robertogreco + corporations   94

Semantic Drain and the Meaninglessness of Modern Work
"Stop calling your social media manager a "guru""

"When I was on staff at the International Business Times in 2015, I had an editor who hated jargon. "If you use the word 'space,'" he said once, "you better fucking be talking about outer space." I did my part by creating a Jargon Jar. Into the jar clanked coins every time one of us used "content" or "space" or whatever dumb MBA or tech neologism had been handed to us by sources who sounded like—and were mostly nothing more than—hucksters."

[image: @Galadriel1971: "Trust is changing. Companies like Uber are changing the paradigm by distributing trust @rfordonsecurity @ForcepointSec #ForcepointCLF #cybersecurity @fedscooop"]

Really, jargon isn't all that far off from slang—vocabulary in use within a particular industry, as opposed to a more organic culture. Jargon is the reason air traffic control memes are funny in a bewildering sort of way; it is how an industry talks to itself, creating what feels like a subculture in an environment where the elements of real culture are often prohibited. The gradual creep of jargon outside of its intended industries, though, has heralded an even more unsettling linguistic phenomenon: semantic drain.

Languages mutate constantly; the meanings of words can shift dramatically over the course of just a few years. Take the word "stan," which came into popular use as a derogatory term for creepily obsessive fans thanks to an Eminem song about a creepily obsessed fan named Stan.* Creepily obsessed fans, offended, began to use the term themselves, ironically, and now usage in general is borderline positive. It's weird, and I'm not particularly happy about this particular change, but, well, what are you gonna do.

In the last four or five years, though, I have been seeing more and more words permeating the vernacular that do not have any real meaning—or, worse, words that once had a specific, tactile meaning being drained of that meaning by "corporate culture."

"Content" is the offender that springs most readily to mind. It's a catch-all now, hardly better than "stuff," for one-way communication: the listicle, the 6-second video, the 3,000-word article, the 45-minute video essay, the season of television. I use "content" as an insult, to designate writing I do that has no value. It's not the word's fault. Blame the steady descent of journalism into a hell where you're lucky to make $20 for a 300-word post, and the concomitant rise of advertising as the dominant form of communication in our world.

It's no longer enough to be a reporter, an editor—these titles carry with them the feel of specialization, as though their bearers are capable of doing "only" one thing. A "content strategist," though—that implies flexibility, a knowledge of a multitude of disciplines, the fortitude to work with brands, the ability to create video content that brings in far more ad dollars per 1,000 viewers than words alone on a web page.

You can see a couple different etymologies for this new usage. Most online publications have a content management system that contains text and photos and other elements used in stories; journalists love inflicting their jargon onto the public (I am as guilty of this as any). Or take juicy-mummy capitalist Sumner Redstone’s famous declaration that “Content is king”—referring to the actual content of a movie or TV series, as opposed to the delivery method or format. Journalists and analysts and people on television love quoting juicy mummies, and a game of linguistic telephone ensues.

That's how you go from the "contents may be hot" warning to people seriously talking about "content networks." You see the same phenomenon with "solution," "space," and "product;" with "brand," with "talent." The phrase "corporate culture" is a devilish oxymoronic weed, draining the word "culture" of all its vibrancy and significance. Companies offer “solutions” to problems that don’t exist, because there is no other way to describe that they are offering nothing of value. Even "trust" is being slowly marched toward the gaping maw of late-capitalistic semantic drain, thanks to companies like Facebook and Uber.

[image: "The Unlikely Rise of the Pastel de Nata, and Why It’s Suddenly Everywhere]

"Late-capitalistic semantic drain" sounds like its own uniquely hellish bullshit neologism. But I swear it does mean something: the lack of meaning spreading through English, driven by a corporate monoculture devoted solely to profit.

I have a hypothesis that this semantic drain is tied to the meaninglessness of modern work: These companies are co-opting words with tangible meanings and draining them of such to obscure the fact that they rarely produce anything of value to society, and that their employees are spending most of their waking hours performing labor with no meaning.

The plural of "anecdote" is hardly "data," but I find myself overwhelmed by the number of people in my social circle who are having constant work-related breakdowns, or who are chucking aside any notion of having a "career," because they have seen exactly how much of a crock of shit careerism is. That's aside from the number of people I know or have simply spoken to over the last several years who hate their job, who find waking up to go to their job an increasingly unbearable proposition even if it comes with "perks," even if they desperately need the health insurance. It's not just because their boss sucks, or their coworker eats their lunch: Everywhere in America—I won't speak to the rest of the world; but America, I've been all around—you will find people completely alienated from their labor. That is, they find no meaning in half their waking hours,** the ones they spend "working."

I put "working" in quotation marks because the kind of work I'm talking about isn't really work, is it? When you spend three business days creating a PowerPoint presentation using work done by someone else, only to be told by your boss that you fucked up by making the arrows blue instead of red, do you feel any sense of ownership of the thing you've created, or do you simply repeat to yourself that you need this job to make your student loan payments? When you're on your feet for 8 hours carefully re-folding t-shirts that shitty people looked at and then tossed on the floor like some naughty child, or being berated by someone whose credit card was declined thrice, do you feel as though you've "put in a hard day's work"—or that you've spent half your waking hours being slowly crushed by the weight of the service economy? This feels more like toil than work, doesn't it?

This isn't just a feeling held by me and a few of my more radical friends. Anthropologist David Graeber wrote an entire book on the subject of "Bullshit Jobs." Graeber talks a lot in this book about how most jobs are "pointless," and while objective pointlessness is a hallmark of a lot of modern work, I prefer to talk about meaninglessness, because a job can be objectively pointless but still have some meaning or non-monetary value for the person doing it; a job can also be objectively necessary and not provide any meaning to the person doing it. (Not everyone's cut out to be a nurse.)

William Morris' "Useful Work vs. Useless Toil" essay from the late 1800s shows that the Industrial Revolution was raising the specter of meaningless work, so this isn't exactly a brand-new phenomenon. "As to the hope of product, I have said that Nature compels us to work for that," Morris wrote. "It remains for us to look to it that we do really produce something, and not nothing, or at least nothing that we want or are allowed to use."

Yet modern white-collar work is often completely removed from any sort of end product; it's not hard to see why this distance results in a profound sense of alienation. That alienation is exacerbated when the end "product" is consulting services, or "financial services," or denying a person coverage for a medical procedure, or marketing materials that literally less than a dozen people outside the company will read.

[image: @mgoldst: "Design job description red flags:

"ninja"
"unicorn"
"high-pressure environment"
"magic"
"rock star"
"family"
"wear multiple hats"
"disrupt"
"earning potential"
"possibility of becoming full-time"
"guru"
"must know (insert ridiculously long list of stuff here)"]

To counteract this alienation, to obscure the fact that these jobs are, as Graeber points out, "pointless," HR departments and startup founders, in particular, have begun to co-opt plenty of perfectly fine words: "Rock star." "Family." "Guru." "Wizard." "Hero." All they really mean is that you need to have a working knowledge of some system or another and no sense of dignity. The job descriptions that involve these words are most frequently found in the tech sector.

"Looking for a rock star coder to join our family," the HR enchantress writes. "Must be a high-performer who wants to disrupt and can wear multiple hats in a fast-paced environment. Free meals and laundry service!"

This description really means the company wants control over every moment of your day, has no idea what it’s actually hiring you to do, and will never reward you for exceeding expectations, because firstly there aren’t any and secondly you’re supposed to be a rock star, and so should always be exceeding expectations as a matter of course. The HR enchantress is attempting to blind you to this reality with words for things you aspire to in your life, but which you will never achieve (rock star-dom, family), especially if you take this job at a company attempting to create an app that performs the emotional labor your mother used to perform (Mothr).

Let me reiterate: These job descriptions are meaningless because the jobs themselves have no meaning.

[image: @Lucas_Shaw: "Pretty odd to see Hulu, owned by companies with a combined $400B, welcoming "rebels" to a carefully orchestrated advertising event."]

This semantic drain goes far beyond… [more]
2019  orianaschwindt  language  jargon  siliconvalley  words  titles  absurdity  latecapitalism  hucksters  gurus  late-capitalisticsemanticdrain  semantics  work  labor  corporatism  corporations 
12 days ago by robertogreco
Noam Chomsky takes ten minutes to explain everything you need to know about the Republican Party in 2019 / Boing Boing
"Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviewed linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky and asked him to explain Donald Trump; in a mere 10 minutes, Chomsky explains where Trump came from, what he says about the GOP, and what the best response to Russiagate is.

Chomsky lays out the history of the GOP from Nixon's Southern Strategy, when the party figured out that the way to large numbers of working people to vote for policies that made a tiny minority of rich people richer was to quietly support racism, which would fuse together a coalition of racists and the super-rich. By Reagan's time, the coalition was beefed up with throngs of religious fanatics, brought in by adopting brutal anti-abortion policies. Then the GOP recruited paranoid musketfuckers by adopting doctrinal opposition to any form of gun control. Constituency by constituency, the GOP became a big tent for deranged, paranoid, bigoted and misogynist elements, all reliably showing up to vote for policies that would send billions into the pockets of a tiny rump of wealthy people who represented the party's establishment.

That's why every time the GOP base fields a candidate, it's some self-parodying character out of a SNL sketch: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, etc. Every time, the GOP establishment had to sabotage the campaigns of the base's pick, until they couldn't -- Trump is just the candidate-from-the-base that the establishment couldn't suppress.

You can think of the Republican Party as a machine that does two things: enacting patriarchy and white supremacy (Trump) while delivering billions to oligarchs (McConnell, Paul Ryan, etc).

Then Chomsky moves onto Russiagate: Russian interference may have shifted the election outcome by a few critical points to get Trump elected, but it will be impossible to quantify the full extent and nature of interference and the issue will always be controversial, with room for doubt. But campaign contributions from the super-rich? They are undeniable and have a massive effect on US elections, vastly more than Russian interference ever will (as do election interventions of US allies: think of when Netanyahu went to Congress to attack Obama policies before a joint Congressional session right before a key election): "The real issues are different things. They’re things like climate change, like global warming, like the Nuclear Posture Review, deregulation. These are real issues. But the Democrats aren’t going after those."
Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off."

[Full interview: https://truthout.org/video/chomsky-on-the-perils-of-depending-on-mueller-report-to-defeat-trump/
https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/18/chomsky_by_focusing_on_russia_democrats
https://www.democracynow.org/shows/2019/4/18?autostart=true

"NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, Trump is—you know, I think there are a number of illusions about Trump. If you take a look at the Trump phenomenon, it’s not very surprising. Think back for the last 10 or 15 years over Republican Party primaries, and remember what happened during the primaries. Each primary, when some candidate rose from the base, they were so outlandish that the Republican establishment tried to crush them and succeeded in doing it—Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum. Anyone who was coming out of the base was totally unacceptable to the establishment. The change in 2016 is they couldn’t crush him.

But the interesting question is: Why was this happening? Why, in election after election, was the voting base producing a candidate utterly intolerable to the establishment? And the answer to that is—if you think about that, the answer is not very hard to discover. During the—since the 1970s, during this neoliberal period, both of the political parties have shifted to the right. The Democrats, by the 1970s, had pretty much abandoned the working class. I mean, the last gasp of more or less progressive Democratic Party legislative proposals was the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act in 1978, which Carter watered down so that it had no teeth, just became voluntary. But the Democrats had pretty much abandoned the working class. They became pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans shifted so far to the right that they went completely off the spectrum. Two of the leading political analysts of the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, about five or 10 years ago, described the Republican Party as what they called a “radical insurgency” that has abandoned parliamentary politics.

Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off.

