robertogreco + charlieloyd   59

Could California's Camp Fire Have Been Avoided? - The Atlantic
[originally here: https://tinyletter.com/vruba/letters/6-90-sauce ]

"Disasters are never natural in the ordinary sense because they always could have been avoided or mitigated by human choices. In this way of thinking, everything that we call a disaster started as a hazard, and hazards themselves are only risks, not harms. If and how hazards become disasters is shaped by governmental, infrastructural, and economic choices, conscious or unconscious."



"Disasters are never natural in the ordinary sense because they always could have been avoided or mitigated by human choices. In this way of thinking, everything that we call a disaster started as a hazard, and hazards themselves are only risks, not harms. If and how hazards become disasters is shaped by governmental, infrastructural, and economic choices, conscious or unconscious.

If this sounds like I’m saying we should blame the government for disasters, like medieval peasants who believe that a flood means the king has lost the mandate of heaven and must lack virtue, I’m not. Nor am I saying that the government (or the economic system, or whatever) is strictly to blame for every bad thing. I’m saying that if we set up an institution to control floods, and rightly give it credit when it does well, it’s equally to blame when it does poorly. This isn’t subtle; it’s what we mean by responsibility. And there are historians now who read the old idea of the mandate of heaven and “moral meteorology” not only as a farmers’ superstition but also as an oblique way to say things like: The king didn’t use the massive hydrological infrastructure at his disposal to mitigate the effects of what could have been merely unusually heavy rain. He’s a bad administrator. Or, if you prefer, heaven finds him lacking in virtue.

California and the United States are, of course, strikingly well-governed in some ways and strikingly badly governed in others. Our disasters follow. The air quality in the Bay Area right now is a hazard; a society that can’t manage to distribute good air filters to everyone who needs to be outside, and allows everyone else to stay inside, is a disaster. The poorest suffer the most. This is so true that it’s almost redundant. Poverty in any useful sense isn’t net worth in dollars. It’s more like a high ratio of personal disasters to personal hazards. Will a toothache, a hazard, turn into an untreated infection, a disaster? Will being caught jaywalking, a hazard, turn into a felony record, a disaster? Will getting sick turn into losing your job? When we point out that homeless people suffer particularly badly from the smoke, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t some kind of sad coincidence—wow, homeless and at risk from the air!—it’s why we care about homelessness in the first place. A house is one of many machines for mitigating hazards.

The Black Saturday fires destroyed entire towns and killed 180 people near metropolitan Melbourne, Australia, not quite a decade ago. The comparisons are easy. Survivors talked about the speed of the fire there too—how you could be preparing to evacuate one minute and surrounded by flames the next. Many people in those hills died defending their houses, with garden hoses and buckets, against unsurvivable heat. I expect that happened here too. After the Black Saturday fires, a lot of experts were exasperated by survivors rebuilding what had been destroyed, most famously the little town of Marysville. Don’t people realize the fires will be back? The experts are right about the fires but wrong about the people. Everything we make is temporary, and some will choose to live under trees even knowing they’ll burn. The rest of us can roll our eyes, but we do it from places where we know there will be another hurricane, another earthquake, another heat wave, mass shooting, death in custody, cancer. Everyone spends a lifetime doing things that will end."



"The closest thing we have to infinity is sustainability, a word secretly disliked by many people who use it most. Sustainability for Californian forests is a fairly clear concept, because it’s been tried for 10,000 years. Fire is hard to govern. A serious program of controlled wildland fires in California would surely collapse the first time one got out of control—and one would, because fire does—and burned down someone’s property. It asks a lot of anyone to see a house’s destruction in a fire set by someone wearing a uniform as really necessary.

We can’t switch over to some perfectly sustainable, traditional ecological knowledge–based fire-management regime tomorrow. We have already built houses among trees. The forest we know today is different from the forest that was sustained. It’s been changed by policies of fire suppression and intense logging. It will have to slowly become something sustainable, and only then could that future forest, which none of us has ever seen, be sustained.

And, of course, the climate is changing. Summer is hotter and drier now. What worked well for the entire Holocene epoch may not work at all in the Anthropocene. And the ideal forest strategy in 2018’s climate will not be ideal in 2068’s, at least the way we’re going. So it comes back to taking carbon out of the air. We all knew that already. I think this must be one reason California’s fires are especially fearsome to many Americans: because the idea of California is often subtly an idea of the future.

I hear people say with disgust that these smoky days are the new normal. But the forests burned every year, in vast areas, though in cooler, slower, individually smaller fires, up until the genocides of European settlements. The nearly smokeless summers that my parents’ generation can talk about weren’t the system at equilibrium; they were already an effect of unsustainable imbalance. The oldest Californians living can’t remember the kind of forest we’ll need for the future. If we don’t want the kind of fire we have today—the kind that kills whole families—and if we don’t want to cut down all the plants and be done with the unpredictability of nonhuman life, we’ll still be left with fires. Safer fires, but smoky fires.

So there will be some ash-tasting days in the happiest future I can imagine for California. The air will be chemically fairly similar to today’s, but it will smell different. For now, here in Oakland we’re breathing the consequences of the 20th century, and trying not to forget that this kind of air is ordinary for millions upon millions of people who live around coal power plants."
charlieloyd  2018  california  fires  risk  hazards  climatechange  wilfdires  disasters  anthropocene  forests  forestmanagement  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Charlie Loyd on Vimeo
"Far and Smooth – “Popadantsy” is what Russian fandom calls accidental travelers in time and space. On the internet, we’re all popadantsy, and one of the wormholes is satellite imagery – a way of seeing that’s gone from top secret to our phones in a generation. Charlie Loyd has been working with satellite images, and this talk is partly a report on how weird they are. From there he cruises around themes of distance and familiarity, continuity and resolution, and obviously frogs."
charlieloyd  2016  eyeo  chrishatfield  photography  imagery  seeing  frogs  familiarity  overvieweffect  popadantsy  websurfing  earth  aerialimagery  space  satelliteimagery  humanism  humanity  poetry  art  canon  eyeo2016  classideas 
august 2016 by robertogreco
San Francisco, Super Bowl Sunday | Mapbox
"We don’t often see pictures like this one. The problem is haze: as a camera in space looks toward the horizon, it sees more water vapor, smog, and other stuff in the atmosphere that obscures the Earth. But our friends at DigitalGlobe built WorldView-3 with a sensor suite called CAVIS, which lets it quantify and subtract haze – making atmospheric effects virtually invisible. Only WorldView-3 can see so clearly at this angle.

The satellite is about 17° above the horizon from San Francisco, and it is looking about 60° away from the point directly under it. At first I thought there was a typo, because 17° off horizontal should be 73° off vertical, not 61°. But while sketching it out, I realized I was assuming the ground is flat. WorldView-3 is way out over the Pacific – more than 1300 km or 800 miles to the west, and over that distance the Earth curves by about 12°!"
charlieloyd  mapbox  sanfrancisco  digitalglobe  aerialimagery  satelliteimagery  photography  satellites  2016 
february 2016 by robertogreco
6, 73: Uummannaq
"Flight is a luxury even in the rich world, but so are most other particularly carbony activities. Eating beef and drinking milk, for example, causes twice as much climate change as every airplane combined. To imagine today’s standard of living without widespread beef-eating, envision bridge subsidies for ranchers and some thinkpiece-worthy changes in the rich world’s palate. To imagine today’s standard of living without widespread flight, envision gravity trains, I guess? Or, liklier, an industrial buildup as metro areas have to be more self-sustaining.

Flight is a problem. I’m not for more flying for the sake of more flying. But it’s also not the problem. We can manage it short of giving up on it. For example, manufacturers can push efficiency beyond immediate market demand. Really, like everything else, flight should have its CO2e cost priced in. Flying from LAX to LHR, say, is about 8.8k km, and for a single person (using typical figures; numbers vary by model) the CO2e released is 1 tonne. A cheap ticket for that flight is about $1000. A tonne of CO2e offset costs right about $15. That’s a 1.5% tax. Probably there are factors I’m overlooking, but it could be several times that much and still lost in the noise of seasonal ticket price variation. If we tackled it like we meant it, instead of with poorly grounded jokes and vague guilt, flight wouldn’t be a big deal.

I argue this forcefully because I’ve seen so many of my favorite people hesitate before flying, on climate grounds. I respect the question, but I want to say: Do it if you want to! Flying for your own sake is wonderful. Travel is worth it, to see somewhere new or to be with people you love. Maybe fly 10% less than you would, and use the savings to buy carbon offsets for the times when you do.

But people don’t like carbon offsets, do they? They’re sometimes compared to indulgences. The criticism is that we can’t individually buy our way out of responsibility for climate change. But in fact we can. I mean, not everyone completely and forever without externalities, but in practice, looking at CO2e per se, absent a substantive critique of the actual in-the-dirt methodology of offsets, we can. We can exchange capital for lack of atmospheric greenhousing. It’s affronting to a common-sense view of responsibility, but it’s how a properly run carbon offset works. We can’t, say, buy a given species back from extinction on a commodity model, but we can most certainly buy a batch of 50,139,800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 carbon atoms and have them stuck in the ground – that’s really easy. We have a tech that does it pretty much autonomously once you get it set up. But the buying bugs people. I think a lot of what’s scary is the confronting abyss: the knowledge that we can buy carbon, but we’re not.

Another and more valid fear, I think, is about civics and performance: Offsets are private, but a lot of carbony behavior is public, so the norm-setting is tricky. Like, if you see me tweet “crazy week, TNM ✈️ THU ✈️ MAD ✈️ WLG ✈️ EDW ✈️ NKW ✈️ BDT + gonna hold a tire fire beef BBQ in the rainforest, bruhhh”, that’s likely to prompt you to more carbony behavior than otherwise, even if I’ve offset it all by a generous factor. Etiquette discourages us from mentioning in public that we’ve bought things like offsets, so there’s no symmetry of social effect between the positive and negative the way there’s a symmetry of atmospheric effect. That’s a problem in the way that being vaguely indulgence-like isn’t.

And it’s also a better argument against climate summit flights. If lots of people think the summiteers are wasting carbon, that matters, even if they’re wrong – even if the flights were offset, even if what the flights enabled was worth it millions of times over for the planet’s atmosphere. But I think most of us would agree that there are reasonable limits to how far we should go out of our ways to be intelligible to poorly informed people. We should behave in a way that sets a good example for and welcomes civil dialog with whoever is in sight, but we should balance that with doing whatever works best and trying to spread an understanding of why it works best. (In other words, sometimes we have to offset poor information, not just change our behaviors 😏.)

Climate is the super wicked problem. Offsets can’t solve it, and neither can any other single technique. I don’t know what getting through this will look like, but I think it’s going to be messy and involve a lot of rethinking. I say we should go after beef harder than after airplanes. I could be wrong. It’s very complicated."



"What is most valuable in these stories, for me, aside from knowing the life of someone close to me, is an understanding of evil. Grandma was clear that Nazis did not appear out of nowhere as interiorless, historyless avatars of violence. They were neighbors, uncles, the waiter, the mayor, the ladies who lunch, the teens laughing on their way to band practice, the woman who made your socks, dad’s army buddy who saved his life, the post office clerk with the lazy eye, the teacher who keeps the PTA running, the witty guy at poker night, the garbageman who whistles showtunes, the librarian who feeds your cat when you travel. They saw a way out of national and personal distress. They thought the angry politician was maybe not the most trustworthy person, and some of his ideas were a little extreme, but at least he was a corrective to the spineless Weimar incompetence. They found purpose and belonging. And they enabled a war of aggression, and many of them harassed, robbed, imprisoned, enslaved, gassed, drowned, froze, burned, buried, shot, raped, experimented upon, and worked to death their fellow people.

It’s not enough to remember Nazis as symbols of evil. What happened to six million people was not done by metaphors for wickedness, it was done by other people with hands and brains like ours. They were infected with the idea that there are intrinsically good people and intrinsically evil people. They were extremely evil, but not intrinsically. They were wrong in ways that you and I can be wrong. This is the most terrifying thing I know, and I know it from Grandma. What does “it can happen here” mean? I can’t understand as well as she did.

With this knowledge, she led a life of ideological moderation, active respect for other cultures, and firm but not rigid ideals. My sense of her worldview, and I’ll have to check this against transcripts and my mom’s and aunts’ interpretations, is something like: After WWI, her parents and their generation had been trying to educate everyone, to help build an enlightened culture and an equitable society. Fascism killed millions of people and erased that generation’s work. Now the important thing was to pick right back up – to rebuild a healthy human environment, starting today, and this time more fascism-resistant.

