterling  cities  detroit  alexismadrigal  2012  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"As we slip and slide into a world where our augmented reality is increasingly visible to us off and online, Google's geographic data may become its most valuable asset. Not solely because of this data alone, but because location data makes everything else Google does and knows more valuable.

Or as my friend and sci-fi novelist Robin Sloan put it to me, "I maintain that this is Google's core asset. In 50 years, Google will be the self-driving car company (powered by this deep map of the world) and, oh, P.S. they still have a search engine somewhere."

Of course, they will always need one more piece of geographic information to make all this effort worthwhile: You. Where you are, that is. Your location is the current that makes Google's giant geodata machine run. They've built this whole playground as an elaborate lure for you. As good and smart and useful as it is, good luck resisting taking the bait."
cartography  alexismadrigal  google  geodata  googlestreetview  googlemaps  process  mapping  maps  2012  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Ekstasis: A Kind of Media
"An event is something you want to interact with. Events demand a certain level of participation, if only in the form of paying attention. Hooting and hollering or RTing and linking, certain situations take on a character of interactivity, for good or for ill. The gap between a mob and the crowd at a “happening” isn’t so vast. This isn’t bad, not necessarily. Instead, it’s just something we HAVE to be aware of. The “event,” online or elsewhere, is going to be a defining feature of the near future. It’s the next step in marketing and advertising, among other things and we won’t be able to escape it. “Passive” media of transmission are giving way to “active” media, that demand (at least) close attention be paid to them. This isn’t just about TV, or the internet, or sporting events, or whatever.

It’s about mediation and it’s everything.

“A crowd of people gathered together in public is a kind of media.”"
williamball  public  messaging  transmission  tv  television  alexismadrigal  photography  generativewebevent  experience  happenings  mediation  media  2011  events  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
Against TED – The New Inquiry
"TED is not simply “engaging” & “entertaining” but a specific type of entertainment that is increasingly out of touch & exclusionary.

…appears that whole TED brand induces laughter from many of those skeptical of corporate speak & techno-jargon. At first, I thought I was laughing alone; however, it turns out that lots of other people are equally unimpressed by the current state of TED…I’m not the only one who does not take TED very seriously or worse, views the whole project as suspect…

Perhaps the biggest complaint I heard was that TED smells of corporatism…

So many of the TED talks take on the form of those famous patent medicine tonic cure-all pitches of previous centuries, as though they must convince you not through the content of what’s being said but through the hyper-engaging style of the delivery…

As Mike Bulajewski pointed out in a Tweet, “TED’s ‘revolutionary ideas’ mask capitalism as usual, giving it a narrative of progress and change.”"
technology  alexismadrigal  popularity  exclusionary  exclusivity  bias  ideology  paulcurrion  mikebulajewski  evangelism  delivery  snakeoilsalesmen  2012  epistemology  corporatism  nathanjurgenson  criticism  ted 
february 2012 by robertogreco
How 'Radiolab' Is Changing the Sound of the Radio - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"What's different about Radiolab (&…changing about the web) is that it *is* a production…one of a very new kind. Radiolab is actually post-blog & post-livestream…not aping oratory of old or raggedness of new…a hybrid that takes lessons from the past, recent & deep.

That's where…web journalism is headed…"No one wants to read a 9,000-word treatise online. On the Web, one-sentence links are as legitimate as 1000-word diatribes—in fact, they are often valued more."

While this might have been true at one point, it simply no longer is…at The Atlantic, there is a very strong positive correlation between length of post & readers attracted. The genre conventions of blogging are changing. Few old-style linkblogs exist & a whole culture has developed around the longread. New online publications…look beautiful.

This is the Radiolab effect extended: expect less pretension to authority, greater understanding of one's nodeness, but greater respect for the production culture of the pre-web era."
post-livestream  post-internet  pretension  radiolabeffect  robertkrulwich  twitter  blogging  journalism  storytelling  productionvalues  authority  longformjournalism  longform  theatlantic  online  web  radio  alexismadrigal  jadabumrad  2012  radiolab  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Why I Feel Bad for the Pepper-Spraying Policeman, Lt. John Pike - Alexis Madrigal - National - The Atlantic
Structures, in the sociological sense, constrain human agency. And for that reason, I see John Pike as a casualty of the system, too. Our police forces have enshrined a paradigm of protest policing that turns local cops into paramilitary forces. Let's not pretend that Pike is an independent bad actor. Too many incidents around the country attest to the widespread deployment of these tactics. If we vilify Pike, we let the institutions off way too easy.
police  policing  alexismadrigal  ows  occupywallstreet  davis  UCD  systems  protests  brokenwindows  history  sociology  psychology  institutions  negotiatedmanagement  2011  1960s  1970s  wto  1999  9/11  strategicincapacitation  hierarchy  policy  politics  lawenforcement  alexvitale  order  disorder  violence  blackbloc  anarchism  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
#Occupy: The Tech at the Heart of the Movement - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"This essay inaugurates a series of stories on the ways that protesters have shaped technologies to fit their needs -- and how technologies opened up new space for their messages.