And, I should say, the Democrats are helping him. They are. Take the focus on Russiagate. What’s that all about? I mean, it was pretty obvious at the beginning that you’re not going to find anything very serious about Russian interference in elections. I mean, for one thing, it’s undetectable. I mean, in the 2016 election, the Senate and the House went the same way as the executive, but nobody claims there was Russian interference there. In fact, you know, Russian interference in the election, if it existed, was very slight, much less, say, than interference by, say, Israel. Israel… [more]
amygoodman  noamchomsky  corydoctorow  donaldtrump  republicans  us  politics  extremism  billionaires  inequality  campaignfinance  money  power  policy  mitchmcconnell  paulryan  abortion  nra  guns  evangelicals  richardnixon  ronaldreagan  georgehwbush  govenment  corporatism  corruption  russiagate  legislation  wealth  oligarchy  plutocracy  paulweyrich  southernstrategy  racism  race  gop  guncontrol  bigotry  misogyny  establishment  michelebachman  hermancain  ricksantoram  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  netanyahu  barackobama  congress  climatechange  canon  democrats  democracy  insurgency  radicalism  right  labor  corporations  catholics  2019  israel  elections  influence 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Carol Black: Alternatives to Schooling on Vimeo
"Carol Black is an education analyst, television producer, and director of the film Schooling the World. This is her plenary talk at the Economics of Happiness conference, held in Portland, Oregon, in February 2015. The conference was organized by Local Futures, a non-profit organization that has been promoting a shift from global to local for nearly 40 years."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howelearn  schools  schooling  happiness  alternative  work  play  experimentation  development  children  age  segregation  experience  experientialeducation  readiness  compulsion  control  authoritarianism  authority  power  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  conviviality  ivanillich  community  howwelearn  2015  institutions  institutionalizations  diversity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black: Reclaiming Our Children, Reclaiming Our World - YouTube
"Carol Black directed the documentary film Schooling the World, which describes how western-style schools help destroy indigenous cultures worldwide. This talk was given at ISEC's Economics of Happiness conference in Berkeley, California, in March 2012."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  economics  humans  learning  howwelearn  schools  schooling  brains  development  children  education  agesegregation  us  history  literacy  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  control  power  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  2012 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Vadik Marmeladov
"I design the most beautiful products. Before scrolling down to the pictures, please read our Codes of Practice:

1. Wear the uniform
2. Think long term (like 30 years from now)
3. Build stories and languages, not things
4. Create your own universe (or join ours)
5. Collect samples
6. Be a sample for somebody else 
7. Look for loyalty, not for a skill set
8. Do not build utilitarian products. However, use them as a medium to express yourself
9. Do not exploit introverts — doesn't work long term. Learn to be an introvert yourself 
10. Travel more
11. Do not work for corporations. Old corporations were meaningful when their founders were alive, but now, they have outlived their relevancy. They exist only to keep their numbers growing
12. New corporations are no better. They have scaled up features, and today’s founders want hyper-growth for growth’s sake (it seems like every line of code, every feature deserves its own corporation — it sure doesn't)
13. So, fuck the corporations
14. Tell the truth (bullshit never works long term)
15. Study and research fashion
16. Your phone is a temporary feature — don’t spend your life on it (like you wouldn’t spend it on a fax machine)
17. Fuck likes, followers, fake lives, fake friends
18. Remake your environment. Build it for yourself, and people will come 
19. Only trust those who make things you love
20. Move to LA 
21. Don’t buy property
22. Don’t go to Mars (just yet)
23. Use only one font, just a few colors, and just a few shapes
24. Use spreadsheets, but only to map out 30 cells — one for each year of the rest of your life
25. The next three are the most important
26. The past doesn’t exist — don’t get stuck in it
27. Don’t go to Silicon Valley (it’s not for you if you’re still reading this)
28. Remind yourself daily: you and everyone you know will die
29. We must build the most beautiful things
30. We are 2046 kids"

[via Warren Ellis's Orbital Operations newsletter, 8 April 2018:

"LOT 2046 [https://www.lot2046.com/ ] continues to be magnificent. This is actually a really strong duffel bag. You just never know what you're going to get.

Incidentally, culture watchers, keep an eye on this - the LOT 2046 user-in-residence programme [https://www.lot2046.com/360/11/875c4f ]. This feels like a small start to a significant idea. Vadik thinks long-term. He once had the following Codes Of Practise list from his previous business on his personal website, preserved by the sainted Wayback Machine:"]
vadikmarmeladov  codesofpractice  uniforms  longterm  stories  language  languages  worldbuilding  loyalty  skills  samples  examples  corporations  corporatism  losangeles  property  2046  beauty  part  present  siliconvalley  fonts  mars  trust  love  environment  like  follows  followers  fakeness  relevancy  features  numbers  scale  scalability  fashion  research  attention 
april 2018 by robertogreco
#GeniusTweeter on Twitter: "The Midwest Academy Manual for Activist quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.… https://t.co/FGK2Gw2jPs"
"The Midwest Academy Manual for Activists [http://www.midwestacademy.com/manual/ ] quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.
The authors describe it as: "You are reasonable but your allies aren't. Can, we just deal with you?"... In this tactic, institutions resisting change can divide coalitions, decreasing their power and tempering their demands, by bringing those who have the most invested in the status quo into the Inner circle" to negotiate, in theory, for the full group's interests..? Lawyers often have an easier time getting meetings with decision makers precisely because we are seen as more "reasonable," i.e., amenable to the status quo, and we are too often tempted to accept this access rather than insisting on solidarity with more radical leaders from affected communities...

The manual quotes a consultant speaking to a group of corporate executives to explain this tactic,
Activists fall into three basic categories: radicals, idealists, and realists. The first step is to isolate and marginalize the radicals. They're the ones who see inherent structural problems that need remedying if indeed a particular change is to occur..' The goal is to sour the idealists on the idea of working with the radicals. Instead, get them working with the realists. Realists are people who want reform, but don't really want to upset the status quo; big public interest organizations that rely on foundation grants and corporate contributions are a prime example. With correct handling, realists can be counted on to cut a deal with industry that can be touted as a 'win-win" solution, but that is actually an industry victory.

"There's more to what the consultant advises the corporate executives:
"To isolate them (the radicals), try to create the perception in the public mind that people advocating fundamental solutions are terrorists, extremists, fear mongers, outsiders, communists, or whatever.+"
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962360911225937920

"After marginalizing the radicals, then identify and educate the idealists - concerned and sympathetic members of the public -- by convincing them that changes advocated by the radicals would hurt people.""
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962361148841627649 ]
idealists  idealism  activism  activists  radicals  radicalism  radicalists  centrists  statusquo  elitism  policy  politics  institutions  corporatism  democrats  republicans  marginalization  race  racism  cooption  power  control  corporations  law  lawyers  solidarity  leadership  reform  change  changemaking  fear  outsiders  communists  communism  inequality  oppression  perpetuation  terrorism  extremism  perception  messaging  mariamekaba 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
"Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism."



"Insight is precisely what Musk’s strawberry-picking AI lacks, as do all the other AIs that destroy humanity in similar doomsday scenarios. I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”"



"
It’d be tempting to say that fearmongering about superintelligent AI is a deliberate ploy by tech behemoths like Google and Facebook to distract us from what they themselves are doing, which is selling their users’ data to advertisers. If you doubt that’s their goal, ask yourself, why doesn’t Facebook offer a paid version that’s ad free and collects no private information? Most of the apps on your smartphone are available in premium versions that remove the ads; if those developers can manage it, why can’t Facebook? Because Facebook doesn’t want to. Its goal as a company is not to connect you to your friends, it’s to show you ads while making you believe that it’s doing you a favor because the ads are targeted.

So it would make sense if Mark Zuckerberg were issuing the loudest warnings about AI, because pointing to a monster on the horizon would be an effective red herring. But he’s not; he’s actually pretty complacent about AI. The fears of superintelligent AI are probably genuine on the part of the doomsayers. That doesn’t mean they reflect a real threat; what they reflect is the inability of technologists to conceive of moderation as a virtue. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk assume that a superintelligent AI will stop at nothing to achieve its goals because that’s the attitude they adopted. (Of course, they saw nothing wrong with this strategy when they were the ones engaging in it; it’s only the possibility that someone else might be better at it than they were that gives them cause for concern.)

There’s a saying, popularized by Fredric Jameson, that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley capitalists don’t want to think about capitalism ending. What’s unexpected is that the way they envision the world ending is through a form of unchecked capitalism, disguised as a superintelligent AI. They have unconsciously created a devil in their own image, a boogeyman whose excesses are precisely their own.

Which brings us back to the importance of insight. Sometimes insight arises spontaneously, but many times it doesn’t. People often get carried away in pursuit of some goal, and they may not realize it until it’s pointed out to them, either by their friends and family or by their therapists. Listening to wake-up calls of this sort is considered a sign of mental health.

We need for the machines to wake up, not in the sense of computers becoming self-aware, but in the sense of corporations recognizing the consequences of their behavior. Just as a superintelligent AI ought to realize that covering the planet in strawberry fields isn’t actually in its or anyone else’s best interests, companies in Silicon Valley need to realize that increasing market share isn’t a good reason to ignore all other considerations. Individuals often reevaluate their priorities after experiencing a personal wake-up call. What we need is for companies to do the same — not to abandon capitalism completely, just to rethink the way they practice it. We need them to behave better than the AIs they fear and demonstrate a capacity for insight."
ai  elonmusk  capitalism  siliconvalley  technology  artificialintelligence  tedchiang  2017  insight  intelligence  regulation  governance  government  johnperrybarlow  1996  autonomy  externalcontrols  corporations  corporatism  fredericjameson  excess  growth  monopolies  technosolutionism  ethics  economics  policy  civilization  libertarianism  aynrand  billgates  markzuckerberg 
december 2017 by robertogreco
“Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideas. - Vox
"It’s hard to think of a term that causes more confusion, yet is more frequently used in political debate, than “neoliberalism.” It’s one thing to argue that the term should be discouraged or retired from public discussions, because it generates heat instead of light, but it is another to say that it doesn’t have any meaning or use. Jonathan Chait makes the second case in New York magazine.

Whenever I find myself reaching for “neoliberalism,” I look for a different phrase, simply because it will better communicate what I’m trying to convey. But if we throw away the term entirely, or ignore what it’s describing, we lose out on an important way of understanding where we are right now, economically speaking.

Neoliberalism, at its core, describes the stage of capitalism that has existed over the past 30 years, one that evolved out of the economic crises of the 1970s. The underpinnings of this stage are buckling under the weight of our own crises, perhaps even collapsing, all of it in ways we don’t yet understand. A careful consideration of the term can help us grasp a lot of what is going on in the world, especially as the Democratic Party looks to change.

Jonathan Chait’s sweeping condemnation of the word “neoliberal”

For Chait, the term neoliberal “now refers to liberals generally” and indiscriminately, regardless of what views they hold. The “basic claim is that, from the New Deal through the Great Society, the Democratic Party espoused a set of values defined by, or at the very least consistent with, social democracy,” but then, starting in the 1970s, “neoliberal elites hijacked the party.” However, the efforts at hijacking that the critics identify “never really took off,” in Chait’s view. As such, to use the term is simply to try “to win [an argument] with an epithet.”

Chait correctly points out that the left has historically been disappointed with the New Deal and Great Society, viewing them as lost opportunities. But he oversteps when he goes further to say that “neoliberal” is not only devoid of meaning, but that there was no essential shift in Democratic identity toward the end of the last century.

The difficulty of the term is that it’s used to described three overlapping but very distinct intellectual developments. In political circles, it’s most commonly used to refer to a successful attempt to move the Democratic Party to the center in the aftermath of conservative victories in the 1980s. Once can look to Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck’s influential 1989 The Politics of Evasion, in which the authors argued that Democratic “programs must be shaped and defended within an inhospitable ideological climate, and they cannot by themselves remedy the electorate's broader antipathy to contemporary liberalism.”

Galston and Kamarck were calling for a New Deal liberalism that was updated to be made more palatable to a right-leaning public, after Reagan and the ascendancy of conservatism. You might also say that they were calling for “triangulation” between Reaganism and New Deal liberalism — or, at worst, abandoning the FDR-style approach.

In economic circles, however, “neoliberalism” is most identified with an elite response to the economic crises of the 1970s: stagflation, the energy crisis, the near bankruptcy of New York. The response to these crises was conservative in nature, pushing back against the economic management of the midcentury period. It is sometimes known as the “Washington Consensus,” a set of 10 policies that became the new economic common sense.