I knew Grandma as a grandmother. When I was very young, she was a gentle but earthy old woman with an odd accent, distinctive taste in art, and some mannerisms left over from working as a nurse. And some inexplicable habits, like eating the cartilage and marrow out of a chicken breast if not in polite company, or seeming uncomfortable about low-flying planes sometimes. These stories showed up slowly. “Well, when I was young, sometimes food was scarce. You know, mixing a little sawdust in the bread dough as filler, this kind of thing.”

For a while, I thought she had shifted gears in the ’50s: that she had turned away – that the war had turned her away – from the bohemian liveliness and the meliorist ideals of her youth, and that she had signed over to the American blandness of Disney, housewifehood, art in spare time, a comfortable retirement, and so on. Gradually I saw how much that idea came from books and not from her. I had tried to see her life in terms of Big Ideas And Social Trends: the Weimar times were Like This, WWII was Like That, America in the ’50s was This Other Thing.

I was going backwards. What matters first about the Weimar times is what they were like to live inside. That’s not all that matters, but nothing else matters if that doesn’t. We can’t see into a person’s life through copula sentences: “The Weimar period was materially difficult but intellectually productive”, “Some Allied bombings were ethically difficult”, “The midcentury Hollywood animation establishment was sexist”. Not enough. But maybe: Feeding the goat with dandelions picked from the sidewalks of Lichterfelde. The way the raining city-ashes smelled. That Betty Brenon exclusively hired women at her studio so they could get work done. I can only see Grandma starting with what she saw.

From there, it’s obvious that she did not let go, was not subsumed into the history textbook subheds of the century; she was always moving under her own power, in catastrophic times and in merely imperfect systems. And so was everyone. Grandma was special in many ways, but point to anyone and so are they. Some of us are lucky enough to get to a place where our work can accrete, where we can build a piece of the world we want. Many of us are not. War is only one of the forces that can destroy a person’s chances, or a generation’s work, or a generation. The weight of history is intolerable, an ocean-trench pressure, if we try to take it as a weight. Talking with Grandma helped me take it as a liquid, something that we can equalize against without being crushed, something whose unintelligible mass we can push against and move within.

I hope that we will remember the people who are leaving us now as people. I hope that, one day, we will be remembered as people."
charlieloyd  2015  memory  history  humaity  humanism  evil  wwii  ww2  moderation  fascism  society  climatechange  globalwarming  flying  carbonoffsets  climatetalks  indaba  negotiating  negatiations  listening  indulgences 
december 2015 by robertogreco
6, 68: Questions
"Imagine a big-budget documentary series on coffee, tea, and chocolate. I’m thinking of something between Planet Earth and Parts Unknown, but with special attention to problems of representation. It’s very easy to imagine this being full of clichés, talking down to both its audience and its subjects. I want to see something that has lovely 30 second panoramic shots of Sri Lankan hills and can hold the camera on a tea-picker talking about their economic conditions in their own words for the same length of time. I want something that can mention certain points about coffee prices and the IMF’s structural adjustments in Rwanda leading up to 1994. I want something that can talk about why several hundred Guere people died in Duékoué on 28–29 March 2011, and what that has to do with a Hershey bar.
I’m not looking for muckraking in particular. I want the interviews with the louche tasting-master, and the gruff operator of the cocoa butter mixer, and the slightly prickly olfactory researcher in the paper-filled office saying something counterintuitive. We all know coffee, tea, and chocolate are touchstones – of shared sensory experience, as social nucleation sites, casual drugs, conduits of globalization, economic staples – we get this. So someone should go out and ring the changes. Walk us through it. Let’s see it. There have been many good, small documentaries about these things, but I want a big one, something with a bank and an arc – crack out the fancy cameras, hire the good interpreters, add some zeros to the travel budget.

Look, I can pitch some episodes right now:

• The Chain. First episode if they’re 40 minutes, first three if they’re 20. For each of the drinks, we go from a plantation, through processing, to a shelf. I don’t care if we have to blur out logos because we don’t have permission. All we’re doing is orienting the viewer in the jargon and in our style.

• Health. What does caffeine do in the brain? What is addiction, like medically what is it? We talk to long-distance truckers. Why does green tea make some people sleepy? Are coffee, chocolate, and tea good for you? (Not: Is there a negligible trace constituent of chocolate that, if you feed ten grams per kilogram per day of it to rats, they have infinitesimally lower blood pressure? Not: “Black tea has long been said to be…”.) Why do these plants have caffeine at all?

• Land, Part 1. We’re at the edge of the Mau forest in Kenya. It’s the largest highland forest remaining in East Africa, and it’s disappearing fairly quickly – for, among other things, controversially, tea. And there are suspicious evictions: some people don’t seem sure where various park borders really are on the ground. Tea is economically complicated because it’s valuable but the markets are variable. We think about how multicropping, banking, a welfare system, trade, and hierarchical ownership are all ways of aiming for economic sustainability. We hear from two different tea smallholders, and one who had to make the switch to dairy. We hear from optimists, and from environmentalists talking about how hard it is to balance conservation against development. Comments from insightful academics who have worked in the area (say, Pratyusha Basu, who has looked at gender and dairy farming here) are recounted to and remarked upon by the smallholders. As in every episode, precedence is given to academics with more local experience – say, in this case, Naomi Shanguhyia, who grew up in the area and did a doctorate on tea farming among other things. What’s this? A grandparent remembers the UK and Canada’s program of persecution, encampment, and torture in the area in the 1950s, and how the montane forest was used as a redoubt. We think about the fact that coffee and tea both like high elevations in tropical climates, and bring this to James C. Scott’s ideas about using hills to hide from state power, and the taxability of tea.

• Everything Else. Stuff people do with cocoa that isn’t candy bars or hot chocolate: Why is cocoa butter used so much in beauty products? How do you make tejate? Or mole Guatemalteco? We talk with Mexican experts to reconstruct a plausible recipe for the earliest known drinking chocolates, and taste-test it. Coffee: How good a fertilizer is coffee grounds? Tea: Check it out, you can make cellulose from kombucha.

• Fermentation and Oxidation. How are washed and unwashed coffees different? What does the “washing” look like? When chocolate pickers cover the beans with banana leaves, what’s going on? How could it be that as recently as ten years ago we thought Pu-erh tea fermentation was led by black mold fungus, but now we think it’s primarily Aspergillus luchuensis? What do completely green/unfermented versions of each drink taste like if you make them in the ordinary way? What about over-fermented versions? We visit several tea processing facilities in China, taking flavor and microbial profiles of the leaves at various stages, and talk to people in Tibet for whom Pu-erh is the primary source of certain micronutrients.

• At Home. We look in detail at how some people who grow and collect the drinks use them. How does a Nilgiri tea picker brew it, or do they? Do cocoa farmers in rural Côte d’Ivoire know what chocolate is? (Spoiler: many of them do not.) When I hear that some Ethiopian coffee-growers like to roast their beans with butter, is that the same butter as is in my fridge? (This is, of course, an excuse to look at living conditions. But also I’m just mundanely curious about recipes.)

• Hipsters. Where does American third-wave coffee come from? What was the causal braid from Ethiopia through invasion to Italy through occupation to GIs on the US’s West Coast to hipsters to the national fashion for Seattle in the 90s to people being mad at the word “barista”? We talk to competitors and judges at the World Barista Championships, treating them with the dignity and assumption of subjectivity that is due to any human being, and with the people who write lengthy tasting notes that make you kind of embarrassed for them. How has the flat white been spreading over this last decade? Can people with bangs and beards tell the difference between Blue Bottle and Starbucks in a double-blind taste test? We talk to mom and pop coffeeshop owners about the economics, difficulties, and pleasures of the business. (I know just the ones. The rumors that I liked their coffeeshop so much that I moved into their spare room, 2011–2012, are slightly exaggerated.)

• Timing. We visit with a commodities day-trader, a logistics expert at a processing plant, a logistics expert at a shipping company, someone who works with agricultural prediction, meteorologists, trendspotters, whatever you call the people who develop and test things like Pumpkin Spice Latte®, and so on. Starting with recollections from farmers, we look at how weather and politics in given years affected prices. (What happens in Chiapas if the belg was late?)

• Final Episode. We look at behind-the-scenes footage. How did the interviewers talk to the interviewees when the (main) cameras weren’t rolling? We meet the fixers, the translators, the camera operators. The presenters talk about what they learned: as cliché as it is, do they think about a latte differently now? We watch people who were interviewed watching episodes they were in – or rough cuts, at least. What about the time in New Guinea when rain got in the $50,000 camera? How many shots did the medical insurer insist they get before equatorial travel? What news has there been of issues covered in the first episodes? A producer explains how they persuaded someone at the head office to sign off on some inadvisable travel that produced a single 30 second subsegment. An editor describes how they tried to wedge that shot in but there was just no way. We see that shot.

Is this making sense? We could easily brainstorm as many again – on history, on economics, on botany. I want something that would mostly fit inside this decade’s dominant documentary formats, but which wouldn’t take the “look at the quaint poor people” stance that is still mostly normal. (Nor the “anything called development must be good” stance, nor the “look what corporations did” stance, nor, nor, nor.) I want to learn why the Japanese market buys almost all the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee produced. I want to learn why Coffea liberica isn’t more popular, and what’s up with the boutique chocolate market segment since Dagoba got bought, and whether tea pickers can talk to each other while they work. I’m willing to have a slightly square documentary if that’s what it takes to talk about the effects of theobromine, and a slightly radical one if that’s what it means to talk about why people making luxury goods can be hungry, and a slightly Vice-y one if that’s what it takes to look at child labor up close. It seems like such an obvious topic, so woven into timely and visually appealing issues."
charlieloyd  questions  curiosity  2015  coffee  tea  interestedness  howtoaskquestions  questionasking  learning  howwelearn  commodities  systemsthinking  food  drink  health  history  geography  science  politics  askingquestions  interested 
october 2015 by robertogreco
6, 67: Side pass
"Q: Where do you find the time to write a newsletter?

A: I think of things that I was going to do, but which I don’t want to do as much as I want to do a newsletter, and then I don’t do those other things, and do the newsletter instead.

Q: You said once that you were pretty optimistic about the world’s future, despite your deep fear of climate change. Why?

A: Well, short version, because of what I think of as the genre of whig graphs. I strongly disagree with the hypercapitalist, only-humans-matter, business-as-usual agenda of most people I see deploying those graphs. (← Between that sentence and the coming sentence is where a longer version would have to do a lot of careful bridge-building. →) But I have much more trust in the futures of vaccinated, nourished, educated, relatively non-traumatized children who are close to the world’s biggest problems than I do in my own analyses. The risk in this stance is quietism. In any case, I think we’re in big trouble. My optimism isn’t a kind of satisfaction, only a kind of hope.



Q: How do I learn to write better?

A: Not sure. But maybe try stuff like: Write about things you care about. When you read something that surprises you, think about why, and how it could have been different. Good writing teaches you how to read it. As a reader, pay attention. As a writer, reward attention. Accept that you can’t make any one piece of writing avoid every valid criticism, communicate the whole truth, or please everyone you’d like to please. Notice peers whose writing is like yours and watch them learn. Find things you appreciate in writing that you (or common wisdom) don’t like. Ask someone who knows better than me.

Q: As you might expect from the fact that I subscribe to your newsletter, I think we share some tastes and interests.

A: What do you read and pay attention to? Dunno. I follow a lot of amazing people on Twitter. When I come across something especially interesting, I assume it’s part of a network of interesting things and try to map that out. (For example, if I particularly enjoy a book, I’ll do web searches for the people thanked in the acknowledgments.) Looking for gaps, ruthlessness about things that are supposed to be interesting but aren’t, etc. I don’t know! Really there’s nothing in particular that I would point to other than the entire internet."
charlieloyd  2015  reading  writing  howweread  howwewrite  process  learning  howwelearn  generalists  twitter  education  unschooling  attention  interestedness  interested  classideas  communication  ideas  hypercapitalism  future  hope  optimism  climatechange  humanism  newsletters  futures  quietism 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Space is hard though
"By request, some disagreement with Stop saying 'space is hard'.

First I should say that I don’t think this piece is for me. I’m not the audience, and in a sense I don’t get it. I should also say that everything here is speaking strictly personally. (By me, @vruba.)"



"as someone in a space-adjacent field, I sometimes express the sentiment through the phrase “space is hard”.