Let's start with what seems self-evident, but what I'm sure is more complex than it appears: Occupy is different from the protests that preceded it. To be honest, I'm not sure anyone can explain why. The list of factors contributing to its outstanding run is long: economic circumstances, a distance from the enforced patriotism that followed 9/11, disappointment on the left with Obama's presidency, the failure to adequately regulate banks, the neverending foreclosure crisis, the Adbusters provenance, severe cuts to social programs at the state and local level, the language of occupation, and the prolonged nature of the engagement.

But among those factors, technology plays a central role…"
ows  occupywallstreet  technology  2011  alexismadrigal  habitsofmind  twitter  socialmedia  facebook  protests  organization  networks  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  corporatism  news  communication  coordination  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
How to Build the Pixar of the iPad Age in Shreveport, Louisiana - Technology - The Atlantic
As you get closer, the landscape gets scrubbier, with empty lots separating the buildings like gaps in a smile. A man may walk down the street in welding gear. Pull into the parking lot of BioSpaceX, a shiny new building originally intended to house biotechnology startups. Walk through the doors. You're at Moonbot.
moonbot  sarahrich  alexismadrigal  creativity  ipad  books  pixar  shreveport  louisiana  2011  brandonoldenburg  billjoyce  williamjoyce  art  illustration  lamptonenochs  christinaellis  storytelling  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
Quarterly Co.™
"…new way to connect w/ the people you follow & find interesting. We spend so much of our lives connecting w/ people online that we forget the value of tangible interactions that happen in the real world. Quarterly wants to bridge that gap by allowing anyone to subscribe to influential contributors and get physical items in the mail from them. It is like a magazine, but instead of receiving words on a page, our subscribers receive actual items that tell a compelling story crafted and narrated by the contributor.

What kind of stuff will I get? A blend of original, exclusive, & consumer items that are timeless, practical, exciting, & fly under the radar. We don’t want to fill up your house w/ clutter, & we’re mindful of the waste that each of us generate every day. But we also recognize that consumption isn’t inherently bad, it’s just a matter of making smarter choices about the things we surround ourselves with.

Each product should reflect on the person who selected it…"
design  quarterly  retail  subscriptions  geoffmanaugh  mariapopova  tinarotheisenberg  swissmiss  alexismadrigal  lizdanzico  shopping  gifts  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Pasta&Vinegar » Blog Archive » The graphing calculator plateau
"This piece in The Atlantic by Alexis Madrigal deals with an interesting case in technological evolution: the stabilization of a technical objects, which in this case in the so-called graphing calculator."
technology  calculators  math  education  science  nicolasnova  tools  plateaus  2011  alexismadrigal  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Video: Deducing the Physics of How Cats Fall - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"You know when a cat falls, it always lands on its feet. Thomas Kane was the kind of scientist who saw a cat fall and wanted to deduce the biophysics of the trick. In a series of experiments, he dropped cats and photographed them at high-speed, then broke their movements down into mathematics. Then, he had a trampolinist (in a spacesuit!) perform similar motions to imitate the feline. The images of the cat appeared in LIFE Magazine and the International Journal of Solids and Structures. In the latter, Kane's model of the phenomenon is superimposed on Ralph Crane's photographs."
physics  cats  thomaskane  2011  alexismadrigal  humans  space  science  animals  falling  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Crazy: 90 Percent of People Don't Know How to Use CTRL+F - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"This week, I talked with Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google, about the time he spends with random people studying how they search for stuff. One statistic blew my mind. 90 percent of people in their studies don't know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or web page! I probably use that trick 20 times per day and yet the vast majority of people don't use it at all.