These policies included reduction of top marginal tax rates, the liberalization of trade, privatization of government services, and deregulation. These became the sensible things for generic people in Washington and other global headquarters to embrace and promote, and the policies were pushed on other countries via global institutions like the International Monetary Fund. This had significant consequences for the power of capital, as the geographer David Harvey writes in his useful Brief Introduction to Neoliberalism. The upshot of such policies, as the historical sociologist Greta Krippner notes, was to shift many aspects of managing the economy from government to Wall Street, and to financiers generally.

Chait summarizes this sense of the term in the following way: It simply “means capitalist, as distinguished from socialist.” But what kind of capitalism? The Washington Consensus represents a particularly laissez-faire approach that changed life in many countries profoundly: To sample its effects, just check out a book like Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalization and its Discontents. The shock therapy of mass privatization applied to Russia after the Soviet collapsed, for example, reduced life expectancy in that country by five years and ensured that Russia was taken over by strongmen and oligarchs.

International pressure forced East Asian countries to liberalize their capital flows, which led to a financial crisis that the IMF subsequently made use of to demand even more painful austerity. The European Union was created to facilitate the austerity that is destroying a generation in such countries as Greece, Portugal, and Spain. (The IMF itself is reexamining its actions over the past several decades; titles it has published, including Neoliberalism, Oversold?, demonstrate the broad usefulness of the term.)

Markets are defining more and more aspects of our lives

The third meaning of “neoliberalism,” most often used in academic circles, encompasses market supremacy — or the extension of markets or market-like logic to more and more spheres of life. This, in turn, has a significant influence on our subjectivity: how we view ourselves, our society, and our roles in it. One insight here is that markets don’t occur naturally but are instead constructed through law and practices, and those practices can be extended into realms well beyond traditional markets.

Another insight is that market exchanges can create an ethos that ends up shaping more and more human behavior; we can increasingly view ourselves as little more than human capital maximizing our market values.

This is a little abstract, but it really does matter for our everyday lives. As the political theorist Wendy Brown notes in her book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, the Supreme Court case overturning a century of campaign finance law, Citizens United, wasn’t just about viewing corporations as political citizens. Kennedy’s opinion was also about viewing all politics as a form of market activity. The question, as he saw it, was is how to preserve a “political marketplace.” In this market-centric view, democracy, access, voice, and other democratic values are flattened, replaced with a thin veneer of political activity as a type of capital right.

You may not believe in neoliberalism, but neoliberalism believes in you

Why does this matter if you couldn’t care less about either the IMF or subjectivity? The 2016 election brought forward real disagreements in the Democratic Party, disagreements that aren’t reducible to empirical arguments, or arguments about what an achievable political agenda might be. These disagreements will become more important as we move forward, and they can only be answered with an understanding of what the Democratic Party stands for.

One highly salient conflict was the fight over free college during the Democratic primary. It wasn’t about the price tag; it was about the role the government should play in helping to educate the citizenry. Clinton originally argued that a universal program would help people who didn’t need help — why pay for Donald Trump’s kids? This reflects the focus on means-tested programs that dominated Democratic policymaking over the past several decades. (Some of the original people who wanted to reinvent the Democratic Party, such as Charles Peters in his 1983 article “A Neoliberal’s Manifesto,” called for means-testing Social Security so it served only the very poor.)

Bernie Sanders argued instead that education was a right, and it should be guaranteed to all Americans regardless of wealth or income. The two rivals came to a smart compromise after the campaign, concluding that public tuition should be free for all families with income of less than $125,000 — a proposal that is already serving as a base from which activists can build.

This points to a disagreement as we move forward. Should the Democratic Party focus on the most vulnerable, in the language of access and need? Or should it focus on everyone, in the language of rights?

We’ll see a similar fight in health care. The horror movie villain of Republican health care reform has been killed and thrown into the summer camp lake, and we’re all sitting on the beach terrified that the undead body will simply walk right back out. In the meantime, Democrats have to think about whether their health care goals will build on the ACA framework or whether they should more aggressively extend Medicare for more people.

Chait argues that “[t]he Democratic Party has evolved over the last half-century, as any party does over a long period of time. But the basic ideological cast of its economic policy has not changed dramatically since the New Deal.” Whether you believe that’s true hinges on what you think of the relative merits of public and private provisioning of goods. For there was clearly some change in Democratic policymaking — and, arguably, in its “ideological cast” — sometime between 1976 and 1992. It became much more acceptable to let the private market drive outcomes, with government helping through tax credits and various nudges. One influential 1992 book, Reinventing Government, by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, described a government that should “steer, not row.” (FDR believed government could and should row.)

Another place we can see a break in the Democratic Party … [more]
neoliberalism  capitalism  democrats  history  politics  2017  mikekonczal  jonathanchait  billgalston  elainekamarck  newdeal  liberalism  conservatism  economics  policy  liberalization  privatization  government  governance  josephstiglitz  globalization  markets  berniesanders  ideology  dvidorsborne  tedgaebler  finance  banking  boblitan  jonathanruch  education  corporations  1988  ronaldreagan 
july 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



"Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”"



"The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

The Future

Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
[52] The Activist Collective You Need To Know About! - YouTube
"In the first part of this latest Redacted Tonight VIP, Lee Camp talks with author Alnoor, the Executive Director of The Rules. The Rules is a worldwide network of activists, artists, writers, farmers, peasants, students, workers, designers, hackers, spiritualists and dreamers. Inequality is no accident to this group, and they, through a variety of means and with a variety of people attempt to fix it are using unique organizing tactics in these day of increased political awareness. Lee Camp hilariously reports on the latest analysis by Chris Hedges in the second half of Redacted Tonight VIP. The system has revealed its flaws, but the elite are no longer trying to save it but just obsessed with saving themselves. How can we be cutting the fat when the current administration is loading up on expensive useless projects? This and more on Redacted Tonight VIP."
therules  leecamp  alnoorladha  activism  economics  latecapitalism  postcapitalism  capitalism  worldbank  neoliberalism  elitism  growth  environment  standingrock  socialjustice  resistance  ows  occupywallstreet  onepartyplanet  corporations  corporatism 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Canadian Oil Companies Trample on Our Rights | The Progressive
"Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn't make a corporation a terrorist."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNNgn6ID3JT/ ]
winonaladuke  frankmolley  activism  corporatism  corporations  capitalism  terrorism  2013 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview. | The Nation
"While Clinton is great at warring with Republicans, taking on powerful corporations goes against her entire worldview, against everything she’s built, and everything she stands for. The real issue, in other words, isn’t Clinton’s corporate cash, it’s her deeply pro-corporate ideology: one that makes taking money from lobbyists and accepting exorbitant speech fees from banks seem so natural that the candidate is openly struggling to see why any of this has blown up at all.

To understand this worldview, one need look no further than the foundation at which Hillary Clinton works and which bears her family name. The mission of the Clinton Foundation can be distilled as follows: There is so much private wealth sloshing around our planet (thanks in very large part to the deregulation and privatization frenzy that Bill Clinton unleashed on the world while president), that every single problem on earth, no matter how large, can be solved by convincing the ultra-rich to do the right things with their loose change. Naturally, the people to convince them to do these fine things are the Clintons, the ultimate relationship brokers and dealmakers, with the help of an entourage of A-list celebrities.

So let’s forget the smoking guns for the moment. The problem with Clinton World is structural. It’s the way in which these profoundly enmeshed relationships—lubricated by the exchange of money, favors, status, and media attention—shape what gets proposed as policy in the first place.

For instance, under the Clintons’ guidance, drug companies work with the foundation to knock down their prices in Africa (conveniently avoiding the real solution: changing the system of patenting that allows them to charge such grotesque prices to the poor in the first place). The Dow Chemical Company finances water projects in India (just don’t mention their connection to the ongoing human health disaster in Bhopal, for which the company still refuses to take responsibility). And it was at the Clinton Global Initiative that airline mogul Richard Branson made his flashy pledge to spend billions solving climate change (almost a decade later, we’re still waiting, while Virgin Airlines keeps expanding).

In Clinton World it’s always win-win-win: The governments look effective, the corporations look righteous, and the celebrities look serious. Oh, and another win too: The Clintons grow ever more powerful.

At the center of it all is the canonical belief that change comes not by confronting the wealthy and powerful but by partnering with them. Viewed from within the logic of what Thomas Frank recently termed “the land of money,” all of Hillary Clinton’s most controversial actions make sense. Why not take money from fossil-fuel lobbyists? Why not get paid hundreds of thousands for speeches to Goldman Sachs? It’s not a conflict of interest; it’s a mutually beneficial partnership—part of a never-ending merry-go-round of corporate-political give and take.

Books have been filled with the failures of Clinton-style philanthrocapitalism. When it comes to climate change, we have all the evidence we need to know that this model is a disaster on a planetary scale. This is the logic that gave the world fraud-infested carbon markets and dodgy carbon offsets instead of tough regulation of polluters—because, we were told, emission reductions needed to be “win-win” and “market-friendly.”

If the next president wastes any more time with these schemes, the climate clock will run out, plain and simple. If we’re to have any hope of avoiding catastrophe, action needs to be unprecedented in its speed and scope. If designed properly, the transition to a post-carbon economy can deliver a great many “wins”: not just a safer future, but huge numbers of well-paying jobs; improved and affordable public transit; more liveable cities; as well as racial and environmental justice for the communities on the frontlines of dirty extraction.

Bernie Sanders’s campaign is built around precisely this logic: not the rich being stroked for a little more noblesse oblige, but ordinary citizens banding together to challenge them, winning tough regulations, and creating a much fairer system as a result.

Sanders and his supporters understand something critical: It won’t all be win-win. For any of this to happen, fossil-fuel companies, which have made obscene profits for many decades, will have to start losing. And losing more than just the tax breaks and subsidies that Clinton is promising to cut. They will also have to lose the new drilling and mining leases they want; they’ll have to be denied permits for the pipelines and export terminals they very much want to build. They will have to leave trillions of dollars’ worth of proven fossil-fuel reserves in the ground.

Meanwhile, if solar panels proliferate on rooftops, big power utilities will lose a significant portion of their profits, since their former customers will be in the energy-generation business. This would create opportunities for a more level economy and, ultimately, for lower utility bills—but once again, some powerful interests will have to lose (which is why Warren Buffett’s coal-fired utility in Nevada has gone to war against solar).

A president willing to inflict these losses on fossil-fuel companies and their allies needs to be more than just not actively corrupt. That president needs to be up for the fight of the century—and absolutely clear about which side must win. Looking at the Democratic primary, there can be no doubt about who is best suited to rise to this historic moment.

The good news? He just won Wisconsin. And he isn’t following anyone’s guidelines for good behavior."
hillaryclinton  naomiklein  2016  politics  philanthrocapitalism  climatechange  corporations  money  finance  influence  establishment  policy  lobbying  status  media  wealth  inequality  environment  elections  berniesanders 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Super Opinionated Power Club 16 -- Live from Open Source Bridge
"Staff at corporations cede their individual autonomy and humanity while working and replace it with becoming a single transmitter in the consciousness of the corporation itself -- my contact could never make a decision, he could only take information and relay it inward. I have been a part of a couple of fairly large group neural networks (corporations) at this point, and seen how a pod grows wary at making decisions beyond an unspoken threshold, even if a few people in that particular group are pushing for something. The Company’s Best Interests hang over everything, even if it’s something that clearly harms everyone in the room (eg: corporate women’s groups who find themselves arguing against the company disclosing employee diversity statistics).

Corporations are not people but they are beings of a kind that use people as a distributed computing network. Each person is a point on the network, capable of very limited autonomous decision-making, with greater processing and decision-making power available deeper in the network with larger groups of people assembled. So, businesses as AI, ho-hum, this isn’t new.

I think and feel that there’s a number for any industry, and once you’re there, that’s it, that’s as many people as your company can have while the people in it are able to stay people while staying employees. I won’t pretend I know what it is for manufacturing, or really anything outside of the software sector, because I haven’t worked outside of corporate IT and computer software development. But once you get to the point where everybody at the company doesn’t know what everyone else at the company is doing...so, like, eight people, at least for me, I have to ask why you need to be bigger. Are you trying to defend yourself and save lives? Did you get called upon by your community to solve a Great Problem of Our Time? Or are you just helping an immortal citizen get a little richer and a little more famous?"