But I think people do, often, take spacefaring a little bit for granted. I know because they tell me, and because I’m one of them. Taking something for granted is not quite the opposite of respect; both can be at least partly present in one mind, or in one community. And spacefaring is, in many ways, normalized. Our jaws do not drop when we see satellite images on the weather. We also do not gasp when we hear about an organ transplantation – but we might if a friend was the donor or recipient. There is a multidimensional gradient between “simple task” and “miracle”."
charlieloyd  space  2015  spaceexploration 
july 2015 by robertogreco
6, 53: Mapping
"Doing Nepal-related things, some of them involving fancy new satellite imagery and such, but also the simple, repetitive work of contributing to HOT OSM, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. This is easy and makes the delivery of supplies incrementally faster. I don’t know what it’s like in and around Kathmandu right now. It’s almost certainly a lot of traumatized people trying to help injured people as fast as possible, probably without enough clean water or shelter. Some aid agencies I mostly trust (which ain’t all of them) say they need to know where there are roads and potential helicopter landing sites, and we can tell them that.

If you want to, orient yourself with the HOT website, read @meetar’s guide, find other resources (in a pinch, ask me, though I’m not an expert), and pick up some tasks from the tasking manager. I recommend the vanilla, in-browser iD editor for beginners – I still use it mostly. I think the main barrier for many people is an impression that they don’t know enough to help: like you have to be a trained cartographer or something. That is, politely, false. If you can trace a road, you’re helping. This is a case where a bad map is better than no map. Your work will be checked and polished by more experienced people, and then given to responders who understand that it’s the best available, not authoritative. Your help is welcome."
maps  mapping  osm  openstreetmap  charlieloyd  peterrichardson  nepal  2015  hotosm  via:lukeneff 
may 2015 by robertogreco
6, 52: Continuity
"Pleistocene Park has been in the news, maybe off this Independent coverage. My hunch is that rewilding and de-extinction (and cautious geoengineering generally) are probably great ideas and we’ll come to regret that we didn’t do our scientific and political due diligence earlier. But that’s only a strong opinion weakly held, and what seems more interesting now is understanding how Pleistocene Park, as a flagship, plays in the media.

It’s telling, for example, that Jurassic Park is so often the introductory metaphor. A few months ago, this newsletter mentioned the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve, another private rewilding project that’s more radical in at least five ways: (1) how close it is to people, (2) how far back in time it goes, (3) that it’s rewilding a species that was naturally locally extinct, (4) in terms of biomass turnover, and (5) how far along it is – already finding previously undocumented behavior. But Crescent Ridge is only charismatic megaflora, and Pleistocene Park just has to say “mammoth” to be news.

I think some of that comes down to people fearing mammoths. There’s maybe a sense that we would be in competition, that in a few years they might be intimidating joggers in Yakutsk and trampling wheat fields in Irkutsk. In other words, that large wild animals should probably not exist.

– I had buffalo burger for brunch today. The bison were the largest North American animals to survive the climate change and hunting at the end of the last glacial maximum. There were something like 25,000,000 of them before the United States. In 1890, there were about 1,100. Now there are about 500,000, many of them more or less sustainably ranched.

– Via @annegalloway’s more-than-human lab’s tumblr, 3,200 toy tigers around space for 40,000."



"Tangentially: the nearest big city to Bisie is Goma, on the Rwandan border, between Lake Kivu and Mount Nyiragongo. @jw_rosen has just written two articles about Goma and the lake: After years of war, Goma, DRC, is open for business and (with lovely photographs by Jason Florio) Lake Kivu’s Great Gas Gamble. Rosen is wary of many of the traps that certain other Western journalists are stuck in like wasps in bottles when they try to talk about the region. The gorillas, for example. Or the old National Geographic angle that I remember someone parodying with a line like “Biknis and Uzis: Beautiful, Troubled Brazil is a Land of Contrasts at a Crossroads”. Rosen manages to show a picture of Goma that encompasses complexity without absurdly exoticizing it, that can show M23, Au Bon Pain, natural disasters, and kombucha without being like “See?! This place is weirder than your place!”

(There are a couple angles here that I’m saving for another time, but just because I want to, here are two Goma-related videos I enjoyed: a cover of Pharrell’s Happy and Lake Kivu – Bukavu to Goma.)"



"This morning I read about the Mediterranean drownings, and the unidentified bodies of people who die of dehydration while crossing the border into Arizona, and then rich countries’ hesitations about bringing in Syrian refugees. I see the camps, you know. In the satellite imagery. It’s not as important as listening to the people in them. But helps me relate in other ways. The big ones – Zaatari, Dadaab – are as big as cities. They are cities, cities on life support.

My grandfather’s family were Czech Jews who narrowly avoided the Holocaust. The wealthy nations wouldn’t give them visas. Everyone could see what Hitler was up to. But the US and others still had antisemitic – anti–virtually-everyone – immigration quotas. When it mattered, there were two places in the world that would let them in: China and Bolivia. They went to Bolivia, and as antisemitism became less fashionable toward the end of the war they got to come to America. I’m grateful for what continuity I have with them: the saved letters, the family traits in stories. When I see people dying to cross borders today, I see more continuity. Not same-ness, just continuity. I can’t see people as desperate as my ancestors were and pretend it’s completely different. Everyone in danger of their life deserves help. They don’t earn that responsibility from the rest of us. They just have it, by being a person.

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, how can we guarantee that among these starving people and enemies of oppressive states there isn’t anyone who might fractionally lessen our own sense of security?”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, first we have to process them!”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, there’s all this darn paperwork!”

The thing about geography, for me, is continuity. Everywhere is related in calculable ways to everywhere else. There are walls on the ground, but the numbers move smoothly through them. The numbers come from land grabs and military ballistics. We can use them as invisible but omnipresent reminders that you can get there from here.

When I was small, I was used to worldbuilding fiction where the writer had left some things undiscovered. Often this must have been a way to build an ethos of mystery, of romance, of potential, of nascence. Other times it was probably a practical way of leaving options open for the settings of later books in the series. It was very unfair that on the real globe, everything habitable was explored. It felt mean to give the reader a world without the potential for huge lost societies who might have figured out a lot of surprising stuff. “This is all you get.” Rude."
africa  euope  us  migration  immigration  refugees  2015  charlieloyd  borders  border  mexico  congo  drc  bisie  goma  mining  lakekivu  landsat  landsat9  rewilding  crescentridgedawnredwoodspreserve  de-extinction  mammoths  magaflora  magafauna  science  sustainability  terraforming  bison  biomass  pleistocenepark  geoengineering  anthropocene  humanism  personhood  compassion  continuity  geography  society  policy  politics  politicalgeography  safety  security  fear 
april 2015 by robertogreco
6, 50: Nimbus
"My friend who’s turning seven is (it probably goes without saying) preternaturally clever, self-possessed, generous, curious, funny, tough, and so forth. She’s been teaching me Minecraft. She’s terribly fast. She lays complicated and resilient plans. There’s a kind of sprezzatura to her play, a clarity of intent that can roll with surprises, and she narrates with charming confidence. Her instructions are in the mode of “Now see if you can follow along”. Sometimes I remember it comes from YouTube videos. They aren’t just teaching her Minecraft, they’re teaching her how to teach. This is how metacognition happens. She’s building little worlds."
charlieloyd  children  learning  youtube  minecraft  metacognition  howwelearn  howweteach  internet  worldbuilding  followtheleader 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Mapbox's Landsat-live Ushers In a New Era for Online Cartography, Using Satellite Imagery to Show the Earth as It Is Now - CityLab
[RE: https://www.mapbox.com/bites/00113/

See also: https://www.mapbox.com/blog/landsat-live-live/ ]

"On Google Earth, the seasons rarely change. Most anywhere a digital traveler goes, the sky is cloudless and the grass is green. No snow on the ground in Iowa. No fire in Valparaiso. It's a big gap between the world as it is and as it's mapped.

Launched Thursday, a landmark project from Mapbox has changed the summertime paradigm for online cartography. Landsat-live reveals the planet's surface in real time and in stunning resolution, fed by a constant stream of public-domain imagery from NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite. Above is an embedded version you can explore.

The USGS has controlled operations of the satellite since 2013. That Landsat's images are freely and rapidly available is to the credit of USGS, as well as to Amazon Web Services, which hosts and shares the data at no charge to the public.

"This is really new in terms of what’s been available," says Camilla Mahon, a satellite-imagery engineer at Mapbox who helped spearhead the project. "This is one of the fastest ways we can grab imagery, and that’s what's allowing us to do this in real time."

Virtually every spot displayed on this map is 16 days old or younger (occasionally, weather or maintenance will mean some displays will be up to 32 days old). Labels indicating cities and highways are layered onto Landsat's ribbons of imagery using open-source OpenStreetMap data (as most Mapbox projects do).

"Anyone has the data to make this kind of map," says Charlie Loyd, also a Mapbox imagery engineer. But the project is key to the company's larger aims. "We’re trying for an ecosystem where any geo-spatial image can go on a map and be useful immediately."

That's also the philosophy behind this other, truly astonishing experiment in cartography—a moving California coastline. "That's actually drone imagery," Loyd says nonchalantly of the video that's layered on the satellite image map. Five years from now, real-time maps might be as ubiquitous as YouTube videos—but for now, they feel as futuristic as movies might have to Victorians.

They might also seem as superfluous, to the average map user. Yet Landsat-live has the potential for all kinds of applications, says Mahon, including environmental and agricultural monitoring.

Plus, there's that whole awe and wonder of the planet thing. "I think there is an intrinsic value and beauty to this," says Loyd. "Everyone has an inherent interest in seeing the world as it is.""
mapbox  imgery  seasons  change  time  landsat  charlieloyd  2015  drones  video  osm  openstreetmap  camillamahon  usgs  laurabliss 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Arcade | Hazlitt
[via answers to:

“Recommend me a podcast! Rules: (1) can’t be produced by NPR; (2) can’t be friends talking about pop culture.”
https://twitter.com/vruba/status/572061215326781440

and

“Some podcasts I already like:

– @Hazlitt
– @metis_in_space
– @gininnovation
– @DeadAuthorPod
– Radio New Zealand
– 12 Byzantine Rulers”
https://twitter.com/vruba/status/572064446761156610

Other answers included:

Welcome to Night Vale
In Our Time**
Gastropod** (@Gastropodcast + http://gastropod.com)
Criminal (http://thisiscriminal.com)
The Arcade by Hazlitt (http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/hazlitt/arcade) **
all of Radiotopia
BBC Digital Human
The Bugle**
Hardcore History (@HardcoreHistory)
N of Us
History of Rome**
spycast
Fugitive Waves
Astronomy Cast
BBC From Our Own Correspondent
Benjamin Walker's Theory of Everything
The Truth
Judge John Hodgeman
Risk
Fatman on Batman
Radio Diaries
http://newbooksnetwork.com

**multiple mentions ]
podcasts  tolisten  postcastrecs  charlieloyd 
march 2015 by robertogreco
6, 35: Moonlight
"Things I wish someone had explained to me sooner…

• To people who don’t love you, your intentions don’t matter. If you hurt them accidentally, you’ve hurt them.

• Broadly, experts get that way because they care about what they do. Because they care about it, they want to tell you about what they know. It’s easy for them to leave out what they don’t know. And so, accidentally, they tend to make their fields sound more boring than they are. On either side of an expert–layperson relationship, remember to talk about the mysteries and frontiers.



• In any complicated situation, what people can tell you about why they came to their conclusions is virtually unrelated to the truth, effectiveness, or worthwhileness of those conclusions. We’re right for the wrong reasons, and vice versa, all the time.



• Argument from origins – etymology, philosophical genealogy, institutional history – takes special humility. It’s easy to make a point that’s only a complicated, smart-sounding version of “Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is evil”.

• Programming is more like writing than like working an algebra problem.

• Your attention is the most valuable thing you can give. It’s what lets you do anything intentionally. Put some aside to spend where it might be badly needed. That’s usually not on anything that a million people are already attending to. It might be, but more often it will be something that most people around you, with perspectives like yours, are not thinking about."



"Earlier today, a moment in the presence of the systemic sublime while drinking Yirgacheffe coffee and watching Ethiopian kids singing while sorting coffee beans – Wote, Yirgacheffe. And watching Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby crawl up on the Philippines: this tweet, my word. Not only can I track the typhoon half-hourly in infrared, I have access to two separate instruments that can see it in visible wavelengths by moonlight: VIIRS and astronauts with DSLRs. Moonlight. A lot of my life is lived as part of this stringy confederation of nerds interested in perception over distance and mediated by algorithms, in the river rapids where culture flows around protuberant lumps of technology, in volition and encoding, in the connections, separations, and flavors of the network itself, in scale, in long chains of molecules and routes of IP packets and corten containers and coffee beans, and in the submerged cathedrals and unmapped data halls that they build. And I make fun of us, our rhizome or distributed pocket, with jokes about James C. Scott and so forth. But I feel the weight when I wonder whether the children who sorted the beans I’m drinking were singing. Moonlight."
charlieloyd  2014  systems  systemsthinking  systemicsublime  coffee  jamescscott  certainty  uncertainty  programming  coding  writing  attention  experts  mystery  frontiers  unknown  intentions  love 
december 2014 by robertogreco
6, 31: Nixtamalization
"Broadly, you’re getting three things here:

First, reminiscences, because “I saw an unusual thing once and, on reflection, here’s what I think of it” is one of my favorite things to read.