"90 percent of the US Internet population does not know that. This is on a sample size of thousands," Russell said. "I do these field studies and I can't tell you how many hours I've sat in somebody's house as they've read through a long document trying to find the result they're looking for. At the end I'll say to them, 'Let me show one little trick here,' and very often people will say, 'I can't believe I've been wasting my life!'""
internet  productivity  google  computers  danrussell  alexismadrigal  search  find  text  computing  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
The art of working in public « Snarkmarket ["Work in public. Reveal nothing."]
"…two very different dudes…different positions…different objectives…both written in essentially the same style, with common characteristics both superficial—a smart but very informal voice that reads like a long email from your smartest coolest friend ever—& structural:

…both conjure a sense that the piece is almost being written as you read it…slightly chaotic & totally thrilling…both let you inside their heads…But!—they don’t let you all the way inside. There’s plenty withheld…here’s the genius of the style: they don’t tell you much at all…

I tend to zero in on this kind of writing because I aspire to do more of it myself, & to do it better. Working in public like this can be a lot of fun, for writer & reader alike, but more than that: it can be a powerful public good…When you work in public, you create an emissary (media cyborg style) that then walks the earth, teaching others to do your kind of work as well. And that is transcendently cool."

[See the great comments too.]

[See also Clive Thompson's post, which references this one: http://www.collisiondetection.net/mt/archives/2011/08/the_art_of_publ.php ]
writing  business  public  robinsloan  publicthinking  mattwebb  berg  berglondon  alexismadrigal  classideas  transparency  surprise  revelation  style  newliberalarts  chaos  publicgood  learning  teaching  mediacyborgs  sharing  web  internet  informality  balance  spontaneity  immediacy  thinkinginpublic  thinkingoutloud  2011  comments  questions  possibility  pondering  emptiness  workinginpublic  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Bradley Manning, the Person: The Making of the World's Most Notorious Leaker - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"Manning finally felt like himself, like he didn't have to hide anything. "i mean, i dont think its normal for people to spend this much time worrying about whether they're behaving masculine enough, whether what they're going to say is going to be perceived as 'gay'... not to mention how i feel about the situation..." he wrote. "for whatever reason, im not comfortable with myself... i mean, i behave and look like a male, but its not 'me'"

It's incredible to think that as Manning was allegedly passing off the biggest data leak in US government history, he was experimenting with a different kind of transparency and public display of previously secret information. He rode the Acela. He went into gas stations to buy cigarettes. He did normal things.

A few months later, after Lamo told military officials he knew about Manning, Manning was arrested and he's been held ever since. He's awaiting a trial to find out if he'll be courtmartialed."
bradleymanning  adrianlamo  wikileaks  2011  identity  alexismadrigal  conscience  society  sexuality  exploitation  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
What Big Media Can Learn From the New York Public Library - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"Despite looming budget cuts, the library is flourishing and putting out some of the most innovative online projects in the country"

"The lions guarded the doors when the main branch of the New York Public Library was dedicated in May of 1911 and they watch over it still, rather haughtily looking over the heads of visitors to one of the world's great libraries. Yet over the last 100 years, and particularly over the last 10, everything about the storage and dissemination of knowledge has changed. The lions still guard the building, but the information's gone out the back door, metastasizing in the new chemistry of the Internet.

With all this change -- not to mention a possible $40 million budget cut looming -- it would be no surprise if the library was floundering like the music industry, newspapers, or travel agents. (Hey, man, we all get disintermediated sooner or later.) But that's the wild thing. The library isn't floundering. Rather, it's flourishing, putting out some of the most innovative online projects in the country. On the stuff you can measure -- library visitors, website visitors, digital gallery images viewed -- the numbers are up across the board compared with five years ago. On the stuff you can't, like conceptual leadership, the NYPL is killing it."
internet  history  nyc  newyorkpubliclibrary  nypl  media  2011  alexismadrigal  bigmedia  innovation  libraries 
june 2011 by robertogreco
49 Classics of Mid-Century Design We Need Your Help Identifying - Alexis Madrigal - Life - The Atlantic
"Collectors covet mid-century design for a reason: The clean lines and bright colors of the 1950s are beautiful. But there was more to the era's design considerations. The burst of creative energy that followed World War II spurred consumption by creating an endless array of new products, and when those were in short supply, new forms (and colors) for old products. The production of beauty was placed in the service of consumerism and anti-communism.