[via/see also: http://feeltrain.com/blog/hello-feel-train/ ]
courtneystanton  groupsize  2015  scale  humanism  growth  corporations  corporatism  size  small 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Intervention – “Vernacular Values: Remembering Ivan Illich” by Andy Merrifield | AntipodeFoundation.org
"Illich had it in for professional institutions of every kind, for what he called “disabling professions”; this is what interests me most in his work, this is what I’ve been trying to revisit, trying to recalibrate and reload, in our own professionalised times. I’ve been trying to affirm the nemesis of professionalism: amateurs. Illich said professionals incapacitate ordinary peoples’ ability to fend for themselves, to invent things, to lead innovative lives beyond the thrall of corporations and institutions. Yet Illich’s war against professionalism isn’t so much a celebration of self-survival (letting free market ideology rip) as genuine self-empowerment, a weaning people off their market-dependence. We’ve lost our ability to develop “convivial tools”, he says, been deprived of our use-value capacities, of values systems outside the production and consumption of commodities. We’ve gotten accustomed to living in a supermarket.

Illich’s thinking about professionalisation was partly inspired by Karl Polanyi’s magisterial analysis on the “political and economic origins of our time”, The Great Transformation (Beacon Press, 1944). Since the Stone Age, Polanyi says, markets followed society, developed organically as social relations developed organically, from barter and truck systems, to simple economies in which money was a means of exchange, a mere token of equivalent worth. Markets were always “embedded” (a key Polanyi word) in social relations, always located somewhere within the very fabric of society, whose institutional and political structure “regulated” what markets could and couldn’t do. Regulation and markets thus grew up together, came of age together. So “the emergence of the idea of self-regulation”, says Polanyi, “was a complete reversal of this trend of development … the change from regulated to self-regulated markets at the end of the 18th century represented a complete transformation in the structure of society.”

We’re still coming to terms with this complete transformation, a transformation that, towards the end of the 20th century, has made the “disembedded” economy seem perfectly natural, perfectly normal, something transhistorical, something that always was, right? It’s also a perfectly functioning economy, as economic pundits now like to insist. Entering the 1990s, this disembedded market system bore a new tagline, one that persists: “neoliberalism”. Polanyi’s logic is impeccable: a “market economy can exist only in a market society.”

Inherent vices nonetheless embed themselves in this disembedded economy. Land, labour and money become vital parts of our economic system, of our speculative hunger games. But, says Polanyi, land, labour and money “are obviously not commodities” (his emphasis). “Land is only another name for nature, which is not produced by man”, he says; “labour is only another name for human activity which goes with life itself”; “actual money … is merely a token of purchasing power which, as a rule, is not produced at all, but comes into being through the mechanism of banking or state finance”. Thus “the commodity description of labour, land and money is entirely fictitious”, a commodity fiction, the fiction of commodities.

Still, we live in fictitious times (as filmmaker Michael Moore was wont to say): land, labour and money as commodities provide us with the vital organising principle of our whole society. So fiction remains the truth, and fictitious truth needs defending, needs perpetuating; the postulate must be forcibly yet legitimately kept in place. But kept in place how, and by whom? By, we might say, a whole professional administration, by a whole professional cadre, by a whole professional apparatus that both props up and prospers from these fictitious times. Professionalism is the new regulation of deregulation, the new management of mismanagement, an induced and imputed incapacitation."



"Vernacular values are intuitive knowledges and practical know-how that structure everyday culture; they pivot not so much—as Gramsci says—on common sense as on “good sense”. They’re reasonable intuitions and intuitive reason: words, habits and understandings that inform real social life—the real social life of a non-expert population. Illich reminds us that “vernacular” stems from the Latin vernaculam, meaning “homebred” or “homegrown”, something “homemade”. (We’re not far from the notion of amateur here.) Vernacular is a mode of life and language below the radar of exchange-value; vernacular language is language acquired without a paid teacher; loose, unruly language, heard as opposed to written down. (“Eartalk”, Joyce called it in Finnegans Wake, a language for the “earsighted”.) To assert vernacular values is, accordingly, to assert democratic values, to assert its means through popular participation."



"Illich chips in to add how professionals peddle the privileges and status of the job: they adjudicate its worthiness and rank, while forever tut-tutting those without work. Unemployment “means sad idleness, rather than the freedom to do things that are useful for oneself or for one’s neighbour”. “What counts”, Illich says, “isn’t the effort to please or the pleasure that flows from that effort but the coupling of the labour force with capital. What counts isn’t the achievement of satisfaction that flows from action but the status of the social relationship that commands production—that is, the job, situation, post, or appointment”.

Effort isn’t productive unless it’s done at the behest of some boss; economists can’t deal with a usefulness of people outside of the corporation, outside of stock value, of shareholder dividend, of cost-benefit. Work is only ever productive when its process is controlled, when it is planned and monitored by professional agents, by managers and the managers of managers. Can we ever imagine unemployment as useful, as the basis for autonomous activity, as meaningful social or even political activity?"



"Perhaps, during crises, we can hatch alternative programmes for survival, other methods through which we can not so much “earn a living” as live a living. Perhaps we can self-downsize, as Illich suggests, and address the paradox of work that goes back at least to Max Weber: work is revered in our culture, yet at the same time workers are becoming superfluous; you hate your job, your boss, hate the servility of what you do, and how you do it, the pettiness of the tasks involved, yet want to keep your job at all costs. You see no other way of defining yourself other than through work, other than what you do for a living. Perhaps there’s a point at which we can all be pushed over the edge, voluntarily take the jump ourselves, only to discover other aspects of ourselves, other ways to fill in the hole, to make a little money, to maintain our dignity and pride, and to survive off what Gorz calls a “frugal abundance”.

Perhaps it’s time to get politicised around non-work and undercut the professionalisation of work and life. In opting out, or at least contesting from within, perhaps we can create a bit of havoc, refuse to work as we’re told, and turn confrontation into a more positive device, a will to struggle for another kind of work, where use-value outbids exchange-value, where amateurs prevail over professionals. If, in times of austerity, capitalists can do without workers, then it’s high time workers (and ex-workers) realise that we can do without capitalists, without their professional hacks, and their professional institutions, that we can devise work without them, a work for ourselves. Illich throws down the gauntlet here, challenges us to conceive another de-professionalised, vernacular non-working future. He certainly gets you thinking, has had me thinking, and rethinking, more than a decade after I’ve had any kind of job."
via:javierarbona  ivanillich  professionals  experts  amateurs  economics  conviviality  karlpolanyi  politics  capitalism  neoliberalism  empowerment  self-empowerment  unschooling  deschooling  production  consumption  corporatism  corporations  institutions  self-survival  invention  innovation  markets  society  labor  land  commodities  nature  money  michaelmoore  andymerrifield  bureaucracy  control  systems  systemsthinking  deregulation  regulation  management  incapacitation  work  vernacula  vernacularvalues  values  knowledge  everyday  culture  informal  bullshitjobs  andrégorz  antoniogramsci  marxism  ideleness  freedom  capital  effort  productivity  socialactivism  maxweber  time  toolsforconviviality 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Why company towns are bad for people | The Sacramento Bee
"City of Industry lives on incestuous ties between corporations and government

City embodies California’s tendency to hand over public institutions to private enterprise

City of Industry shows that we need to change how we think about government"



"Don’t expect much from the investigations. There have been about nine of them over the years. Although Stafford went to prison, the city of Industry’s structure has proven to be resilient. And business interests there find the city’s present configuration too good to give up.

To change the city of Industry, California would need to dismantle those specific technologies that have transformed governmental functions into property and that have, as a result, made so many California cities immune to meaningful reform. Industry’s most important strains of governmental DNA include its industrial-only purpose; creative boundary drawing that keeps out the meddling rabble; media narratives that code its recurring “corruption” scandals as breaches of individual morality; a model of city management that outsources municipal services to private contractors; the old California redevelopment laws and financing mechanisms that paid for its industrial development; and city charter laws that guarantee Industry its sovereignty in the face of repeated scandals.

The best way to address our city of Industry problem, in other words, is to change how we think about government. We need to shift our focus from blaming all systemic corruption on the moral failings of individuals, and look for the specific technologies that have made the privatization of government, from City Hall to the White House, seem natural and necessary."
losangeles  cityofindustry  lapunete  cities  companytowns  2015  victorvalle  via:javierarbona  california  government  corruption  corporations  corporatism  governance  privatization  property  management 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Why Are Liberals Resigned to Low Wages? | The Nation [“Focusing on unsolvable problems excuses them from dealing with tough political problems.”]
"Liberals need to own the wage problem. Wages remain lower than they were before the Great Recession, following a generation of virtually no growth. Identifying why this is, and understanding the way out, will be essential as the economy gains steam yet still leaves many people behind. And this, in turn, will require overthrowing the reigning attitude that liberals have brought to our economic crisis. Let’s call it liberal nihilism.

Liberal nihilists try to explain why the economy isn’t serving workers, but they do so in ways that render us powerless to fix the problem. There’s a version where workers simply don’t have the education or skills necessary to handle new high-tech jobs. There’s another, similar story in which robots and globalization are taking all the jobs, leaving workers behind in the process.

These stories blame an impersonal market and individual failures for the stagnation of wages, but they don’t fully explain the thirty-five-year decline. For example, we don’t see the gains that would be expected if robots were really replacing workers. (Indeed, low pay for workers is a likely reason many businesses don’t even bother trying to upgrade their equipment.) The economy isn’t even working anymore for highly skilled workers, with many well-educated people seeing stagnant pay or being forced to take low-skill jobs.

But while these explanations are incorrect, that isn’t what makes them nihilistic. The nihilism rests in the fact that these stories are palliatives meant to relieve the anxiety of facing a massive political problem. They describe the collapse in wage growth not as a site of collective political struggle but instead as a story where no one—especially policy-makers—is responsible.

To address the issue of stagnant wages, we’ll have to leave that attitude behind, because the three major institutions that will determine wage growth are political ones.

The Federal Reserve is the first culprit. Contrary to popular belief, the Fed has been overly cautious during the Great Recession, refusing to announce bolder targets or set long-term interest rates directly. This caution will come to a head this year, when the Fed’s chair, Janet Yellen, will have to decide when to begin raising interest rates. If she acts too soon, she will slow down the economy, meaning labor will never regain the bargaining power it needs.

But wage growth is also a matter of how our productive enterprises are organized. Over the past thirty-five years, a “shareholder revolution” has re-engineered our companies in order to channel wealth toward the top, especially corporate executives and shareholders, rather than toward innovation, investments and workers’ wages. As the economist J.W. Mason recently noted, companies used to borrow to invest before the 1980s; now they borrow to give money to stockholders. Meanwhile, innovations in corporate structures, including contingent contracts and franchise models, have shifted the risk down, toward precarious workers, even as profits rise. As a result, the basic productive building blocks of our economy are now inequality-generating machines.

The third driver of wage stagnation is government policy. As anthropologist David Graeber puts it, “Whenever someone starts talking about the ‘free market,’ it’s a good idea to look around for the man with the gun.” Despite the endless talk of a “free market,” our economy is shaped by myriad government policies—and no matter where we look, we see government policies working against everyday workers. Whether it’s letting the real value of the minimum wage decline, making it harder to unionize, or creating bankruptcy laws and intellectual-property regimes that primarily benefit capital and the 1 percent, the way the government structures markets is responsible for weakening labor and causing wages to stay stuck.

This is not how Democratic politicians and liberal thinkers usually talk about the economy. There is a comfort—perhaps even a glee—in waving away these difficult political problems and replacing them with a story in which no one is at fault, save the workers themselves. But if liberals want to ensure a broadly shared prosperity, let alone present a compelling narrative about how their policies will work for voters, they’ll need to recover these stories."
mikekonczal  economics  wages  income  employment  salaries  2015  government  corporations  federalreserve  markets  davidgraeber 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Wandering The City Heights Data Desert | KPBS
"For a foundation that's made such a public commitment to turn City Heights around, you'd expect its president to come to an interview armed with statistics that trumpet the group's accomplishments in the community. That didn't happen with Robert Price of Price Philanthropies.

"We haven't focused so much on statistics," he said. "We're more about doing. We feel that if we're doing enough good things here, a lot of it will stick and help people."