Second, criticism of cultural criticism, especially of the tech industry. From the fact that I work in this industry, you can guess that I think there are at least a few beautiful, wholly worthwhile things here. From the fact that I’m not a complete psychopath, you can guess that I think the industry as a whole is enormously broken. My ideas about this are not very lucid, but I try to clarify them using actual experiences and numbers and introspection. One opinion you’ll see a lot is that complaining about epiphenomena – the taste of Soylent, creepy wording choices in Facebook press releases, the fact that some tech workers are rude – is fine or whatever, but it doesn’t replace serious inquiries into cultural and economic problems like systemic sexism or child labor.

What I fear is a cultural framework around technology like the one around pro sports, where a merry enterprise has grown an industry based on “a subtle but insidious form of child abuse”, but popular criticism is stuck on the level of nitpicking stars’ public behavior. To take high technology’s potential for good seriously is to take its potential for bad seriously, and to take its potential for bad seriously is to get beyond the “they call us users, which is also what drug addicts are called!!!” horseshit.

The tech industry, or its subculture, or the network itself, is neither independent of nor a seamless part of the society around it. It has its own potentials, its own points of rigidity and articulation, that are not understood in one glance. Studying it is like studying anything else. You need sweat and rigor: to build a ship that floats, that catches the wind, that can be sailed and improved by other people. You also need enchantment and humility: to have been out of sight of land and imagine, involuntarily, the abyssal plains and mountains far under you, and realize that your mind will never encompass everything as it is at once.

In this decade we have a lot of loud commentators who are very keen on certain conclusions about the network – that it’s good or bad, shaped like this or that – but don’t show the rigor or the humility. The commentators themselves are not a bad blight, as blights go. Better to have reflexive Luddites and unreflective transhumanists selling tweet-sized answers to Wikipedia-sized questions on the lecture circuit than to have locusts, or bears, or superflus, or gray goo, or dictators, or weevils.

But we can do better, I hope. We will apply more of what we already know about people to technology made and used by people. It’s a very slippery thing to talk about people, personhood itself, at the scale where experience happens. People speaking for themselves can do it. Good fiction does it, and very good narrative history. Nonfiction tends to be terrible at it. There is a big exception. It’s the structure that’s been home to a sizable plurality, maybe even a majority, of the most serious intellectual work of the last three or four generations: feminism. (Other fields have been able to talk about lived personhood, obvs, but it’s feminism that’s coordinated all these insights into productive mosaics. Third-wave feminism is the single most useful collection of ideas of what people are like. So it is that if in 2014 you read something generally about humanness that doesn’t feel like it was written by Howard Hughes on DMT, it’s likely using a hundred years feminist scholarship as a foundation.) The first of many problems, of course, is that a lot of the tech culture shares the larger culture’s suspicion that feminism is just patriarchy through a mirror, and we all know patriarchy is for crap, so.

And we have weird ideas about the future. We think that technology is more about the future than other things are. We think that to make people work for a better future, we have to convince them that things are getting worse. (The evidence is that the most important things are getting better for most people.) We think that we can make climate change not come true after it’s already come true. On the whole of course I suspect the future of people is less determined by its being the future than by their being people.

And a special note on meritocracy. The following is pandering to most readers, but occasionally someone thanks me for my “newsletter about how the tech industry isn’t really that bad” or something, so I’d like to draw a line. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of several institutions that people could move in under their own power. I’ve appreciated them partly because they’re so rare, especially in tech. The idea that the economy is an objective sorting of people according to innate virtue onto a scale of income is on a level with the idea that our fates are woven by the Norns. Maybe a bit below, in that the Norns were fictional but describable, while merit is both fictional and circularly defined. Smartness is a concept that I try to avoid, but if I had to choose someone as the smartest I know, with the best ability to analyze and construct complex and subtle ideas, she’s in training as a mid-level social worker and can expect to “““““earn”””””, at her career peak, somewhat less than a middling third-year code monkey making trick websites in SF. I know two different brilliant people stuck in subsistence retail jobs to take care of their sick relatives. I know two different eldercare nurses who are made to take extra work hours. You can take your meritocracy and shove it so far up your ass it chips your teeth."



"By request, though in some consternation about acting as if I have the answers, I suggest two rules of thumb:

1. When you meet someone, examine your first impression carefully. Consider what kind of person you reflexively think they are, and start interacting with them from the assumption that they’re sick of being treated like that kind of person. Defer to basic sensitivities and to common sense, of course. The idea is to actively negate biases rather than trying to ignore them, and it seems to land me in more interesting conversations.

2. Think of times you’ve changed your mind about something important. Think especially of the ways that people tried to talk you out of it that failed before you did come around. Then, when debating, use ways of arguing that have worked on you. Maybe more importantly, don’t use ways of arguing that only entrenched you."
2014  charlieloyd  firstimpressions  listening  assumptions  conversation  mindchanging  openmindedness  iterestedness  debate  debating  arguing  argument  meritocracy  technology  siliconvalley  fiction  patriarchy  feminism  humility  rigor  criticism  nuance  complexity  systemsthinking  epiphenomena  internet  web  mindchanges 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 1: Black Start
"Last month, I was in San Francisco for a few days. Being in California, if you’re from the East Coast, just feels different, in a way that I've never satisfactorily articulated to myself, but then I find myself whooping when I first spot the Pacific Ocean as I cross the peninsula from SFO to Highway 1.

Part of it is a lifetime of living with the mythos of California. Quoting Charlie Loyd: "…California, America’s America: beautiful, dysfunctional, dominant, infuriatingly calm about itself, vastly more diverse and complex than even the best informed and most charitable outsider gives it credit for, built on bones, overflowing with demagogues, decadent, permanently reinventing itself."

But part of my experience of San Francisco, and Seattle and Vancouver, is that the underlying land shapes the city, rather than the city shaping the land. This is literally the case in Boston and New York, where the edges of the city defined by landfill, so all you are aware of in the city is the city. In San Francisco, the bones of the land are apparent in every direction you look, hills rising and falling and beyond them, the sea. The original grid of San Francisco was laid out for the dozen or so blocks of the settlement of Yerba Buena, and then as the city grew and grew the grid was just extended in all directions, heedless of the underlying topography—so today, the topography defines the paths through the city. Every San Franciscan I know thinks about the city in three dimensions—which routes to one’s destination involve the least climbing, the Wiggle, where the beautiful views are.

I miss Toronto, my hometown. I miss its unparalleled diversity. I know it’s not what was when I was growing up there, but I miss living in a place with a determined commitment to collectively making the lives of its residents better. When I was there in June, I found myself driving in an unfamiliar part of the city. The wide road was lined with modest but pleasant single-family homes, and every few blocks there was a small park and a school. Peace, order and good government. What I don’t miss from Toronto is the physical geography—the city sits on the fertile lowland between two rivers and, besides being on Lake Ontario, has virtually none to speak of. When I trained for a marathon in grad school, I would head due north up a major street for mile after mile, the road gently sloping upwards as I went away from the lake, which meant a gentle downhill as I returned home. That’s basically it. The city is defined by the city.

In contrast, when I miss Seattle, I miss the landscape. I miss seeing the Cascades and the Olympics on clear days, and I miss coming over a hill and seeing Puget Sound. But above all, I miss Mount Rainier. I still remember the first time I saw the mountain. I vaguely knew that you could see Rainier from the city, but I was completely unprepared when I turned a corner and saw this giant stratovolcano just looming. My relationship with the person I was in Seattle to see ended not long after, but I have yet to fall out of love with Rainier. Years later, I moved to Seattle to do a sabbatical at the University of Washington, which has a long quadrangle, the Rainier Vista, aligned with the mountain. For a year I walked past it every morning and evening, pausing on the days I could see the peak. Almost the last thing I did before returning to the quietly rolling New England landscape was to get a tattoo of Rainier on my ankle. The lock screen of my phone is a photo of the peak I took from a mountain meadow within the park.

Some Japanese immigrants to the area have called Rainier 'Tacoma Fuji', but Mount Fuji is known for its symmetrical cone, and part of the beauty of Rainier to me is its distinct asymmetry—the prominences on its flanks would qualify as mountains in their own right. I don’t suffer from Stendhal Syndrome in its traditional form, but there are a few places in the world where I have to work hard not to be physically overcome by beauty. One is the Marin Headlands, and the view over the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Another is the east coast of Vancouver Island, looking over the Strait of Georgia towards Vancouver. And one is still pretty much every time I see Rainier. The beauty of San Francisco and of Cascadia is a wild beauty, the juxtaposition of human habitation and landscape, but one where the landscape holds its own. I was in Switzerland a few years ago, near Lausanne, and I've never been in a place that looked more like the tourist conception of the place. The mountains were high, sure, but the green velvet of pasture was spread high on their slopes, dotted with placid brown cows. The net result was one of pastoral domesticity, where the mountains were tamed. It was pretty, but it wasn't beautiful. The West Coast is beautiful.

But even before I set eyes on Rainier for the first time, I knew that it was dangerous. The primary risk isn't from a Mount St Helens-style eruption, but rather from lahars, the mudslides that would result when the heat from the eruption melts the glaciation on the peak. A hundred and fifty thousand people live nearby, in what appear to be gentle flat-bottomed river valleys but which are actually the paths of previous lahars. In 1985, twenty thousand people, including two-thirds of the population of Armero, Colombia, were killed by lahars resulting from the eruption of the Nevada del Ruiz volcano. Partly as a result of that tragedy, Rainier is the most instrumented mountain in the world, providing about forty minutes of warning to the nearest community, and schoolchildren there do volcano drills, fleets of school buses waiting to rush them out of the danger zone. The best estimates are that there’s a one-in-ten chance of lahar flows that make it as far as the Puget Sound lowlands within a human lifetime. And a repeat of the massive Osceola Mudflow, five thousand years ago, would send glacial mud as far as downtown Seattle, and cause tsunamis in the Sound and in Lake Washington.

The wildest of wild West Coast beauty: that Mount Rainier, the greatest physical threat to Seattle, is celebrated and beloved."
seattle  washingtonstate  2014  westcoast  landscape  mountrainier  cascadia  beauty  debchachra  toronto  california  vancouuver  britishcolumbia  charlieloyd 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How to get started contributing to a Humanitarian OpenStreetMap task
"Overview

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an open-source map of the world that anyone can edit. But like any map, it's incomplete.

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) helps organize people to improve the OSM map for crisis areas, mostly so aid workers can find their way around and make decisions about undermapped places. The data in these crisis areas is often very poor, or completely non-existent. Therefore any contribution you make at all will be a vast improvement, and could materially help people who are on the ground right now, looking at this data as you edit it, and deciding where to go and who to help.

There are many HOT tasks active at once. Right now the highest-priority tasks are Gaza and areas affected by the West African Ebola outbreak."

[Video tutorial by Charlie Loyd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvH02nwB_X4

See also: http://mapgive.state.gov/learn-to-map/
http://mapgive.state.gov/learn-to-map/ ]
osm  openstreetmap  peterrichardson  2014  humanitarianopenstreetmap  mapping  maps  howto  edg  charlieloyd 
august 2014 by robertogreco
6, 19: Favorites
"One of my favorite things on the web is favorites. Twitter, of course, but also bookmarks on Pinboard and everything else. I like browsing my own every few months. On Flickr – photos I starred because they remind me of a place. Because of a place I was reading about. Of a food I was reading about. Only because of the caption. Only despite the caption. Things by friends that I starred long before they were friends or I even recognized their names. Good examples of techniques I’ve doodled with – kite aerial photography, cyanotype, infrared, slitscan, …. Stars meaning “listen, I see what you were going for”. Stars on pictures of children I babysat. Stars meaning “yes, you caught what that friend looks like”. On photos of wonderful memories. On photos of me goofing with friends. On events I wish I’d been at. On friends doing brave, difficult, or beautiful things. On niche celebrities – just Bruno Latour or Robert Bringhurst being a person. Tricky satellite images starred as a kind of solidarity. This photo. Things starred because they exemplify something I dislike. Undistinguished snapshots of things I feel strongly about. A famous harbor seal, now passed, whom I hung out with sometimes. Things I starred as a side channel while conversing with their taker. Awfully clichéed shots for reasons other than the cliché. Photos, especially, that surprised me – that used a technique I dislike or a subject that bores me in a way that held my attention. And this is just Flickr, where I’m not particularly active or fast to star – my Twitter favorites are full of star-to-thank, star-to-bookmark, ….