American Look showcases this design-industrial complex of ideas in beautiful Technicolor. Created in 1958 by the Jam Handy Organization, a large commercial filmmaking concern, with funding from Chevrolet, the 23-minute film surveys the landscape of late-50s aspirational life from interior dining sets to new work machines to speed boats. Taken together, the objects in the film paint a portrait of the variety of things that only American capitalism could deliver."
design  video  film  documentary  alexismadrigal  modernism  furniture  industrialdesign  2011  consumerism  us  mid-centurymodern  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Revealing the Man Behind @MayorEmanuel - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"It was the best fake Twitter account ever, deftly satirizing Rahm Emanuel, and elevating the Tweet and the f-word to the level of literature. But the mystery writer was never revealed - until now"

"That moment was both when we caught the first glimmer of intelligence smoldering in the mayor. Not just anyone quotes Mamet's American Buffalo back at FakeDavidMamet. And maybe that quote could be seen as the key to @MayorEmanuel's twisted narrative. It's only tweets, unless they're motherfucking true.

Of course, nothing he said ever actually happened. But crazily enough, a fake account sputtering out 140-character jabs in the voice of a lampooned major political figure somehow tunneled to wherever it is that the realest reality is kept and pulled it out, soaked with beer, covered in celery salt, and laced with profanity. His tweets were true like a joke or a dream or a three-chord song about sniffing glue."
twitter  politics  socialmedia  @mayoremanuel  chicago  humor  alexismadrigal  literature  microblogging  mayoremanuel  danielsinker  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Inside Story of How Facebook Responded to Tunisian Hacks - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"Does Facebook have to go the extra mile to support activists? …preliminary work has been done to create a special complaint reporting process for NGOs & other activists…

…certainly don't seem to be under any obligations to provide special treatment. But if Facebook really is becoming the public sphere—& wants to remain central to people's real sociopolitically embedded lives—maybe they're going to have to think beyond the situational technical fix. Facebook needs to own its position as a part of The Way the World Works & provide protections for political speech & actors.

…protests & overthrow of Ben Ali were just beginning of story. Hopes are high, but…so many times in global south, exit of one corrupt dictator usually means entrance of another. To avoid that fate, politically active Tunisians will be using all of tools at disposal, including & maybe especially, Facebook. In fact, Rim said, it's already being used to debate how to create a new government & a better Tunisia."
facebook  security  privacy  tunisia  2011  alexismadrigal  internet  politics  socialsoftware  socialnetworking  activism  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
Eight Successful People Doing Exactly What They Want - Business - GOOD
"“Someone once accused us of doing nothing but following our whims to their every logical & illogical conclusion,” Jim Coudal says. That is, more or less, exactly right…

Coudal makes physical products, internet tools, & other oddities, any number of which will suck up an entire afternoon if you stumble upon coudal.com. That is perhaps the best way to describe the 50-year-old: He’s a master of the type of ephemera you would probably be playing with if you didn’t have to do your own job…When Coudal Partners started to execute its own ideas, the firm became its own favorite client. “The way we describe what we are now is we are a creative-design and advertising firm with no clients.

“We’re of the school that if you have an idea that you think might work, the answer is not to talk about it for four weeks. The answer is to try it & see what happens,” he says. “If it goes down in flames, that’s fun too.” "

[Also profiles of Alexis Madrigal, Emily Pilloton, Geoff Manaugh, among others.]
jimcoudal  alexismadrigal  emilypilloton  geoffmanaugh  bldgblog  projecth  projecthdesign  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Community and Context: Thoughts on Closing Comments - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"I don't want to rule out ever turning off comments again, but I do know that we'd execute very differently. Oddly, I'm heartened that we've developed enough of a reputation as an open and good place to talk about technology that the inability to interact on the site is perceived as an "epic fail," as one reader told me. We are a community now; certain rules have emerged.

And here's the other lesson I learned, which may be more generalizable. I'm an experimenter and so are many of the staffers here at The Atlantic. We've been tremendously lucky that most of the things we've tried have worked. But you don't always experiment for the good times. You need to have things not work sometimes. There's nothing like a (very) public learning experience to focus the mind on the things that matter for your site."
community  commenting  alexismadrigal  theatlantic  online  blogging  transparency  jaronlanier  wikileaks  tinkering  failure  experimentation  learning  trust  interaction  discussion  jayrosen  patricklaforge  internet  web  2010  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
How to Think About WikiLeaks - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"In the days since WikiLeaks began releasing a small percentage of its cache of 250,000 cables sent by State Department officials, many people have tried to think through the event's implications for politics, media, and national security.