Price Philanthropies has transformed the physical and nonprofit landscapes of City Heights, developing more than 50 acres with affordable housing, a police station and library. It's spent about $100 million on resident leadership programs during the past decade."

[See also: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/nov/18/san-diegos-richest-poor-neighborhood-two-decades-l/
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:d05290a9d991 ]

[Cross-posted to:
http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/11/20/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ and
http://www.speakcityheights.org/2014/11/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ ]

[See too the comments here and on the same cross-posted at VOSD. Ignore the immigrant hater “California Defender” and consider the following:

Ann Martin: "The lack of a measurable impact of all the dollars invested demonstrates that concentrating socially and economically disadvantaged people in one area does not provide a benefit to them. This "urban apartheid" contributes to the problem. If the City mandated that affordable housing units will be built as a percentage of every new development (actually built, not pay to get out of it), people in the situation that the folks in City Heights are in can then live everywhere throughout the City. They would have access to the same high performing schools, live in areas with lower crime rates, more parks and other amenities, be closer to better jobs, and be able to escape the cycle of poverty and despair that permeates the disadvantaged areas of the city."

Matt Wattkins: "Strikes me that any organization seeking to do good things in a beleaguered community has to straddle a line: how to make things better for residents while still keeping it affordable to live here. (I am a City Heights home owner/resident.) City Heights is within walking distance of North Park and Kensington and Normal Heights. Those neighborhoods are among the most desirable neighborhoods south of the 8. (I'd argue there are no more desirable neighborhoods anywhere in San Diego county; Normal Heights is easily the most walkable neighborhood in the city.) Those neighborhoods have also gentrified relatively recently, so it doesn't take much imagination to see that process encroaching east of the 805 and south of Meade. White collar families like my own are already buying into City Heights because property values are relatively reasonable (my house located a mile west of its current location would cost 2-3 times what I paid), and it has walkable amenities and fairly quick access to Adams Ave. and 30th St., i.e. a 10 minute bike ride. I mean, if a Trader Joe's had gone into the Albertsons spot instead of El Super, I think affordable housing in our community would have been doomed within a decade. (And it's not terribly affordable now; rent for a stand-alone house with 2 or more bedrooms runs $1500+/month.)

Anyway, neither the article nor the study mention quality of life improvements to the neighborhood; the Urban Village complex is always in use. Our library is open longer hours than most libraries in the city; our Starbucks is bustling; the playground is teeming with kids; the rec center and swimming pool offer great classes; every evening (it seems) there are soccer or baseball games on the playing fields, and local youth swarm the walkway doing tricks on skateboards and BMX bikes. We have a brand new YMCA going in on El Cajon; a couple of walk-in health clinics, pretty good transit access, some really great city parks (Azalea Garden, Hollywood) and a lot of potential in our canyon spaces, with teams of folks currently doing monthly maintenance in Olivia, Swan, and Manzanita Canyons. Most of these things are directly or indirectly a result of philanthropic dollars in our community. It's hard to quantify their impact, but similarly hard to argue that they don't improve the quality of residents' lives."

Chris Brewster: "Interesting to note that on Price Charities’ tax forms (apparently a different but related organization) the highest paid executive is Sherry Bahrambeygui. According to these forms her reportable compensation from related organizations was approximately: $1.8 million in 2010; $3.79 million in 2011 (plus $60k in other compensation); and $7.9 million in 2012 (plus $56k in other compensation). Rather astounding actually, but perhaps there is a back story?"

Dan Beeman: "adly the wealthy are manipulating the "public" system. Here we see two large conflict of interests, by two different media companies that are not asking the hard questions. This will continue to happen until we get the rich out of the media business, and trying to control community/public by their wealth. Remember they are not dumping all this money in without getting tax credit and/or write offs, it is not about being altruistic, but generally about getting their way by paying out some tax credit donations while were caught up with the long time bills. Here it was first the tenants of the housing, and businesses along 44th St/Fairmount area. We the City constituents and taxpayers are still paying off the Redevelopment loans, loan financing and insurance, plus other costs. Also the private landholders lost lots of land that is now off the tax rolls because they are either non-profits and/or government owned.



You see the report didn't say anything about the cost of living increases in the area/community. It also didn't mention the costs of the new schools, redevelopment loans, or other government funding put into the area. It didn't tell about what businesses failed or moved: ie tortilla store, 2 auto dealerships, the old Albertsons, etc. The new national franchise stores pay higher rent, increasing the market rate commercial rent in the area, as well as adding lots of other new commercial spaces that do the same! These higher rental rates, and astronomical new property values kill small businesses while also hurting families. The national franchises bring a few new management positions, but mostly pay low wage/limited to no benefit jobs, that many times get HUGE government tax credits! So when the BIG corporations don't pay their fair share of the taxes who do you think pays for it? YOU!! the "weak" taxpayer! They didn't make one mention of the higher cost in gasoline/fuel and/or the huge rate of inflation for vehicles. But they don't want to mention these things. They want you trapped in public transportation that also pays low wages to their workers while giving the private corporation and Billionaire CEO/owner that runs it huge profits.

This is just a few of the truths that should be known in projects like this. Be aware next ten years they will be looking to steal property from Barrio (already happening), Sherman Heights and SE San Diego via Civic San Diego and more eminent domain. And once again you will flip for the bills while the rich gain lots of property, huge tax credits, and write offs. Just like they have gentrified North & South Park, they will continue to steal the property, hope, and money from the poor. All while patting you on the head and kissing your cheek. Good luck City Heights, you will continue to be in my prayers."]
cityheights  sandiego  2014  data  statistics  pricephilanthropies  californiaendowment  crime  employment  income  meganburks  unemployment  healthinsurance  inequality  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  corporations  eminentdomain  taxes  costofliving  funding  government  redevelopment  incentives  charitableindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Sam Hamill :: NewPages.com Interview
"NP: How did the press take off from there?

Hamill: In the fall of 1973, I met with Bill Ransom, who lived in Port Townsend. He and Joe Wheeler, who invented a non-profit arts organization called Centrum, were putting together a Port Townsend Symposium—they changed the name when it was pointed out that Symposium meant “to gather and drink.” They invited me to come and work with Centrum. They gave me a building in Port Townsend that was, for several years, rent-free. So I came here in utter poverty and lived in a travel-trailer, cleared some land, built my own house, and lived for several years. I had no regular income. I was basically supporting us and helping to support the press by teaching in prisons part time, in Artists in the Schools Programs, and working with battered women and children.

NP: Did that ever change, where Copper Canyon Press was making enough money that you didn’t have to support it?

Hamill: It changed in the 90s but it also radically changed the nature of the press, which is why I’m no longer there. It became a corporation, which creates corporate behavior, which is a kind of poison. People get involved in power and money and they lose sight of the real work. You have employees rather than real people who want to give something. That’s just the nature of corporate consciousness and I suppose it has to be because that’s what it’s there for. People make middle class incomes and live bourgeois lives. For the first 20 years of the press’s life, we lived “Buddhist economics,” which means we were not paid. That changes radically when you get a board of directors. You suddenly get bourgeois values and practices, a capitalist practice, in something that hadn’t been that way before.

It’s not that Copper Canyon makes money. Non profit corporations don’t make money. 40-50% of every book that you buy from Copper Canyon or other nonprofit presses comes from fundraising and donations.

NP: So you’ve thrown out “corporate culture” as an appropriate kind of work environment. What kind of work environment do you think a literary press should create and cultivate in its stead?

I didn’t “throw it out.” I simply pointed out that “incorporation” creates a board of directors that may change the direction, the focus and practice, of the organization."



"NP: What are some of the experiences along the way that have proved rewarding?

Hamill: All of the above.

NP: Including leaving Copper Canyon?

Hamill: Well, I chose to go out on my feet [rather] than remain on my knees.

If I didn’t learn anything else in 32 years, I learned to stand up for something against powerful bourgeois forces, and whether that something was as broad and indefinable as poetry or whether it’s really a simple system of ethics, it’s what has sustained me most of my adult life. I’m sure most of that goes back to Zen practice, but I liked being in the service of poetry, and I did a lot of homework so I could do it efficiently and well."



"NP: What are the most common difficulties you encountered? How did you solve them?

Hamill: As presses age, as it were, the major problem is dealing with boards of directors and the eternal fundraising problem, and it’s cyclical, and it’s infinite, and it’s consuming, and it really isn’t very healthy, this perpetual begging for money. I’m not opposed to it—I’m a good Buddhist—but I also think you need to work in the garden.

The “garden” is the labor- and time-intensive investment in our future, whether as working artists or as publishers. What I plant and nourish this year may bear fruit five years down the line. It’s work done for its own sake, for investment in one’s convictions.

Boards of directors are composed mostly of business people who also care about the arts. They want “success,” which means sales, reducing poetry to a commodity for the masses. Great poets rarely reach the masses during their lifetime. Nobody, really, read Whitman or Dickinson, for instance, until the mid-twentieth century. Sometimes the best poets sell in very low numbers during their lifetime. So there’s likely to be conflict in defining “success,” conflict between a visionary editor and his or her support system.

NP: Can a press that publishes poetry forgo that “begging for money”—in a country where people don’t buy poetry?

Hamill: You can’t say that. Part of the problem is that so much poetry is being published—over 2,000 titles each year. You don’t have to sell very many of each before you have a very large audience, but it’s a very eclectic audience. It can’t rival readers of pop fiction, but that’s why we’re nonprofit. We just need to find more efficient ways for the literati to have more control. There’s frankly too much bad poetry being published these days. Every graduating MFA has a fistful of publishable poetry, certified publishable by the institution. That’s foolish. It sets up a lot of false expectations. Most of those people cozy up to academia, where they live comfortable lives outside the mainstream of humanity. And they all publish and publish.

There’s a reason why sacrifice is such a major theme in poetry around the world. It’s a kind of religion. It’s the “vision thing.” We’re losing the tribal knowledge of the sacrifice that it takes to be a poet. We [poets] do this out of love. That is more important than a $60,000 salary. Desktop publishing is both wonderful and a horrible curse, because everything becomes immediately publishable.

Why do people who want to write not know anything about the history of writing? Why don’t they know anything about letter forms? I learned about those things because I wanted to write. I thought you should know where words come from and where letters come from. Did these letter-forms just suddenly appear? People talk about Chinese pictographs—but our D comes from the Greek, probably from Sumerian before that, and is a diagram of a door swinging on a hinge. Our A is from the Greek Alpha, which is a bull’s head turned upside down. So a lot of the letters in our alphabet go back to pictographic sources. We have such a wonderful hodgepodge of ideas in our writing, odds and ends of Greek and Spanish and Japanese. All these words creep into our language and sometimes change and sometimes connect with deep roots to their foreign cultures. It seems to me writers should know about that stuff, but we spend all our time on self-expression.

A good editor goes to school on language, on its sources and traditions, as well as on the poetry. The idea situation would be an endowed press, like New Directions, that allows a brilliant editor to be brilliant without the conflict between the numbers game and the vision of the practice."



"NP: OK, but I still want to know whether for-profit poetry presses can survive today. How did Copper Canyon survive for so many years before going non-profit?

We had an “umbrella organization” in Centrum that allowed us to get grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and we learned to master the arts of poverty. We studied hard and worked hard and made sacrifices for the good of the press."
samhamill  poetry  bookmaking  publishing  nonprofit  buddhism  buddhisteconomics  printing  economics  centrum  porttownsend  bourgeois  corporations  corporatism  organizations  power  money  coppercanyonpress  2006  capitalism  writing  mfa  nonprofits 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Design in Times of Crisis
"What is it?

Design in Times of Crisis is a work-in-progress reflection for a scenario of the everyday present and near future. It is also a series of short-term block seminars (TBA).

It is part of the PhD investigation of two Brazilian design researchers located in Berlin, Germany: Pedro Oliveira - www.partidoalto.net - and Luiza Prado - www.doisedois.net.

It is through an observation of the current state of affairs mostly outside the so-called “developed world” that we aim to construct our scenario. Of course many of our concerns also do apply to other places in the world, but our focus is more looking home.