(My one rule for starring things on Flickr is: it should be difficult to work out anything about my sexuality from my favorites page. Likewise: when considering whether to follow a stranger, I check their favorites. Certain kinds of creepth show up there before anywhere else.)

But of course better than my own favorites are my friends’ favorites. There’s a distinct and powerful joy in finding that a new friend long ago starred something that I did too. It’s such a splash: You noticed that one! But that’s only a small part of it. Mostly, for me, the fun is in scrolling past things that they care about more than I do, the things they starred as thanks, their cousin’s Etsy pictures, a whole series of something that they starred every single one of, not impatient, just moving along, but sometimes finding big troves of the most amazing stuff, things I never imagined, whole genres and esthetics that they must have obsessed over for a week, inside jokes, people they’re trying to help, parts of the world I’d never heard of, ambiguous things where I can’t tell at all how it’s being taken, new social vocabularies, communities whose names I knew but which I’d never seen in action.

Sometimes for me favorites are about the difficulty of defining what’s good. Sometimes it’s more just a worn-out metaphor but one I like: surfing."



"I’m at the edge of an important subculture that seems badly over-yelled and under-discussed. Hyperloop is too often either the tragic hero idea, martyred by a public that lacks imagination anymore, or the so-awful-we-don’t-even-have-to-discuss-why idea, and too rarely an “okay, let’s think about what this tells us about where we are today, beyond any eye-rolling” idea.

Regarding SV as a homogenous, historyless alien colony is useless whether you love it or hate it, and indeed is one of the reasons people think they need to choose between loving it or hating it.

[Deleted sentence: The greatest minds of my generation are repeating “The greatest minds of my generation are working on ways to make people click ads” like it’s clever.]

I’m reminded of an essay that @debcha mentioned in reply to the newsletter before last(?), The Distress of the Privileged. It connects with my tired argument that if you want to dismantle something, vigorously othering it is probably counterproductive. Cultivating precisely the empathy that it hasn’t earned tends to work because you learn where to put the knife. I think this holds whether the other is a small-time criminal, MRAs as a group, an invading nation – it’s scale-invariant. Treating people as people is not the same as complicity in their reprehensible decisions. It helps you stop them. “It’s not my responsibility to understand, it’s their responsibility to stop, and I’ll make them if I have to” is of course always valid response to injury, never to be silenced or scolded. But as a long-term strategy against something bigger than you are? It lacks. Or so I think, from a pretty insular point of view.

(Cf., for a very clear e.g., the appalling idea in recent American historiography/pedagogy that the Montgomery bus boycott was one cool lady’s random impulse rather than a brilliantly strategized campaign. It’s almost like the status quo has an interest in downplaying the value of careful tactics and solidarity, and likes to valorize exactly the kind of awful one-passionate-hero narrative that’s Ommatokoita’ed onto the eyes of our culture.)

Okay, one more angle on this and then I’ll stop: treating worrying companies (and agencies, and nonprofits) as pathological humans is something to be done carefully, not by default. They are at least as different from people as dogs are, and maybe as different as whales. I think a scary amount of work diverts its own force by uncritically accepting the identity metaphor, the #brand, of what it’s trying to attack. (There is certainly work that does it critically, for example @lifewinning’s astrological readings of surveillance agencies.) (This is connected to the above in that assholes, by making you treat them as assholes, can distract you from more effective methods of dispatching them.)"
favorites  email  charlieloyd  favoriting  flickr  stellar.io  twitter  pinboard  bookmarks  bookmarking  communication  2014  empathy  complexity  subcultures  privilege  siliconvalley  faving 
july 2014 by robertogreco
6, 12: Tiles
"Thinking about gaps.

Things that are interesting to a lot of people who are interested in things I am, and which I always enjoy hearing them talk about, but which I don’t go out of my way for on my own:

• Disney

• cyborgs

• architecture

Distinctions that many people in my position care about but I don’t:

• Typeface v. font. Desktop publishing ruined this; it’s over; it’s fine.

• “Photograph” for a unitary exposure v. “image” for everything else. I call push-broom and whisk-broom–acquired pixels photos in my head sometimes, and feel no shame. Satellite imagery is heavily processed before it looks like what we see, but so is a conventional photograph: film chemistry and Bayer demosaicing are quite elaborate and, often, less controlled and less eye-mimicking than many of the composites that are, to the pedant, mere images. (And oh, the long history of photomanipulation! Pull up some high-res scans of old negatives from the Library of Congress and sometimes you can see brushwork where something was fixed up. Ansel Adams was dodging and burning with what we would now think of as a heavy hand.)

• Jacket v. coat. I think one is longer? I don’t care.

Gaps and being willing to say no. It’s so admirable when someone has decided not to do something important but unnecessary. I know people who buy only one kind of each item of street clothes, people who refuse to follow the news, who never drive, who will not talk with anyone the least bit trollish, who teetotal without a particular medical or religious reason, who won’t get a smartphone, and so on. I can’t remember someone telling me one of these things that didn’t make me happy to hear. I think the value in these nos is mostly in the very small scale, where it lets people talk with themselves and find their own edges. I can see this as a political act but it helps to understand it as personal first."



"Michael Yahgulanaas has been doodling in the margins of Hokusai. For a sense of what he’s up to, here he is punching a little humanity through a smotheringly dumb TV profile."



"The archaeologist Beverley McCulloch’s description of the heavy-footed moa, quoted by Nic Rawlence on RNZ’s Our Changing World, which incidentally is a paragon of science broadcasting (the interviewer, Veronika Meduna, used the word “poo”, ★★★★☆, and, instead of playing dumb, asked questions showing that she was trained in a relevant field, ★★★★★), just as their Spectrum is a paragon of general-interest broadcasting, and so on. If you share a desire to enjoy Radiolab and The Moth and such but just can’t, I commend RNZ to you. Without ever using the words, they connected the new kiwi bird cladistics study that’s been making the rounds with pressing issues of the anthropocene. Something good and strange is in New Zealand’s water lately."
charlieloyd  2014  gaps  knowledge  delight  newzealand  radio  michaelyahgulanaas  radiolab  themoth  npr  rnz  notknowing  unknowing  blindspots  ignorance  typefaces  fonts  conversation 
june 2014 by robertogreco
6, 5: Hills
"The systemic problems – climate change, mass violence, police state, you name ’em – will not be solved from any single angle. One necessary one, I think, is sushi knife cuts across the idea that we are restoring the world. Sometimes, narrowly, this makes some sense: we can say, for example, that there was a past in which there were better women’s health options in Texas than there are today, and use it as an example. But most of the past sucked real bad, or was not a stable object. The good king to whom Robin Hood was loyal was, in the historical record, what we would now call a bad king. And the implication that we can turn the Anthropocene back into the Holocene is simply false, and a dishonest goal; we have to talk about how we’re never going home, but if we work hard we might make a new home that’s better than what we’ve begun to trek into.

A DM conversation with ace reporter Robinson Meyer (gently edited for clarity):

Rob: Have you played 2048, Dan W edition yet?

Me: No.

Rob: It is a hoot.

Rob: http://games.usvsth3m.com/2048/dan-w-edition/

Me: Astonishing.

Me: Died at 2656.

Me: What can we say about the people who think this is fun and clever?

Me: Can we make a more interesting description than “people who have heard of the New Aesthetic”?

Rob: Confusion: Do you think it was not fun and clever, or are you trying to name the very real category?

Me: I think it’s extremely fun and clever.

Me: And I’m trying to get at what this kind of enjoyment is beyond “people out there share my obsessions with certain ‘boring’/‘weird’ things”.

Rob: Haha, okay. Right. Yeah.

Rob: My shorthand is, indeed, usually “weird.” But that in itself is a shorthand for estrangement.

Rob: Estrangeurs.

Me: I sometimes think if it as: bulk people.

Me: People interested in mass transportation, mass communication, massive slabs of data.

Rob: The Blurry Commons.

Rob: (I think it is common-in-bulk—it being not enough to revive the old, say, Judt-esque progressive adoration for trains.)

Rob: The Fans of Connected Signifiers of Disconnection and Vice Versa.

Rob: Shirepunk.

Rob: Domesdayists.

Me: Census-botherers.

Rob: Because it’s partly about working on problems at 45 degree angles to climate.

Rob: Whigpunk.

Rob: But actually this time.

Me: Ack, perfect.

Rob: That’s what it feels like to be thought-led.

It might also be this thing or not. It might be about scale – the feeling of something on the edge between subitizable and not. (It also has the grace of something made by a friend for a friend – which animates some of my favorite light art, even where it lacks other merits.)"
scale  charlieloyd  2014  whigpunk  newaesthetic  climatechange  mailart  tuitui  micronations  robinsonmeyer  wendellberry  systemsthinking  systems  decline  disaster  lauraseay  jasonstearns  gérardprunier  catharinenewbury  davidnewbury  séverineautesserre  africa  genocide  southsudan  sudan  rwanda  centralafricanrepublic  injustice  libertarianism  normanborlaug  anthropocene 
may 2014 by robertogreco
wp.md
"1. Whigpunk is to whig-ness (i.e., the belief in the improvability of humans’ material conditions) as cyberpunk is to cyber. It’s not for, it’s not against, it’s not inside, it’s not outside. It’s the observation of the friction and turbulence where the idea touches the world.

2. Two people who disagree about what whigpunk is and means can both be doing whigpunk. Whigpunk itself is not an explicit macropolitical stance. That said,

3. The tension in whigpunk that gives it power is about the idea of progress, and therefore time and ethics. Whigpunk is a home-on-the-road for people who have had the technoutopianism/Luddism/solutionism/legibility arguments many times without finding a comfortable conclusion.

4. One path to whigpunk is to think about the fine textures of big uncool things. Epcot is embarrassing because it’s infused with a naïve and colonialist vision; to contemplate the epiphenomena and physicality of Epcot is whigpunk.

5. Whigpunk codes male. One angle of this is that it’s interested in the connection between white-color ideas and blue-collar implementations, and the culturally visible people in white- and blue-collar jobs are men. In this way, there’s a certain amount of boys-playing-with-dumptrucks in the whigpunk scene. But the fact that washing machines changed politics by giving women more free time is whigpunk, Björk’s Post is whigpunk, My Little Pony is whigpunk, and Creation Under Capitalism is maybe The Whigpunkest Thing, broken images and all.

6. Whigpunk can be connected with trainspotting, with the New Aesthetic, with dataviz, with the present renaissance of person-scale urbanism, and with many other things. Whigpunk is apart in that (1) it’s not really bound in time; going down to the harbor to watch the ships unload is equally whigpunk whether it happens in 1650 or 2050, and (2) it’s inherently silly."
whigpunk  charlieloyd  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
18. Webstock 2014 Talk Notes and References - postarchitectural
[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/91957759 ]
[See also: http://www.webstock.org.nz/talks/the-future-happens-so-much/ ]

"I was honored to be invited to Webstock 2014 to speak, and decided to use it as an opportunity to talk about startups and growth in general.

I prepared for this talk by collecting links, notes, and references in a flat text file, like I did for Eyeo and Visualized. These references are vaguely sorted into the structure of the talk. Roughly, I tried to talk about the future happening all around us, the startup ecosystem and the pressures for growth that got us there, and the dangerous sides of it both at an individual and a corporate level. I ended by talking about ways for us as a community to intervene in these systems of growth.

The framework of finding places to intervene comes from Leverage Points by Donella Meadows, and I was trying to apply the idea of 'monstrous thoughts' from Just Asking by David Foster Wallace. And though what I was trying to get across is much better said and felt through books like Seeing like a State, Debt, or Arctic Dreams, here's what was in my head."
shahwang  2014  webstock  donellameadows  jamescscott  seeinglikeastate  davidgraeber  debt  economics  barrylopez  trevorpaglen  google  technology  prism  robotics  robots  surveillance  systemsthinking  growth  finance  venturecapital  maciejceglowski  millsbaker  mandybrown  danhon  advertising  meritocracy  democracy  snapchat  capitalism  infrastructure  internet  web  future  irrationalexuberance  github  geopffmanaugh  corproratism  shareholders  oligopoly  oligarchy  fredscharmen  kenmcleod  ianbanks  eleanorsaitta  quinnorton  adamgreenfield  marshallbrain  politics  edwardsnowden  davidsimon  georgepacker  nicolefenton  power  responsibility  davidfosterwallace  christinaxu  money  adamcurtis  dmytrikleiner  charlieloyd  wealth  risk  sarahkendxior  markjacobson  anildash  rebeccasolnit  russellbrand  louisck  caseygollan  alexpayne  judsontrue  jamesdarling  jenlowe  wilsonminer  kierkegaard  readinglist  startups  kiev  systems  control  data  resistance  obligation  care  cynicism  snark  change  changetheory  neoliberalism  intervention  leveragepoints  engagement  nonprofit  changemaki 
april 2014 by robertogreco
6, 6: Asymmetrical information
"I have so little interest in grand pictures of the world with nothing to say about children. This assumption in cultural discussions that people step out of a wall sometime between 18 and 21, well, it’s not good enough; it’s not serious enough. If you want to talk to me about surveillance and censorship, tell me about baby monitors and when you would let kids in your care read 4chan. Your approach to that matters more than your approach to the finer connotations of the word “Orwellian”, e.g., whether the figure of thzzzZZZZZZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZ[snort]ZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZZZZ."