Writers pulling at the knot of press freedom, liberty, nationalism, secrecy and security that sits at the center of the debate have produced dozens of fantastic pieces. We're collecting the very best here. This page will be updated often. New links will be floated near the top of this list.

Send suggestions to amadrigal[at]theatlantic.com."
wikileaks  politics  censorship  technology  information  2010  cablegate  alexismadrigal  compilations  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Literary Writers and Social Media: A Response to Zadie Smith - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"When professional writers, especially ones trained in the literary arts, see horrifically bad writing online, they recoil. All their training about the value of diverse (or, you know, heteroglossic) societies and the equality of classes goes flying out the window. Social media acts as a kind of truth serum, as Marshall Kirkpatrick likes to say: This is how the masses of people talk. This is how the masses of people write. Not moonlighting bloggers. Not the 20 million NPR listeners. But the other 300 million people trying to LOL their way through boring days at office jobs or in Iraq.

I think we confuse the ability to see what everyday writing looks like -- and probably has for a long time -- with a change in how people write. Toss in that the traditional (usually religious) practices and sayings around serious topics like death or childbearing have lost valence, and you get people just saying what comes to mind. It's not always pretty."
zadiesmith  alexismadrigal  writing  writers  reality  thesocialnetwork  facebook  socialmedia  theory  colloquialwriting  snobbery  insularity  everydaywriting  literature  media  immaturity  perspective  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
7 Essential Skills You Didn't Learn in College | Magazine
"1. Statistical Literacy: Making sense of today’s data-driven world.
2. Post-State Diplomacy: Power and politics, sans government.
3. Remix Culture: Samples, mashups, and mixes.
4. Applied Cognition: The neuroscience you need.
5. Writing for New Forms: Self-expression in 140 characters.
6. Waste Studies: Understanding end-to-end economics.
7. Domestic Tech: How to use the world as your lab."
arts  culture  education  wired  learning  lifehacks  skills  unschooling  deschooling  statistics  literacy  post-statediplomacy  diplomacy  remix  remixculture  appliedcognition  cognition  neuroscience  writing  twitter  microblogging  waste  saulgriffith  fabbing  science  diy  make  making  rogerebert  nassimtaleb  davidkilcullen  robertrauschenberg  jillboltetaylor  brain  barryschwartz  jonahlehrer  robinsloan  alexismadrigal  newliberalarts  remixing  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
SunChips and Supercapitalism - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"Competition in the snack chip market has reached such a level that the molecular composition of the chip-containing bag as reflected in the magnitude of its sound could cause a firm to lose customers!

This is a miniature portrait of Robert Reich's hyper-competitive supercapitalism at work. And though it is fundamentally a silly story, it's not only a silly story."
consumerism  food  packaging  us  frito-lay  supercapitalism  capitalism  alexismadrigal  competition  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books - Science and Tech - The Atlantic
[Great question: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/6155/comment-page-1#comment-13172 ]

"1. The phrase "reading revolution" was probably coined by German historian Rolf Engelsing. He certainly made it popular. Engelsing was trying to describe something he saw in the 18th century: a shift from "intensive" reading and re-reading of very few texts to "extensive" reading of many, often only once. Think of reading the Bible vs reading the newspaper. Engelsing called this shift a "Lesenrevolution," lesen being the German equivalent of reading. He thought he had found when modern reading emerged, as we'd recognize it today, and that it was this shift that effectively made us modern readers. …"

[More here http://snarkmarket.com/2010/6155
and, on the images, here: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/6161 ]
books  ebooks  history  literacy  media  print  publishing  reading  writing  timcarmody  alexismadrigal  change  revolutions  classideas  cv  readinghabits  howwework  learning  gamechanging  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
How Mobile Devices Could Lead to More City Living - Science and Tech - The Atlantic
"mobile devices tapping on wireless networks can exert a powerful social influence, as we've all noticed. They could help tip the scales towards denser city living, or at least shorter commutes, for the wired workforce."
alexismadrigal  transmobility  cars  commuting  masstransit  density  cities  urban  urbanism  mobile  phones  mobiledevices  transportation  media  technology  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Thoreau's Walden Is 156 Years Old Today, but Relevant as Ever - Science and Tech - The Atlantic
"In a country where so many gamely adopt the latest new gadget, we need our Thoreaus, not to stop the profusion of technology, but simply to remind us to use them well. There are spaces shot through our massively complex society to find "Simplicity! Simplicity! Simplicity!" by simply deciding to look for it.