This is, of course, nothing new. Its idea stemmed from the very nice "Design for the New Normal" developed by Superflux (if you ended up here, you should definitely check out their work). We think that their outline is indeed fruitful and very necessary, but coming from a different political and social background there are some elements we’d like to disagree, and others we’d like to suggest.

Differently from them, however, we decided to call it the "Times of Crisis" because it does concern the immediate present and the probable future. We think that, as design researchers, it is of paramount importance that we investigate this projection and prepare ourselves for it.

In a nutshell, the links posted here will fall in a few categories, which are the characteristics we are framing as constituents of this scenario. They are:

All Technology is Proprietary

Brands and the State will control your technology. What they do is only to lure you into using their services in order to collect data about everything, everywhere. Crowdsourcing at its best. The obsession with the “quantified self” only leads to the loss of privacy and the more proprietary the technology is, the less control you have over your data. In these times of crisis, people comply with giving their data over to brands and the state under an alleged “full disclosure” of their use. In poorer and emergent countries, particularly, the use of proprietary technology, that is, branded tech, is still a form of social and economical affirmation and status, particularly in lower classes. Open-source tech can and will come to the empowerment of small groups and initiatives, but consumerist ideals and patterns are likely to boost, particularly when formerly poorer classes/countries start to gain more economical power.

You Are what You Consume

Brands and consumption are the biggest form of social insertion. Brands explore that ad infinitum and you belong to those groups where your favorite brand fits in. With the rise of a “new middle class” in developing countries, the patterns of consumption are likely to change and grow; the brand is the greatest form of social status. Musical movements in favelas and ghettos praise brands as something to be desired and proudly worn or used, while at the same time brands try to detach themselves from these movements to protect their capital.

Surveillance is Desired

Reality shows become the norm, they are a preparation for an acceptance of a Police State (cf. Laurel Halo in The Wire). Surveillance gives the false illusion of safety, of “watching out against the other”, but also of being watched against yourself. Drones and Bugs are everywhere for the sake of peace maintenance and the quantified self. Proprietary Tech collects your data with games and research projects. Your data is everyone’s data.

Cities are Corporations are Cities

The association (both legal and illegal) of Business and State leads to a City whose form of social and urban control relies on the interests of brands. Big industries support “eco-initiatives” in order to promote a false state of sustainability while securing their own profit through exploring real estate, mobility and other issues that should be of concern from the State. (cf. Carlos Vainer) - also, prices go crazy because regulation is left to a “minimal State” (Estado Mínimo). Giant sporting events and conferences sell an image of a city devoid of its poorer and “unwanted” social components in favor of its market value as commodity.

——

Here in this blog we aim to collect evidence, reflections and projections for this scenario.

A good starting point for the scope of this discussion you can find here. In this text, we pointed out some things we think that are problematic when approaching Speculative and Critical Design from a narrow perspective of the world.
Naturally, this is an open, stream-of-consciousness idea. Comments, critique and additions to it are more than welcome.

Shout it loud at pedroliveira [at] udk-berlin or luiza.prado [at] udk-berlin.de "
luizaprado  pedrooliveira  design  everyday  present  future  nearfuture  superflux  tomesofcrisis  crisis  technology  crowdsourcing  data  control  consumption  brands  branding  surveillance  policestate  laurelhalo  safety  privacy  security  cities  corporations  corporatism  urban  urbanism  socialcontrol  systainability  carlosvainer  estadomínimo  minimalstate  commodities  business  law  legal  specialinterests 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Internet of What Exactly? | mjays.net by Martin Spindler
"With the Internet of Things gaining in media presence, big corporations realise that there’s something going on that they have no real stake in yet. And they come out rushing. Mostly, that’s in conjunction with creating a new term for that thing that nobody has a solid definition of, so they can own the space. Given that, here’s a quick, tongue-in-cheek primer of what corporations mean when they rebrand the Internet of Things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embedded Internet (Intel):
Yay, Microchips Everywhere!

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

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

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

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

I hope this clears things up. Oh, and if you come across more creative new names for IoT, please do let me know!"
internetofthings  terminology  jargon  corporations  2014  martinspindler  via:anne  iot 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Wendell E. Berry Lecture | National Endowment for the Humanities
[via: https://twitter.com/dirtystylus/status/384660397238026240 ]

"“Because a thing is going strong now, it need not go strong for ever,” [Margaret] said. “This craze for motion has only set in during the last hundred years. It may be followed by a civilization that won’t be a movement, because it will rest upon the earth.
E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910)1"



"The economic hardship of my family and of many others, a century ago, was caused by a monopoly, the American Tobacco Company, which had eliminated all competitors and thus was able to reduce as it pleased the prices it paid to farmers. The American Tobacco Company was the work of James B. Duke of Durham, North Carolina, and New York City, who, disregarding any other consideration, followed a capitalist logic to absolute control of his industry and, incidentally, of the economic fate of thousands of families such as my own.

My effort to make sense of this memory and its encompassing history has depended on a pair of terms used by my teacher, Wallace Stegner. He thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.”2 “Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.

The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power. James B. Duke was a boomer, if we can extend the definition to include pillage in absentia. He went, or sent, wherever the getting was good, and he got as much as he could take.

Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946."



"Because I have never separated myself from my home neighborhood, I cannot identify myself to myself apart from it. I am fairly literally flesh of its flesh. It is present in me, and to me, wherever I go. This undoubtedly accounts for my sense of shock when, on my first visit to Duke University, and by surprise, I came face-to-face with James B. Duke in his dignity, his glory perhaps, as the founder of that university. He stands imperially in bronze in front of a Methodist chapel aspiring to be a cathedral. He holds between two fingers of his left hand a bronze cigar. On one side of his pedestal is the legend: INDUSTRIALIST. On the other side is another single word: PHILANTHROPIST. The man thus commemorated seemed to me terrifyingly ignorant, even terrifyingly innocent, of the connection between his industry and his philanthropy. But I did know the connection. I felt it instantly and physically. The connection was my grandparents and thousands of others more or less like them. If you can appropriate for little or nothing the work and hope of enough such farmers, then you may dispense the grand charity of “philanthropy.”

After my encounter with the statue, the story of my grandfather’s 1906 tobacco crop slowly took on a new dimension and clarity in my mind. I still remembered my grandfather as himself, of course, but I began to think of him also as a kind of man standing in thematic opposition to a man of an entirely different kind. And I could see finally that between these two kinds there was a failure of imagination that was ruinous, that belongs indelibly to our history, and that has continued, growing worse, into our own time."



"It may seem plausible to suppose that the head of the American Tobacco Company would have imagined at least that a dependable supply of raw material to his industry would depend upon a stable, reasonably thriving population of farmers and upon the continuing fertility of their farms. But he imagined no such thing. In this he was like apparently all agribusiness executives. They don’t imagine farms or farmers. They imagine perhaps nothing at all, their minds being filled to capacity by numbers leading to the bottom line. Though the corporations, by law, are counted as persons, they do not have personal minds, if they can be said to have minds. It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far ahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations. Land, as Wes Jackson has said, has thus been made as exhaustible as oil or coal."



"In such modest joy in a modest holding is the promise of a stable, democratic society, a promise not to be found in “mobility”: our forlorn modern progress toward something indefinitely, and often unrealizably, better. A principled dissatisfaction with whatever one has promises nothing or worse.

James B. Duke would not necessarily have thought so far of the small growers as even to hold them in contempt. The Duke trust exerted an oppression that was purely economic, involving a mechanical indifference, the indifference of a grinder to what it grinds. It was not, that is to say, a political oppression. It did not intend to victimize its victims. It simply followed its single purpose of the highest possible profit, and ignored the “side effects.” Confronting that purpose, any small farmer is only one, and one lost, among a great multitude of others, whose work can be quickly transformed into a great multitude of dollars."



"Statistical knowledge once was rare. It was a property of the minds of great rulers, conquerors, and generals, people who succeeded or failed by the manipulation of large quantities that remained, to them, unimagined because unimaginable: merely accountable quantities of land, treasure, people, soldiers, and workers. This is the sort of knowledge we now call “data” or “facts” or “information.” Or we call it “objective knowledge,” supposedly untainted by personal attachment, but nonetheless available for industrial and commercial exploitation. By means of such knowledge a category assumes dominion over its parts or members. With the coming of industrialism, the great industrialists, like kings and conquerors, become exploiters of statistical knowledge. And finally virtually all of us, in order to participate and survive in their system, have had to agree to their substitution of statistical knowledge for personal knowledge. Virtually all of us now share with the most powerful industrialists their remoteness from actual experience of the actual world. Like them, we participate in an absentee economy, which makes us effectively absent even from our own dwelling places. Though most of us have little wealth and perhaps no power, we consumer–citizens are more like James B. Duke than we are like my grandfather. By economic proxies thoughtlessly given, by thoughtless consumption of goods ignorantly purchased, now we all are boomers."



"In this age so abstracted and bewildered by technological magnifications of power, people who stray beyond the limits of their mental competence typically find no guide except for the supposed authority of market price. “The market” thus assumes the standing of ultimate reality. But market value is an illusion, as is proven by its frequent changes; it is determined solely by the buyer’s ability and willingness to pay."



"By now all thoughtful people have begun to feel our eligibility to be instructed by ecological disaster and mortal need. But we endangered ourselves first of all by dismissing affection as an honorable and necessary motive. Our decision in the middle of the last century to reduce the farm population, eliminating the allegedly “inefficient” small farmers, was enabled by the discounting of affection. As a result, we now have barely enough farmers to keep the land in production, with the help of increasingly expensive industrial technology and at an increasing ecological and social cost. Far from the plain citizens and members of the land-community, as Aldo Leopold wished them to be, farmers are now too likely to be merely the land’s exploiters."



"In thinking about the importance of affection, and of its increasing importance in our present world, I have been guided most directly by E. M. Forster’s novel, Howards End, published in 1910. By then, Forster was aware of the implications of “rural decay,”10 and in this novel he spoke, with some reason, of his fear that “the literature of the near future will probably ignore the country and seek inspiration from the town. . . . and those who care for the earth with sincerity may wait long ere the pendulum swings back to her again.”"



"“The light within,” I think, means affection, affection as motive and guide. Knowledge without affection leads us astray every time. Affection leads, by way of good work, to authentic hope. The factual knowledge, in which we seem more and more to be placing our trust, leads only to hope of the discovery, endlessly deferrable, of an ultimate fact or smallest particle that at last will explain everything."



"No doubt there always will be some people … [more]
wendellberry  capitalism  corporations  economy  imagination  stickers  boomers  2012  economics  land  place  memory  industrialists  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  culture  art  liberalarts  humanism  humanity  rural  farming  history  debt  affection  knowledge  materialism  howardsend  emforster  ruraldecay  agriculture  aldoleopold  environmentalism  environment  sustainability  destruction  destructiveness  local  scale  mobility  change  adaptability  adaptation  evolution  ecology  technology  machines  alberthoward  wesjackson  johnlukacs  growth  data  quantification  wealth  remoteness  jamesbduke  industialism  power  greed  consumerism  plannedobsolescence  nature  corporatism  allentate  property  ownership  effectiveownership  human  humans  limits  limitations  modesty  democracy  wallacestegner  via:markllobrera  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  babyboomers  control 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Omniorthogonal: Hostile AI: You’re soaking in it!
"Corporations are at least somewhat constrained by the need to actually provide some service that is useful to people. Exxon provides energy, McDonald’s provides food, etc. The exception to this seems to be the financial industry. These institutions consume vast amounts of wealth and intelligence to essentially no human end. Of all human institutions, these seem the most parasitical and dangerous. Because of their ability to extract wealth, they are also siphoning off great amounts of human energy and intelligence — they have their own parallel universe of high-speed technology, for instance.

The financial system as a whole functions as a hostile AI. It has its own form of intelligence, it has interests that are distant or hostile to human goals. It is quite artificial, and quite intelligent in an alien sort of way. While it is not autonomous in the way we envision killer robots or Skynet, it is effectively autonomous of human control, which makes it just as dangerous."