(Removed from this point a good deal of grumping about people who use arguments in the form “we should be treated like adults” without saying what that means to them other than “down with bad stuff, up with good stuff”, nor how non-adults should be treated; and then kind of halfheartedly trying to shame people for treating Foucault’s geneological method as if it were The Path And The Way Of Criticism rather than a useful tonic; and getting sad that sometimes children’s experience is treated as if it counts only insofar as it will be remembered by the adult they will become.)

"Something I tell myself: Assume you’re teaching. More often than thinking “Oh, I figured something out, time to share”, ask “What am I teaching right now, and am I doing it well?” Sometimes what I’m teaching is not pretty: “Don’t expect too much from strangers” or “Everyone has their quirks” or worse. All the more reason to think about it.

Like a lot of intrapersonal advice, this is tricky to explain: too obvious, too precious, too odd. The principle comes partly from reflecting that many of the most important things I’ve learned were from incidental actions of people working on something else. (I remember flipping through my mother’s MTW and learning about graphic design, poetry, pedagogy – everything but gravity.) It also comes from an idea put well in XKCD 1053.

(And this gives us one of the distinctive flavors of work made for the internet: layerednes. A blog post about some small issue will carry coded gestures to connections with highfalutin’ academic work; deniable hints of limits and risks might appear when a conscientious engineer is made to work hard-sell PR; and who among us has not seen something on a controversial topic flying a big red herring to distract zealots? And we have art like this [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/for-shame-the-giant-poster-that-shows-drone-pilots-the-people-theyre-bombing/360257/ ], which works entirely by lying about its audience: that isn’t for drone operators at all, but by saying it is, it works on its actual audience: people like me.)"



"One of the things that’s been bringing OODA to mind is what you might call legibility capture. Let’s take it as read that we’re surrounded by giant translucent surfaces, and we’re trying to see inside them, and to understand their shapes and connections, in order that we might discern what their deal is. They meanwhile are examining us, covertly, with consent, obliquely, loudly, by proxy, for unknown future use, and in many other ways, which is worrying.

There are many ways to think about this; for me it’s phrased most naturally as “legibility” in the way that John C. Scott has developed it. His brilliance is perhaps fogged by his prose style, which with time becomes its own painfully funny effect, a kind of Marx Brothers–esque absurdism, as he over and over again, in the same book, with placid deadpan, re-introduces legibility as if for the first time.

(Thinking of this becase a couple friends spent the weekend at some kind of Data Tragicomedy conference – my ignorance of the details is a small pleasure but a sincere one – which it pleased me to believe consisted entirely of artbros in their off-blacks standing up, clearing their throats, smiling, and saying “I’ve discovered – or perhaps invented – something that I like to call ‘legibility’…”.)

One of the things that OODA is concerned with, in its productively unsatisfying way, is initiative. In go, this is sente. Alice has sente in a game with Bob when she’s made a move that Bob must respond to, instead of building his own position. To hold sente is to keep Bob on the defensive, so that he can’t plan or build; he’s always a turn behind. (Every time I think about this stuff I’m startled again by the illumination of psychological violence, from domestic abuse to torture-as-interrogation.) Boyd wants you, the student of OODA, to have initiative, because to have initiative is to have options. (Cough cough Nussbaum’s capability approach cough cough sneeze.) You have initiative because you can read the opponent better than they can read you, and so you can at least partly decide how they read you.

Skip this paragraph if you like me are easily disturbed by violence. This gruesome Amnesty briefing on the violence this year in northern Nigeria and this SSP report on the famous body bags in Kadugli both explain (partly) how they did their satellite imagery analysis to identify or confirm mass graves. This is in an obvious way highly responsible: conclusions should be presented with the evidence that led to them; theories should be falsifiable. It also bears risks, because by showing methods to identify mass graves they necessarily show how to hide from those methods, and even how to play into them by creating fake graves to distract and discredit.

That risk is the thing. It’s what I think about when people are like “Ah ha, I figured out I can look at tail numbers, or shell casing markings, or IP addresses owned by spyware companies; now we know what’s up!” Once they know you know but before you know they know you know, you’re at their mercy; they’re feeding you. Legibility capture.

I don’t know. I keep thinking of XKCD 1053, and the kind of empathy it calls for, and of the epigrams Joe Armstrong throws around about Erlang (e.g., p. 9):

The world is parallel
The world is distributed
Things fail

I said at the beignning of the year that my theme would be scale: communicating the sizes of stuff. I’ve done very little about that. I keep remembering things, little parcels of spacetime. Sleeping on a boat under a Saltillo blanket, listening to a flag’s rope ring against the pole in the wind. With a flu, in a parked Volkswagen Golf, reading Elfwood. When you GPS-track yourself you start to find that a lot of what it tells you is about where you weren’t."
charlieloyd  2014  teaching  learning  xkcd  legibility  scale  allsorts  learningallthetime  howwelearn  howweteach  perspective  understanding  layerdness  datadrama  jamescscott  violence  ooda  johnboyd  competition  initiative  offense  empathy  children  legacy  surveillance  censorship  babymonitors  4chan  adulthood  childhood  parenting 
april 2014 by robertogreco
6, 4: Block quotes
"So! In some of NASA’s actions you can detect a flavor of institutional hypervigilance against controversy. For example, most of what I’m in contact with is EO (Earth Observation, under what to my great pleasure was once called MTPE, Mission to Planet Earth), and for them climate change is a big, big deal. But they have to bend over backwards not to say anything that could be interpreted as even a little partisan, which is a tough move when simple, contextualized facts are very partisan. Likewise, two different people have politely reminded me that their communications are subject to FOIA, giving me the impression that they feel they have to avoid volunteering opinions outside narrow technical topics, even when they’re squeaky clean of any bias that could possibly affect the quality and independence of their work.

The impression that one sometimes gets is of a sticky note on the monitor frame reading “Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear read out in Congress by someone who intends to defund your program”.

It’s a shame. You add friction to people’s work when you make them second-guess themselves and not express even well-supported, carefully framed, intellectually honest, professionally relevant opinions.

I wish the squint-inducing sunlight were felt in agencies whose failures cause secret murders, foolish wars, and the creation of surveillance states more than in an agency whose most salient failures so far – seventeen suited astronaut deaths – were caused by institutional lock-up more than by anything else. It should scare us how much Columbia was a repeat of Challenger: in both cases, a good understanding of the problem and solution was diffused within NASA, but it never converged on the point where it was needed. Too little jidoka. It’s not that transparency causes Crew Module Catastrophic Events, but there’s a chain from “we need to make sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth” through “let’s make sure we have solid procedures for everything” to “no, don’t just say ‘STOP! I see a problem that could kill the crew.’ to your boss; write up a nice report in rock-solid formal language” that has to be broken somewhere.

Astronaut deaths are the most salient failure, but to my mind the much bigger one is the failure to go further, which is the fault of the Executive and Legislative branches. One illustration of the problem is the Landsat program. As a series of satellites, you might assume it would be NASA’s responsibility to manage the space side of things. Nope. Obama reached over with scissors and glue to move Landsat to its own authority within the Geological Survey, because we was rightly counseled that Congress (and the presidency) cannot be trusted to fund NASA consistently enough to let it run Landsat. The consequence is very good: USGS’s Landsat operation is one of my stock examples when folks ask about doing open data right. But it bodes bogus of our handling of our primary space program when we have to take satellites away from it because we can’t trust ourselves to let it run them.

And so I see the hypervigilance as another face of the imposed institutional conservatism that has made NASA an anxious genius of an agency, never sure whether it will have the funding to do anything ambitious even after it’s been promised, tired of being scolded for not finishing what it doesn’t have the mandate to start, trying to get through a few short-sighted decades while doing justice to its domain. It’s amazing it’s as sure-handed as it is.

This, then, I think, is why we don’t see even more radical innovation from NASA: because Congress hates funding costly failures, even ones that are small and necessary parts of hugely worthwhile successes. And that’s why I doubt we’re anywhere close to the fail-hard/win-big r strategy program that Maly envisions. NSF grants are one good back door. Universal healthcare and a better social net in general is another: read Bill Gates’s “half” story and go ask a single mother who can’t afford daycare how she thinks the US economy is doing at letting her best ideas compete. I bet we’ll get there, but what happens between now and then still counts. America is waiting.

One of many causes for hope is that, even as its funding for outreach is cut, it’s NASA’s figured out how to put on a show on the web."
charlieloyd  2014  nasa  bureaucracy  universalhealthcare  healthcare  research  government  failure  science  hypervigilance  observation  imagery  congress  funding  landsat  usgs  remotesensing  earth  satellites  satelliteimagery 
march 2014 by robertogreco
6, 3: Seasteading
"So Jim is a blacksmith – a word I mostly hear these days in jokes about obsolescence. He lives on a small, rural island where he has the time and quiet to think and work very hard on small things that most people have not imagined. He is also one of the most globalized people I know. I’m counting people who had “major liquidity events” and whose Twitter profiles say their location is SoMa/SoHo or whatevs. Jim is narrowly specialized labor, enabled by things like oligopolistic global shipping companies.

And likewise, my family’s off-the-grid setup – solar panels, their own well, their own garden – relies on solar panel manufacturers, modern well-drilling rigs, and the internet.

Many visitors are offended by this. They have a rhetoric of simplicity that feels that e.g. buying gasoline to run a generator to have electric lights in winter is failing to live up to the promise of living in the woods. But for my family and others, that promise was never made. It’s a projection, an assumption, an outsider’s stereotype. They are not claiming or trying to be out of the world.

What do you get from living on a natural seastead oops I mean small island? Well, you get a different kind of time – a different set of distractions. Not simplicity, but a reallocation of complexity that suits some people. You get too many things to list here. The one I want to talk about is that you see your material dependencies more clearly. That is, you have to carry the gas that you buy. You know where your water comes from, even if it’s just as technologically mediated as a Brooklynite’s water – maybe more – because you have to replace the pump from time to time. It’s not that you have less of a supply chain, it’s that you pay more attention to it because you’re the last link in it. You unload your kit, your cargo, your stuff, from a literal-ass boat that goes across the water."

So here is what I can tell you: our material culture is vast. The substrate of comfortable, middle-class-as-portrayed-in-primetime American life is ginormous, far beyond anyone’s understanding in any depth. Years ago there was a Neal Stephenson Wired story called In the Kingdom of Mao Bell, from which I often think of the line (phrased in terms of Western culture, but mutatis mutandis):
For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.

Which is only to make a point that is easy to make but very hard to appreciate, and I have to practice making to myself in new ways all the time, re-estranging it to re-familiarize it: what we have going here, this system by which roads are paved, you can appeal a court ruling, you can just assume you got the right change back at Whole Foods, Whole Foods exists, etc., is so big and complicated that you can’t appreciate it. At best you can call upon cognitive intercessors, like thinky magazine features on the cold chain or whatever, to mediate between your grasp of the size of the culture and its reality. I say this as someone whose job is partly to look at enormous depictions of material culture – I mean staring at the Port of Tokyo–Yokohama, or Magnitogorsk, is kind of what I do all day, and I still take it for granted.

And the system has tremendous momentum. I am no historian, but my vague sense is that in recognizable form in the Euramerican sphere it goes back to things like the New Model Army and the aftermath of the French Revolution: the establishment of a bureauracy, i.e. a system of applied governance with accountability built in as paperwork and defined responsibilities, as opposed to something at best hollowed out like a nest of sticks inside feudalism.

And when I see bureaucracy around me doing things like getting all fetishistic about a piece of paper, I have to remind myself that yes, this is imperfect, but the point is that we enshrine the word, something roughly permanent and widely legible, as opposed to worshipping the squire, i.e., whatever he feels like today, that we can’t even examine directly to mutually identify and begin to debate whether it’s good. A whig history but I’m a whig."