Take another grave and important personality of the time, Abraham Lincoln. His views on technology, delivered in a series of speeches on "Discoveries and Inventions" in the years directly after Thoreau's Walden, were more positive. For Lincoln, technology did not debase humanity, as Thoreau would have contended, but it also wasn't a magical staircase leading to a better world under the label of Progress."
alexismadrigal  thoreau  technology  progress  simplicity  luddism  abrahamlincoln  walden  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad Blueprint for a Post-Literate Future - Science and Tech - The Atlantic
"The slowness of books, the habits of mind they build, Shteyngart suggests, may be a key to knowing what it's like to be inside oneself, not part of the crowd or the audience or Twitterverse. "Reading is difficult," Lenny says to Eunice. "People just aren't meant to read anymore. We're in a post-literate age. You know, a visual age."…

We all have a million reasons for why we don't use the gadget & stream for what they are good for, and then put them away sometimes to take a walk or read a book. Instead we reload, reload, reload. Refresh!…

"This is all happening too fast. I can't adjust as a human being to what's required of me digitally. The analog part of me is like grains of sand: it's all slipping away."

Gary the man is perhaps the best argument for his book. He is hilarious and true, but he can't deliver us something that transcends our moment in real-time. The Gary Shteyngart Show might be shticky or interesting or smart, but it would not be Super Sad True Love Story."
books  culture  future  literature  psychology  technology  iphone  alexismadrigal  garyshteyngart  supersadtruelovestory  collapse  post-literacy  slow  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Helplessness of a Father in the Internet Age - Science and Tech - The Atlantic
"A few days ago, an 11-year-old posted a video of herself responding to online critics with a foul-mouthed piece of little girl bravado. She was so profane and mildly amusing that she became, in Gawker's words, a "microcelebrity among Internet tween scenesters."

[See also: http://gawker.com/5589721/ ]
alexismadrigal  parenting  internet  teens  children  online  youtube  bullying  4chan  society  ignorance  helplessness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The new utility belt « Snarkmarket
"While we’re out scour­ing San Diego that after­noon, our allies leap into action. Fin­ished images are appear­ing in real-time. Every few min­utes I’ll check the Drop­box app on my iPhone, see some­thing new, announce it to the group, and every­one will gather around the tiny screen and ooh and ahh...This is the new utility belt: Twitter...Google Docs...Dropbox...So if these are the tools, what are the skills? Jane McGo­ni­gal has already fig­ured this out. She calls them the ten col­lab­o­ra­tion super­pow­ers. And in par­tic­u­lar, I think the first three are key:

* Mob­ba­bil­ity: the abil­ity to do real-time work in very large groups; a tal­ent for coor­di­nat­ing with many peo­ple simultaneously.
* Coop­er­a­tion radar: the abil­ity to sense, almost intu­itively, who would make the best col­lab­o­ra­tors on a par­tic­u­lar task.
* Ping quo­tient: mea­sures your respon­sive­ness to other people’s requests for engagement."
snarkmarket  dropbox  googledocs  twitter  socialnetworking  crowdsourcing  collaboration  robinsloan  storytelling  socialnetworks  technology  tools  onlinetoolkit  writing  thenewutilitybelt  tcsnmy  cv  shelldrake  tcsnmy7  sandiego  journalism  normalheights  alexismadrigal 
april 2010 by robertogreco
48 Hour Magazine
"Welcome to 48 Hour Magazine, a raucous experiment in using new tools to erase media's old limits. As the name suggests, we're going to write, photograph, illustrate, design, edit, and ship a magazine in two days.

Here's how it works: Issue Zero begins May 7th. We'll unveil a theme and you'll have 24 hours to produce and submit your work. We'll take the next 24 to snip, mash and gild it. The end results will be a shiny website and a beautiful glossy paper magazine, delivered right to your old-fashioned mailbox. We promise it will be insane. Better yet, it might even work."
heatherchamp  derekpowazek  alexismadrigal  sarahrich  mathewhonan  dylanfareed  magazines  crowdsourcing  collaborative  publishing  2010 
april 2010 by robertogreco

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