[via and more: http://mini.quietbabylon.com/post/44276219648/the-singularity-already-happened-we-got-corporations ]
ai  singularity  corporations  corporatism  economics  finance  parasitism  2013 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The Corporation Who Would be King | Quiet Babylon
"The new King of Montana is elected by a margin of thirteen trillion votes. Only three biological person incumbents retain their seats in the legislature. The election is not without controversy. Losing candidates file suits alleging that the pace of automated corporate registrations on the Secretary of State’s website acted as an effective DDOS, shutting down competitors by preventing them from registering before the deadline."
corporatism  timmaly  2013  montana  voting  votingrights  property  corporations  government  us  citizenship  power 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Toward Independence – Indiecade 2012 | Molleindustria
"There is a practical way to conceptualize the immensity & absurdity of this continuum. I borrow it from the Utopian & Anarchist thought.

Utopia is by definition unattainable but it provides a direction.

Utopia is a tiny flickering mirage at the horizon.

By the time you reach it Utopia already moved forward…yet an utopian idea is fundamental because it provides a direction.

It encourages you to a constant tactical engagement with the status quo. It pushes you to continuously break away from the forces & entities that make us miserable & are screwing up the world.

This is how I like to think about independence in gaming and in culture.

Not a status but a tension and a direction to pursue.

And the corollary is that we should not be here at these indie festivals to celebrate our little club, to exchange tricks on how to milk the indie brand for profit.

No: we should be here to conspire about how we can be *more* autonomous. About how we can move another steptoward independence."
freedom  independent  indie  corporations  post-fordism  alienation  creativework  automation  capital  autonomy  fordism  history  paolopedercini  cv  improvement  purpose  values  utopian  utopianism  utopianthinking  indiegames  anarchism  control  power  economics  videogames  molleindustria  2012  direction  vision  utopia  capitalism  labor  creativelabor  creativity  making  gamedesign  games  purity  vectors  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: The Robot Teachers
"There is an ongoing and incessant campaign afoot to privatize education. In the United States, education is almost the last bastion of public expenditure. In Canada, both health care and education face the forces of privatization and commercialization.

The results are wholly predictable. In all cases, the result will be a system that favours a small moneyed elite and leaves the rest of the population struggling to obtain whatever health and education they can obtain with their meagre holdings. As more wealth accumulates in the hands of the corporations and the wealthy, the worse health and education outcomes become for the less well-off in society.

(Indeed, from my perspective, one of the greatest scams perpetrated by the wealthy about the education system is that it has a liberal bias. …)"

But here's where the challenge arises for the education and university system: it was designed to support income inequality and designed to favour the wealthy."
via:tealtan  economics  policy  politics  schooling  oligarchy  wealth  wealthy  sorting  tonybates  liberalbias  criticalthinking  higherorderskills  texas  california  corporations  corporatism  bias  corruption  influence  wealthdistribution  poverty  inequity  disparity  capitalism  adaptivelearningsystems  mitx  udemy  coursera  learninganalytics  programmedlearning  universalhealthcare  healthcare  deschooling  publiceducation  onlinelearning  canon  cv  technology  scriptedlearning  robotteachers  democracy  highereducation  highered  moocs  pedagogy  hierarchies  hierarchy  inequality  schools  education  privatization  privilege  us  canad  2012  stephendownes  mooc  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Revolutionary Plots | Rebecca Solnit | Orion Magazine
"But you can’t have a revolution where everyone just abandons the existing system—it’ll just be left to the opportunists and the uncritical. Tending your own garden does not, for example, confront the problem of Monsanto. … Planting heirloom seeds is great, but someone has to try to stop Monsanto, and that involves political organizing, sticking your neck out, and confrontation. It involves leaving your garden."

"The fact that gardens have become the revolution of the young is good news and bad news. Baby boomers of the sixties revolutionary variety had their hectoring bombastic arrogant self-righteous flaws, but they were fearless about engagement. The young I often meet today have so distanced themselves from the flaws of the baby boomers that they’ve gone too far in the opposite direction of mildness, modesty, disengagement, and nonconfrontation. … The garden suits them perfectly because it is a realm of quiet idealism—but that too readily slides over into disengagement…"
corporations  policalorganizing  gardening  idealism  confrontation  activism  politics  agriculture  sustainability  urbanism  farming  monsanto  2012  via:ayjay  rebeccasolnit  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Charlie Kaufman: Screenwriters Lecture | BAFTA Guru
"we try to be experts because we’re scared; we don’t want to feel foolish or worthless; we want power because power is a great disguise."

"Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to."

"This is from E. E. Cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’ The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind."

[Giving up, too much to quote.]
danger  risktaking  risk  failure  simplification  fear  fearmongering  materialism  consumerism  culture  marketing  humannature  character  bullying  cv  meaningmaking  meaning  filmmaking  creating  creativity  dreaming  dreams  judgement  assessment  interpretation  religion  fanaticism  johngarvey  deschooling  unschooling  unlearning  relearning  perpetualchange  change  flux  insight  manifestos  art  truth  haroldpinter  paradox  uncertainty  certainty  wonder  bullies  intentions  salesmanship  corporatism  corporations  politics  humans  communication  procrastination  timeusage  wisdom  philosophy  ignorance  knowing  learning  life  time  adamresnick  human  transparency  vulnerability  honesty  loneliness  emptiness  capitalism  relationships  manipulation  distraction  kindness  howwework  howwethink  knowledge  specialists  attention  media  purpose  bafta  film  storytelling  writing  screenwriting  charliekaufman  self  eecummings  2011  canon  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: 'People Staring at Computers' | Threat Level | Wired.com
A guy installs an app on computers at an Apple Store which takes pictures of viewers through the cam and sends them to him. Then the Secret Service gets involved. Lots of interesting questions evoked here.
privacy  information_arts  government  corporations  via:jbushnell 
july 2012 by robertogreco
On Accountability, part 2: how to do it right « Granted, but…
"Ironically (given how many people like to bash the ‘corporate’ quality of accountability), as Joe Nocera points out in an excellent piece in the New York Times, most businesses have far more professional and collegial appraisal systems than schools typically do: the top businesses have systems more like those of BB&N than that of NY State. So, what does that tell you? It tells me that hypocrisy and ignorance are in the air. It is the height of hypocritical arrogance for DoE folks and lawmakers to pounce on these current VAM systems as if they were models. No modern company uses such a capricious ham-handed system as what the states are racing to develop. I’ll leave it to readers to pursue questions as to why we are racing to the bottom in teacher accountability."
hypocrisy  accountability  joenocera  schools  corporations  business  ignorance  collegiality  teachers  teaching  education  policy  via:tom.hoffman  reform  management  administration 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Fables of Wealth - NYTimes.com
"ethics in capitalism is purely optional, purely extrinsic. To expect morality in the market is to commit a category error. Capitalist values are antithetical to Christian ones… Capitalist values are also antithetical to democratic ones…

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

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

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

"America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves…. It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters."]
politics  classwarfare  poverty  lies  incompatibility  democracy  kurtvonnegut  finance  wallstreet  1%  policy  government  jobcreation  wealth  psychopathy  morality  ethics  motivation  science  art  corporations  corporatism  corporateculture  businessschool  business  entrepreneurship  christianity  capitalism  2012  williamderesiewicz  vonnegut  slaughterhouse-five  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Paddy Ashdown: The global power shift | Video on TED.com
"Paddy Ashdown claims that we are living in a moment in history where power is changing in ways it never has before. In a spellbinding talk at TEDxBrussels he outlines the three major global shifts that he sees coming."
government  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  communities  networks  brasil  india  china  world  multipolar  us  un  turbulence  global  governance  society  unregulatedspace  terrorism  crime  regulation  corporations  history  2011  politics  power  paddyashton  brazil  interconnected 
january 2012 by robertogreco
From Social Business To Superlinear Corporation - The BrainYard - InformationWeek
"…Cities are superlinear; corporations are sublinear…as they [cities] grow bigger, get more productive, creative, energy-efficient, & generally better by just about every interesting metric. Corporations…get less productive, less creative, more wasteful, & generally worse in every way.

Makes intuitive sense, doesn't it? Creative, energetic young people want to live in big cities, but want to work in small companies.

On the macro-scale, this means cities are effectively immortal, while corporations (like humans) are mortal… [and] their lifespan has been falling rapidly…

My theory is straightforward: Cities are open; corporations are closed. People can move into and out of cities freely and basically do whatever they want so long as they can pay the cost of living. So people naturally leave cities that don't work for them and flood into cities that do. This makes cities self-renewing and self-organizing."
lcproject  creativity  bureaucracy  vitality  sustainability  growth  sublinearity  superlinearity  halflifeofcorporations  corporations  deschooling  unschooling  freedom  closedsystems  opensystems  geoffreywest  mortality  scalability  toshare  2011  venkateshrao  cities  scale 
january 2012 by robertogreco
"Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became 'People' and How You Can Fight Back" | Truthout
"Truthout is proud to bring you an exclusive series from America's No. 1 progressive radio host, Thom Hartmann. We'll be publishing weekly installments of Hartmann's much-lauded book, "Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became 'People' and How You Can Fight Back." Join us as, chapter by chapter, we delve into issues of corporate power, popular resistance and the nature of democracy itself."

[Chapter Twelve: Unequal Uses for the Bill of Rights: http://www.truth-out.org/unequal-protection-unequal-uses-bill-rights/1312898624 ]
thomhartmann  corporatism  corporations  history  us  economics  law  constitution  corporatepersonhood  corruption  government  influence  power  control  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Geoffrey West: The surprising math of cities and corporations | Video on TED.com
"Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities -- that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations."
geoffreywest  cities  companies  corporations  biology  walkingspeed  walking  crime  crimerates  population  wealth  organisms  2011  urban  urbanism  urbanization  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
BBC News - Murdoch: the network defeats the hierarchy
"Now there is a school of social theory that has a name for a system in which press barons, police officers & elected politicians operate a mutual back-scratching club…"the manufacturing of consent".<br />
Pioneered by Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky, the theory states that essentially the mass media is a propaganda machine; the advertising model makes large corporate advertisers into "unofficial regulators"; the media live in fear of politicians; truly objective journalism is impossible because it is unprofitable (& plagued by "flak" generated w/in the legal system by resistant corporate power).<br />
At one level, this week's events might be seen as a vindication of the theory: News International has admitted paying police officers; & politicians are admitting they have all played the game of influence ("We've all been in this together" said Cameron, disarmingly). The journalists are baring their breasts & examining their consciences. The whole web of influence has been uncovered.""
politics  media  networks  journalism  uk  2011  davidcameron  rupertmurdoch  hierarchy  control  noamchomsky  manufacturingconsent  consent  advertising  propaganda  power  systems  massmedia  influence  regulation  corporations  corporatism  via:preoccupations  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
"We the corporations" | Move to Amend
"On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.<br />
<br />
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:<br />
<br />
* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.<br />
<br />
* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.<br />
<br />
* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.<br />
<br />
The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend."
activism  2011  politics  government  2010  corporatism  corporations  money  influence  power  control  democracy  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
notes.husk.org. Should Jay have the right to claim the derived....
"“Should Jay have right to claim derived image isn’t fair use & ask for cease & desist? Yes. He’s not, as many are saying, a dick for his opinion. Should Andy have the ability to defend his stance that it is fair use. Of course. Should it take the kind of money that only either corporations or the very rich can easily afford to spend in order to get a judge’s ruling and find out? Definitely not. That’s the real problem here.”

James Duncan Davidson writing about The Maisel vs Baio Incident.

I strongly agree…Currently US (&, largely, UK) ration access to law on ability of both (sometimes prospective) litigant & defender to pay, rather than merits of case.

Another piece…mentions Shepard Fairey vs AP case (Obama Hope poster) would have made great case law. Instead…ended w/ out of court settlement. Shame.