[Related: http://masochuticon.com/2006/05/24/
via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/484597685396045824
in this thread: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/484483973767110656
follow-up http://tinyletter.com/vruba/letters/6-16-america-again ]
complexity  canon  interconnectedness  seasteading  frontier  waldronisland  bureaucracy  2014  charlieloyd  slow  change  purpose  purposefulness  civilization  interdependence  seeing  noticing  separateness  libertarianism  capitalism  globalization  materials  systems  systemsthinking  siliconvalley  laws  governance  government  society  nealstephenson  simplicity  distractions  bighere  dependencies  supplychains  legibility  illegibility  coffee  waldron  interconnected  interconnectivity 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf: Dear the Super Bowl
"Dear the Super Bowl,

It’s not your boringness that makes me mad that you’re everywhere. It’s your ethics. Watching people get paid millions of dollars to smack their heads together is not something I’d be comfortable with even if it were beautiful.

There are compelling stories everywhere, in everyone. We don’t need gladiatorial combat to expose them. If we like sweeping arcs and sudden reversals, there’s some really good animē out there. If we like feeling a sense of pride in our regions, there are many NGOs that could use us. If we like working off a little honest bloodlust, violent computer games are a great option with a far better public health profile. Those of us who enjoy sports per se can join local amateur leagues and have a grand old time.

But you, you are an engine that takes people’s feelings of companionship and courage and sells them. You can go now.

I’m not asking – as some people are – for you to stay out of my field of attention because I don’t care about you. It goes further. I am telling you, Super Bowl, that you are bad for people. My culture is celebrating concussions and genetic lotteries as a model for children and it gives me the fantods. Enough.

Hoping to never hear from you again,

Charlie"
charlieloyd  superbowl  2014  children  culture  values  violence  ethics  courage  sports 
february 2014 by robertogreco
gis-advice.md
"Find interesting people. You’ll learn a lot more from a great professor (or mentor, or friend, or tutorial) talking about something outside your specialty than you will from someone boring who’s working on exactly what you’re interested in. Don’t get insular! All the best artists I know have close scientist friends and vice versa.

That principle alone should expose you to enough interesting ideas that you will be able to see the most productive paths for yourself. I guess I could go on:

Look for real problems. “Let’s make a map of the furthest point from a McDonalds in each state” may be a useful exercise, but it’s not a real problem. Accurately measuring how earthquakes propagate is a real problem. Making sure that indigenous land rights are represented is a real problem. Finding early evidence of village destruction is a real problem. That doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time on scientific and humanitarian topics, especially as a student! But your work is valuable and should be spent on things you care about, even if they’re silly. If you learn to ask interesting questions that no one else is asking, you will get a good reputation among the people whom you would actually want to work for.

Learn as much statistics as you reasonably can. Trust me. Half the time I solve a tough technical problem it involves learning some stats, and then suddenly I see all these other places where that bit of knowledge applies. In fact, I’m making a note: I should learn more stats.

Read Edward Tufte’s books front to back several times, even the parts that don’t seem to have anything to do with maps."



"If you need to do some work (a course, a job) that you don’t believe in, fine, and try to learn something from it. Pay the bills. But don’t bring it on yourself. Don’t say “Well, Yoyodyne makes kitten-seeking missile guidance computers and their contract doesn’t allow side projects, but I need something solid on my résumé, so I’ll just spend four years there while I get on my feet.” It might work by chance, but odds are it’ll lead to selling out, burning out, and just generally being no use to yourself or anyone else. The GIS industry is a moving target: don’t aim for a good job, aim to invent it.

One of my coworkers came to the company from a project to map the history of the ancient Mediterranean; another got on the radar because he was mapping the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk. Our lead developer was a philosophy/studio art major. I dropped out. Very few of us majored in GIS or CS. But we all ended up here because each in our own way we fundamentally care about geography – place, space, and helping people work with representations of their world more easily. Of course we’re a startup so things are a little unusual, but really, to any company worth working for, showing initiative, carefulness, curiosity, and delight in geography itself matters so much more than any one item on your CV.

When people say “do what you love” they don’t mean “goof off and trust the world to provide”; they mean “you’ll be working below your abilities whenever you don’t have intrinsic motivation, so find it”.

Stick with open-source tools as much as reasonably possible. There are various advantages, but one is that in principle you can always look inside them and figure out exactly what they do. In practice that’s rarely easy, but it’s still valuable. You also get to share your work with a much larger community – given that maybe 3% of the population can afford a closed-source GIS package, 97% of Earth’s latent GIS talent is in the open-source world. Help bring it to fruition:

Teach. Any time anyone is paying attention to you, you’re teaching anyway, so it’s good to be deliberate about it. This might take the form of a notebook blog, for example: “Today I tried to do X with method Y, but got result Z. Will try again next week”. Teaching forces you to think carefully in certain ways (as does programming!). Teaching also helps you keep ethics in mind. Mapping is a special kind of power that most people cannot tell is being abused even when it is; having to justify something to a student is one technique to keep in mind the consequences of things."
charlieloyd  2013  advice  learning  interestedness  problemsolving  gis  teaching  inventing  understanding  unschooling  values  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  potential  interested 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Little Mystical - Some Obvious Things About Drawing Maps
"As single-user tools (since we’re talking about personal construction of knowledge), I wonder at the gap between the activity beneath the surface and what a visitor sees – a canonical-looking map or article.

Criticism of Wikipedia’s factual accuracy is often (1) It can change anytime! and (2) Any random person can change it! – which, well, are also the reasons why it works. But the disconnect happens because a unstable work, that’s under constant negotiation, looks stable. How many people look at Wikipedia history frequently? How many people understand – explicitly understand – that this is knowledge construction?

There are some obvious ideas that fall out of making that level of change clearer to people – you could highlight areas that have changed since you last looked at it, you could fade out areas under heavy negotiation and only show the stable parts by default.

Or with personal map-making / map-reading, when you have these layers of structured data, you can do a little paint-by-layers – say you’re drawing a map of your neighborhood, you drag out lines following the path of the main streets you walk on, and Sim-City-style, they get drawn-in using live data. You get both the explicitness of someone’s “drawing out” their map’s contours and the benefit of the latest satellite mapping data."

[Full conversation here: http://storify.com/rogre/legible-maps-of-places-and-infospaces ]
allentan  2013  maps  mapping  wikipedia  osm  openstreetmap  charlieloyd  comments  history  information  knowledge  undertsanding  change  accuracy  time  memory  legibility  infospace  infospaces 
august 2013 by robertogreco
disembodying the past to preserve it | Wynken de Worde
"The Library of Aleph is a twitter account that tweets the captions of prints and photographs in the Library of Congress’s digital collections. The tweets are nothing more than the captions—no images themselves, no links to them. Just the captions, with occasional reminders that anyone can find these images by searching the Library of Congress. Here’s one tweet: “House burning during Groveland reign of terror—Negroes driven from homes throughout area.” Here’s a screenshot of the corresponding record:

[image]

The Library of Aleph’s tweetstream the day after the verdict of George Zimmeran’s trial was announced was a relentless account of the history of African-Americans, from slavery through Jim Crow through the Civil Rights Movement. The person who created The Library of Aleph hadn’t created it for this purpose—it was really an account he put together to tweet out some of the interesting images he was finding without cluttering up his main account. But in his anger after the verdict, it became a platform for remembering and reliving our past.2

I bring it up here because of this paradox: what makes the tweets so powerful is that they are disconnected from the material object they’re referencing. They’re just captions. We might gloss over images but I think we pause over these. What are we reading? Who wrote the captions? What does it mean to choose these words to describe these images?

I love the way @libraryofaleph connects the past to the present and the present to the past. Things that speak to us today can speak to what spoke to us in the past, and digital technologies can bring them together. But what I really take out of this in terms of what cultural heritage organizations can do with digital tools to preserve our past is that this is an account that came not from the Library of Congress, but from an unaffiliated user. The Library of Congress did all the hard work in collecting these works, in digitizing them, in creating their metadata, in making them discoverable, and then in making it open so that somebody else could do with it something powerful.

And it’s that that cultural organizations need to think about in the use of the digital objects we are creating. We need to make them open so that other people can do things with them that it would never occur to us to do ourselves. Preserve your data, create your metadata carefully, and then release it. Make it open so that it can be used, so that we can learn from it, and so that it can continue to be discovered by future users."
history  technology  archives  sarahwerner  charlieloyd  libraryofaleph  loc  libraryofcongress  twitter  culture  heritage  objects  digitalobjects  2013  books  digitalpreservation 
july 2013 by robertogreco
A Little Landsat Tour
"Here are some pretty things in a swath of imagery that Landsat 8 took on Tuesday. Scroll down – not too fast"
maps  mapping  landsat8  landsat  charlieloyd  storytelling  geography  data  visualization  theviewfromabove 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - Meadows
"And so

This is what I think of when people talk about the anthropocene, and reintroducing extinct species, and geoengineering, and so on and so forth. When they speak from the assumption that up to now we haven’t been seriously involved in nature, I want to show them a meadow."
charlieloyd  naturalhistory  nature  conservation  conservancies  2013  islands  forests  meadows  culture  history  anthropocene  extinction 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - A garden in Chelyabinsk and walking
"The small acts – where do they go? This garden, at this moment, found its way into a famous and stable repository of knowledge. Its neighbors in space and time did not, as far as I know. And even this moment of this garden has lost context. Are those blueberries or cranberries? Why? Who is the man in the white shirt? We could get some answers if we looked hard enough, but not all of them.

Most of life disappears. The small acts barely happen even once. They are unnamed, like gusts of wind. They are transient, like waves. They are mortal, like us.

Walking, because it happens in the ordinary human scale, puts you in these things. You pass gardens like this one, and friends chatting drowsily in the park, and alleys with kickstood children’s bikes, knowing that most of what you notice will never be felt again, by you or anyone. Your pace and your pulse go a little faster than a second hand, sliding the world into the past at comprehensible speed.

And it’s continuous. I can forget, after a plane flight or a car ride, that the place I come to is connected, physically, by a chain of real places, with the place I came from. It’s the realness of the between that I lose. Walking does not make me the perfect seer. It cannot balance me between identifying with the things I see and respecting their otherness. But it lets me try. I can’t look at this garden without imagining that I walked up to it."
walking  charlieloyd  life  moments  transience  ephemeral  slow  scale  huamnscale  2013  gardens  living  otherness  space  time  memory  memories  actions  acts  speed  travel  passage  place  human  humans  ephemerality 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - An History of the Cloudless Atlas
"I’m writing this in a single pass. If I went back I would think of people I’m obviously leaving out. Pretty much everyone I know had something kind or useful to say to me about this project. But I think you see my point here – this project worked out well not because of anything special I did, but because I was surrounded by supportive and brilliant people. I think that if more people were as lucky in their friends as I am, we would see a lot more cool work in the world.

So. I’ve seen people say some really flattering things about me in comments over the last week. They are kind, but they’re mostly based on misunderstandings of the facts. If you’re tempted to celebrate me personally for this highly collaborative work, may I ask that you direct your attention instead to noticing people around you who could use a hand on some little project."
charlieloyd  humility  collaboration  2013  mapbox  cloudlessatlas  ego  glvo  wdg  srg  noticing  support  help  friends  howwelearn  howwework  kindness 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Garden | Contents Magazine
"Tagore’s influence scattered into the world, beloved but uncollected, like the impromptu stanzas that he wrote on admirers’ paper scraps while touring. He is in politics and activism, hidden behind the image of his friend Mohandas Gandhi, whom he held back from many ill-advised projects. He is in education via Montessori, and in economics via Sen and the Grameen Bank. He is especially in literature: via Anna Akhmatova, Bertolt Brecht, T. S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, Victoria Ocampo—a reader could live many happy years on books by his admirers. Kawabata, who wrote The Master of Go, was a particular fan."



"The archives are best just before sleep, as memory and imagination take sway. Every archive has an intended logic, a day logic, with well-defined topics, alphabetical orderings, hierarchical taxonomies, or cross-referenced indexes. At night we see less of what is intended and more of what is there. "



"Archives cut up the understandings we make of things as we live them. As fragments, distant pieces of the world can find each other. When we visit the archives, we are visited by what arises among the fragments: by memories with their own power, by coincidences, by hidden patterns and new understandings. As we step out of the archives into everyday life, and back and forth, like we cycle between dreaming and waking, we stitch our own seams."
charlieloyd  dreams  archives  writing  memory  memories  seams  2013  contentsmagazine  rabindranathtagore  tagore  darkmatter  taxonomy  night  understanding  everyday  everydaylife  fragments  assemblage  bricolage  patterns  patternsensing  patternrecognition  dreaming  sleep  monetssori  mariamontessori  grameenbank  victoriaocampo  tseliot  bertoldbrecht  annaakhmatova  pabloneruda  gandhi 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - Wealth, risk, and stuff
"The only way to own very little and be safe is to be rich."
charlieloyd  poverty  wealth  minimalism  2013  risk  society  possessions 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - Lichen names
"Yesterday I happened across that Eames promotion for the SX-70 for the first time. It reminded me, among many things, of an old friend, now dead – Bob Rodieck.

My high school was my mother (a qualified teacher), our neighbor R., and me. One of the classes was to make a book on our island’s natural history. When we were planning it, we visited Bob on an extremely gray spring day to talk about desktop publishing, because he’d been talking about how he was writing a book himself. (I may have the timeline slightly wrong here. Please consider this an As I Remember It story.)

We explained what we wanted to do. Bob, who was a freshly emeritus professor, scratched his stubble and leaned forward, then leaned back. He asked if we knew the difference between vector and raster graphics. I started explaining how they’re actually fairly isomorphic, since pixels can be represented as squares and, conversely, control points are in a discrete space, and from then on we were friends. It was Bob who turned me on to Tufte, and I turned him on to Bringhurst.



The natural history book was a well chosen project. We interviewed a lot of the oldest and most eccentric people on the island. They had records, written or in memory, about when flowers used to bloom, where the clams used to live before they were depleted, how many eagles used to nest on the point, how the old Samish woman had treated leather, when the last puffin was seen, what time of year the beaver showed up, and so on. There was the mystery of the flying squirrel.

We got a lot of very guarded mushroom knowledge from Dorothy H., who was in her eighties and roughly three times as vigorous and alert as I was. It’s really hard to come by good mushroom knowledge, because the people careful enough to understand mushrooms tend to be careful about risking other people on possibly poisonous food. Dorothy played her cards close to her chest.



Bob eventually finished his book, which was called The First Steps in Seeing. It was very well received, but as far as I can tell never sold well – Amazon has only four reviews, though they’re all five-star. I think it’s because he wasn’t around to promote it. He’d told me this wonderful story about graphic design and experimental design once: He went to get a check-up. He was given a form to fill out that included dietary habits. He said that he was about to check “1 serving of green vegetables/day” when he noticed that the checkbox itself was red! He figured that, being of northern European stock, he was adapted to fewer greens, and checked the first box that wasn’t red, 3 servings, and called it good. Not long after finishing the book, he was diagnosed with gut cancer.

Towards the end, he was on the island resting when he started having an unusual type of trouble moving his eyes. He said it was clearly a certain potassium channel failing, and it was time to go back to Seattle and die.

I think that, had he been around to promote it and put out a second edition, his book would be a classic now. It’s in the details and how they’re subordinated to the big-picture view. He drew all the illustrations himself. He chose the spot colors. He thought very hard about what path through the material he could provide that would be easiest for the beginner but pass the best trailheads for those who went further. He threw a lot of textbook conventions out the window and never missed them. He gave a crap but didn’t give a fuck.

Dorothy’s reluctance to tell us which mushrooms we could eat drove us to the classic texts, David Arora’s books. We could use him as a lever on her – “Arora says …; is that really true?”. In other fields we found other guidebooks: Pojar & MacKinnon on plants, Love’s Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast.

If you don’t spend a lot of time with natural history guidebooks, you might not know that the best ones have voice – authorial voice. It’s necessary, I think, to make a book that’s basically a huge list of details interesting enough to pay attention to. And I suspect you’re unlikely to excell in mycology, botany, or marine biology unless you have a sense of perspective. If you are humorless, it’s a lot easier to be a businessperson than to spend three weeks in a tent, looking at little tufts of fungus–alga symbionts.

It’s the big picture and the little picture. It’s Philip Morrison’s speech at the end of that Polaroid film. It’s the SX-70 letting you be more inside experience, less concerned with problems of representation, in something more than a tree or a net. It’s an idea of technology that seems a little dangerous and very good to me. It reminds me of Twitter a little. Lately there I appreciated a map of surf conditions from Bob’s son, and reconnected with my fellow student R.’s cousin."
charlieloyd  highschool  projects  projectbasedlearning  pbl  naturalhistory  lichen  names  naming  2013  memory  learning  education  books  writing  teaching  sx-70  philipmorrison  polaroid  mushrooms  bobrodieck  unschooling  deschooling  sight  seeing  memories  imaging  photography  publishing  promotion  fun  play  words  wordplay  design  davidarora  trevorgoward  brucemccune  delmeidinger  science  interestedness  interestingness  interested 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf: Anonymous asked: How the hell do you find all these interesting things you post to your reading Twitter? How do you go searching for these veins?
"Veinily is a useful way of seeing it. You never find an interesting thing on its own. And things are rarely interesting in themselves: everything makes sense as a product of its causes, after all. What are interesting are things in certain contexts, making connections that you could not have anticipated, doing kinds of things you did not know could be done.

Ignore rebels. Ignore lawgivers. Look for people who are sincerely willing to be either or neither, as the situation demands. Look for ones who (1) love the world as it is and (2) see how to make it better. People who rely on only one of those qualities tend to be more famous, more firework-y, and uninteresting."
learning  life  truth  charlieloyd  reading.am  veins  interestingness  curiosity  unschooling  deschooling  education  discovery  serendipity  process  rules  rulemaking  laws  rebels  fame  context  connections  connectivism  2013 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Politicizing Sandy · on Env
"Everything will change. The climate, our response, and my response to our response will be different in twenty years. It will never be solved. People will still die of one thing or another. There will be politics, valid and not, and wildfires, preventable and not. We have no cause to imagine that there’s an easy way to keep billions of humans healthy on a healthy planet. But we can free their hands. We can be, in Salk’s phrase, good ancestors.

There are many scenarios. The one I like best is where large groups of well-informed people, openly and as consensually as possible, accepting differences of motivation and style, build climate stewardship into the economic systems of our species.

I won’t leave you with an act now! message. I would rather you didn’t think of this as an external goal, but as something you bring everywhere – to work, in public – the way you might carry any other serious ethical commitment. The right time to start politicizing the climate is whenever you do it."
jonassalk  ethics  economics  complexity  systems  algore  climate  kolkata  nyc  bangladesh  williammorris  richardfeynman  politics  climatechange  2012  hurricanesandy  charlieloyd  stewardship  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Time-Folded Pelicans
"Take a 30-second video of birds flying around. Imagine it as a physical piece of film: 30 seconds × 30 frames per second = 900 frames. Now cut the film every half a second (15 frames), stack these short clips, and run them through the projector overlapping. That’s essentially what this is.

More technically, it’s a lighten composition (pixelwise maximum) on all frames such that frame number % 15 = n for n in 0 through the number of frames ÷ 15. (I tried with 30 instead of 15 and it was different but also interesting. Presumably it will depend a lot on the subject; this is the first thing I tried.) You can spot that it’s a simple lighten instead of something more sophisticated if you look at the pelicans just as they dive – when they should be dark gray, they disappear."
photography  video  birds  pelicans  2012  charlieloyd  oregon  astoria  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
Not war and war: politics and environmentalism · on Env
"By embiggening the import of national abstractions, it pulls us away from good opportunities to work on simple, tangible, everyday things."

"In another place, working on simple, tangible, everyday things is the way to death. It’s called environmentalism, which exemplifies a lot of its problems."

"We encourage each other to feel responsible for our cultural ecology at the largest scale – Roe v. Wade, science v. faith, welfare v. laissez-faire. We should make as big a fuss tending the culture right in front of us – raising children, jury duty, block parties.

We encourage each other to feel responsible for the ecology right in front of us – litter, gas milage, sorting the recycling. We should work as hard on ecology at the largest scale – mass-sequestering CO2, figuring out what to do about the 2 billion people who want cars for the first time, replanting the Amazon.

Politics should be less warlike. Environmentalism should be more."

[See http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3605059 ]

[Update 12 May 2013: See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:8a776525a919 ]
misappropriatedenergy  society  civics  distractions  wahtmatters  hwotolive  scale  politics  environmentalism  environment  local  slow  small  2009  charlieloyd  global 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Two talks about data on Env
"Both of these discuss the limits of data visualization and indeed data and indeed knowledge. It’s not hard to find people claiming that we don’t know very much, but these two are experts at figuring out and showing what we know. Skepticism about the power of scatterplots means something serious – is more than sophomoric nihilism – when it comes from them.

I hope these might be news of a fresh wave of data work: analysis and visualization that retains a sense of play, but also admits its responsibility as rhetoric and is more able to expose its own assumptions and omissions. In my head I’ve been calling this data with context, but I think we need something catchier."
patterns  patternrecognition  sensemaking  rhetoric  interpretation  design  skepticism  designinggeopolitics  context  datawithcontext  analysis  dataanalysis  usmanhaque  eyeo  jenlowe  visualization  data  2012  charlieloyd  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
Making smart on Env
"Smart people can take something complex and express it faithfully in different, especially simpler, terms. They can interpret and reinterpret. If you want to make something smart, it’s tempting to do smartness to your topic until you’ve condensed it into some admirably lucid interpretation, then hand that to the audience and wait for the applause. Sometimes this is what’s needed. But it isn’t how to make smart things. A smart thing is something for a smart person. However many interpretations you put in it, however fertile they are, you leave room for more.

You do this because you respect what you are interpreting and you do it because you respect your audience. It’s a lot like being considerate. And that’s how you make smart things."
making  writing  subjectivities  balance  interpretation  dryness  comments  audience  clever  cleverness  criticism  superiority  disdain  milankundera  kitsch  storytelling  airs  malcolmgladwell  ted  smartness  authenticity  entertainment  art  nervio  thomaskincade  beauty  humor  neilgaiman  2012  consideration  smarts  smart  charlieloyd 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Draftastic
"Draftastic is a new kind of collaborative editor. We make it simple for any number of people to edit the same document at once without getting in each other’s way.

Co-authoring a paper? Copyediting the next big novel? Brainstorming that business plan? Sick of mailing Word files back and forth? Draftastic can help.

Draftastic lets everyone type in the same document at once, but will never let anyone type over you. Simple as that. You can learn more in our Q & A, but the best way to learn about it is to try it with a friend."
nickblanchard-wright  draftastic  co-authoring  etherpad  writing  collaborative  collaborativewriting  charlieloyd  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
My career on Env
"If I hated these pieces, I would say they were full of bathos, self-seriousness, and chaos. And I would be right. And I would be missing the point that these qualities are what make two quite different essays both brilliant to me, because even when I resist their points, they push me along axes that I did not know to look for. This would not happen if they told me what I already knew of.

What they say matters to me because they have become vulnerable by putting things in their own terms and risking overreach…

I participate in certain subcultures where a lot of weight is put on being smart and getting smarter. But it seems to me that for an awful lot of people trying to do good things, IQ is not a limiting factor. If you are smart but ignorant or smart but lack empathy, you are only better at coming up with justifications for the ways in which you are wrong."
careers  doing  making  leisure  leisurearts  labor  generalists  creativegeneralists  polymaths  humanity  humanism  intelligence  overreaching  overreach  craigmod  erinkissane  vulnerability  empathy  2012  charlieloyd  artleisure  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
GPS presentation pre-intro
"Hi! Here you will find slides from a short presentation on GPS tracks that I gave at Portland’s sixth dataviz meetup, 19 October 2011. They may be a bit hard to understand as-is – to emphasize internal patterns and relationships, I deliberately left out things like basemaps and axis labels. You might want to try following along with this video of excerpts from the talk, in which I attempt to break the world’s record for saying “like”. I want to make a more complete, coherent, and rigorous showcase of this data and the ways I like to work with it, but sadly I’m embedded in a manifold where time is at a high premium."

[Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiXJRqm6BSc ]
geodata  data  2011  dataviz  walking  oregon  portland  quantifiedself  mapping  maps  gps  charlieloyd  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
Think about Facebook: An angry reverie on software on Env
"Here’s what I’m sick of. When I talk to people about applied philosophy of technology, they get apologetic. Hardware techs feel guilty for liking to go on hikes without electronics. Crunchy folk feel guilty for using e-mail instead of postcards. It throws me, as if they’re confessing to victimless sins of omission in cults they’ve only heard of. Where is it written that we should take cameras on hikes or that postcards are necessarily better? For goodness’ sake, it’s our culture. If it chafes, let it out. If it drags, take it in. If it has loose threads, cut them off or tie them up or learn to like them – but quit apologizing and take some responsibility for your needs and tastes. Make, own, and remake your approach to technology."

"Software is written by people, for people. Sometimes it really sucks. But it’s our suck. We make it, we own it, and we can remake it. This means me, and this means you."
ownership  making  responsibility  via:tealtan  2010  humanism  software  skeuomorph  skiamorphs  ipad  hypercard  philosophy  culture  facebook  charlieloyd  2012  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco

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