(…another public service which has more demand than access—health care…UK largely rations through need, via NHS…US dependent on employment, age, & to nontrivial extent, mone)
andybaio  law  litigation  money  power  government  copyright  fairuse  2011  paulmison  corporations  corporatism  legalsystem  us  uk  helathcare  via:preoccupations  employment  age  settlements  outofcourtsettlements  shepardfairey  associatedpress  ap  obamahope  jamesduncandavidson  photography  ageism  agism  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Why Cities Keep Growing, Corporations And People Always Die, And Life Gets Faster | Conversation | Edge
"The question is, as a scientist, can we take these ideas and do what we did in biology, at least based on networks and other ideas, and put this into a quantitative, mathematizable, predictive theory, so that we can understand the birth and death of companies, how that stimulates the economy?"
culture  science  economics  psychology  cities  growth  corporations  2011  mathematics  predictablity  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
The Outrage of the Week - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"agreement btwn Gates & Pearson Foundation[s] to write nation's curriculum. When did we vote to hand over American ed to them? Why would we outsource nation's curriculum to for-profit publishing & test-making corp based in London? Does Gates get to write national curriculum because he's richest man in US? We know his foundation is investing heavily in promoting Common Core standards…will [now] write K-12 curriculum that will promote online learning & video gaming…good for tech sector, but is it good for nation's schools?…Gates & Eli Broad Foundation[s], both…maintain pretense of being Democrats &/or liberals, have given millions to…Jeb Bush's foundation…promoting vouchers, charters, online learning, test-based accountability, & whole panoply of corporate reform strategies intended to weaken public ed & remove teachers' job protections…

…scariest thought…Obama admin welcomes corporatization of public ed. Not only welcomes rise of ed entrepreneurialism, but encourages it."
education  reform  2011  pearson  gatesfoundation  billgates  jebbush  elibroad  broadfoundation  publicschools  publiceducation  barackobama  arneduncan  forprofit  technology  gamification  commoncore  nationalcurriculum  curriculum  accountability  onlinelearning  corporatization  corporations  corruption  policy  politics  testing  money  influence  dianeravitch  charitableindustrialcomplex  corporatism  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
State of Play by Mike Deri Smith - The Morning News
"Does your minor want to be a miner? How about a McNugget cook? MIKE DERI SMITH considers KidZania, a revolutionary theme park coming soon to the U.S. that lets kids play at corporate-sponsored employment." [Scary.]
capitalism  play  business  children  themeparks  workslavery  work  consumerism  materialism  consumption  corporations  corporatism  education  indoctrination  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Corporate political transparency ratings - Spreadsheets - Los Angeles Times
"Many of America’s most powerful companies do not report how much they spend to influence elections and legislation. These companies contribute millions of dollars to powerful trade associations and to other politically active groups that are not required to report the sources of their funding.<br />
<br />
Those groups, in turn, spend the money on lobbying and other political activity. The Los Angeles Times reviewed how the 75 largest publicly traded companies in the energy, healthcare and financial services sectors disclose their political giving on their corporate websites."<br />
<br />
[Related article: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-money-politics-survey-20110424,0,1545345,full.story ]
latimes  politics  corporations  corporatism  disclosure  policy  2011  ratings  energy  healthcare  finance  elections  corruption  transparency  government  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Things May Not Get Better! : Stager-to-Go
"I clung romantically to fantasies that Americans embraced democratic principles, the common good & loved children. Learning otherwise is a somber realization, especially on Easter Sunday…

"If you wanted to destroy or privatize (a semantic difference w/out distinction) public education, you needed to find a way to erode public confidence in the each & every public school. But how to do that? [Explains how GW Bush et al. did]"

"Please! watch this video clip from Rachel Maddow show, share it w/ friends & then try to restrain your violent impulses or find strength to carry-on for another day…The message is really important & stunning.

This is the tale of how two generations of severely at-risk young people are having their chances for a productive life and slice of the American dream sacrificed on the alter of capitalist greed, authoritarian impulses & callous disregard for the vulnerable."
education  deschooling  criticaleducation  garystager  unschooling  democracy  georgewbush  policy  privatization  pubicschools  society  2011  michigan  detroit  catherineferguson  schools  activism  neoliberalism  corporations  greed  corporatism  lcproject  government  us  arneduncan  newtgingrich  schoolreform  reform  alsharpton  michellerhee  barackobama  oprah  nclb  rttt  money  rachelmaddow  politics  charterschools  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
‘I am a bad teacher’ - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post [via: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/ ]
"Last Friday I actually told a child who had left three questions unbubbled on a district periodic math assessment to go ahead and fill something into those circles. He looked up at me nonplussed, “But Ms. B, I don’t know how to do those problems.” And I found myself about to launch into a discourse about how some tests penalize you for guessing and others don’t and this is one of the ones that doesn’t so…

Then I saw his 9-year-old face.

One summer in the 1980s, I earned money by preparing undergrads test for the LSAT, the law school entrance exam. The field of test prep was brand new back then, and its one or two companies paid a princely rate of $30/hr. The class I taught was not about content and knowledge, but rather about how to game the system: how to analyze questions, answers, negations, distractors, etc. We were in our early twenties and gaming the system seemed pretty cool.

Now it’s 25 years later, and I can’t believe I’m teaching this stuff to little kids…"
standardizedtestingt  testing  testprep  2011  sujatabhatt  gamingthesystem  education  policy  reform  valueadded  quanitifcation  accountability  data  teaching  learning  children  corporations  datadrivenmismanagement  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Throw Out the Money Changers | Truthout
"Cor­pora­tions let 50,000 peo­ple die last year be­cause they could not pay them for pro­p­er med­ical care. They have kil­led hundreds of thousands of Ir­aqis, Afghanis, Pales­tinians, Pakis­tanis, & gleeful­ly watched as stock price of weapons contra­ctors quad­rupled. They have tur­ned canc­er into an epi­demic in the coal fields of West Vir­ginia where famil­ies breat­he pol­luted air, drink poisoned water & watch the Ap­palac­hian Moun­tains blas­ted into a de­solate was­teland while coal com­pan­ies can make bi­ll­ions. & after loot­ing the US Treasu­ry these cor­pora­tions de­mand, in name of auster­ity, that we ab­olish food pro­grams for childr­en, heat­ing as­sis­tance & med­ical care for our el­der­ly, & good pub­lic educa­tion. They de­mand that we tolerate a per­manent underclass that will leave 1 in 6 work­ers w/out jobs, condemns 10s of mill­ions of Americans to pover­ty & tos­ses our men­tal­ly ill onto heat­ing grates…"
chrishedges  2011  corporations  corporatism  money  politics  policy  greed  wokers  labor  poverty  inequality  disparity  us  austerity  banking  finance  environment  markets  marketfundamentalism  civildisobedience  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Prescribed pain by corporate America - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"This industry is one of the most profitable in the country making about 18 cents profit on every dollar of sales; it is aided by government using our tax dollars to fund about one third of all research on new drugs the industry gets at no charge; the industry spends about twice as much on advertising, promotion and administrative costs as they do on R & D to develop new drugs; the prices charged for prescription drugs in the US are inordinately high compared to the rest of the world and are rising at about four times the rate of inflation; these rising costs plus those for most all health services are rising so fast, companies are forcing their employees to pay a greater share of them or are reducing overall health care benefits.<br />
<br />
Ever feel like you are the bank and they are Dillinger? If not, you probably should."
government  copyright  regulation  pharmaceuticals  bigpharma  markets  health  us  policy  politics  influence  drugs  2011  corporations  corporatism  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - The Story of Citizens United v. FEC (2011)
"The Story of Citizens United v. FEC, an exploration of the inordinate power that corporations exercise in our democracy."
politics  speech  democracy  us  corporations  corporatism  2011  storyofstuff  government  change  corruption  power  influence  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
How to Build a Progressive Tea Party | The Nation
"American citizens should ask themselves: I work hard and pay my taxes, so why don’t the richest people and the corporations? Why should I pick up the entire tab for keeping the nation running? Why should the people who can afford the most pay the least? If you’re happy with that situation, you can stay at home and leave the protesting to the Tea Party. For the rest, there’s an alternative. For too long, progressive Americans have been lulled into inactivity by Obama’s soaring promises, which come to little. As writer Rebecca Solnit says, “Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky…. Hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency.” UK Uncut has just shown Americans how to express real hope—and build a left-wing Tea Party."<br />

[Related: http://www.thenation.com/article/158280/ten-step-guide-launching-us-uncut ]
politics  policy  us  uk  teaparty  ukuncut  usuncut  uncut  taxes  activism  progressive  government  tarp  bailout  deficit  2011  johannhari  grassroots  protest  finance  wealth  incomegap  disparity  inequality  corporations  corporatism  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Tipping Point | Coffee Party
"Years from now, we will think of February 2011 as the tipping point in America’s great awakening. After all the warnings and wake-up calls, this be will remembered as the time when the American people decided to come together, confront the plutocracy that plagues our republic, and do something to change the economic inequality / instability that has grown from it. There is a tide. If you don't yet feel it, here are Ten Wake Up Calls that we predict will help define February 2011 in America.  The more people who get involved, the more meaningful it will be.  So, please share this page with others who may still need a reason to wake up and stand up."

1 Egypt; 2 Bob Herbert's Challenge To America; 3 The Protest & the Prank Call in Wisconsin; 4 Johann Hari's article in The Nation; 5 It's the Inequality, Stupid; 6 The Great American Rip-off; 7 BP makes US sick; 8 House of Representatives run amok; 9 The Stiglitz Deficit-reduction Plan; 10 Tax Week, April 11 to 17, 2011."
2011  tippingpoint  us  politics  policy  plutocracy  change  gamechanging  egypt  bobherbert  matttaibbi  bp  corporations  corporatism  capitalism  corruption  campaignfinance  josephstiglitz  johannhari  inequality  disparity  incomegap  taxes  crisis  banking  finance  government  bailouts  foreclosures  unions  unionbusting  wisconsin  deficits  deficitreduction  teaparty  coffeeparty  kochbrothers  havesandhavenots  money  wealth  influence  power  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
If we're really moving to "Choice 1:1" Schools, where kids pick their tools, should schools or teachers ever be "technology branded"? - Quora
"I have no problem with any teacher or school ever utilizing any training program or opportunity, but I get nervous when I see teachers or schools publicly "branded" - "Apple Distinguished Educator" "Google Teacher Academy Grad" etc. I wonder if, in order to encourage students to choose personally and intelligently, and to prepare them for a future with unknown platforms, we ought to be truly "platform agnostic" - not just in purchasing, but in our personal and school environment presentation?"
branding  integrity  apple  google  platformagnostic  appledistignuishededucators  googleteacheracademygrads  corporatism  corporations  open  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Corporate Control? Not in These Communities by Allen D. Kanner
"Mt. Shasta is not alone. Rather, it is part of a (so far) quiet municipal movement making its way across the United States in which communities are directly defying corporate rule and affirming the sovereignty of local government.<br />
<br />
Since 1998, more than 125 municipalities have passed ordinances that explicitly put their citizens' rights ahead of corporate interests, despite the existence of state and federal laws to the contrary. These communities have banned corporations from dumping toxic sludge, building factory farms, mining, and extracting water for bottling. Many have explicitly refused to recognize corporate personhood. Over a dozen townships in Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire have recognized the right of nature to exist and flourish (as Ecuador just did in its new national constitution)."
cities  municipalities  environment  sustainability  health  corporatism  corporations  law  legal  citizenrights  corporateinterests  change  socialresponsibility  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
A Physicist Turns the City Into an Equation - NYTimes.com ["According to data, when a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity increases by approximately 15% per capita.]
One quote:

“A human being at rest runs on 90 watts,” he says. “That’s how much power you need just to lie down. And if you’re a hunter-gatherer and you live in the Amazon, you’ll need about 250 watts. That’s how much energy it takes to run about and find food. So how much energy does our lifestyle [in America] require? Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts. Now you can ask yourself: What kind of animal requires 11,000 watts to live? And what you find is that we have created a lifestyle where we need more watts than a blue whale. We require more energy than the biggest animal that has ever existed. That is why our lifestyle is unsustainable. We can’t have seven billion blue whales on this planet. It’s not even clear that we can afford to have 300 million blue whales.” 
urban  urbanism  geoffreywest  cities  corporations  growth  physics  modeling  models  energy  density  efficience  freedom  remkoolhaas  planning  policy  economics  self-control  short-termmemory  memory  architecture  design  urbantheory  urbanscience  theory  science  data  census  walking  transportation  patternrecognition  patterns  math  mathematics  infrastructure  jonahlehrer  organic  organisms  consumption  metabolism  sustainability  interaction  janejacobs  collaboration  crosspollination  robertmoses  efficiency  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
SNL: Assange argues for "Man of the Year" - Saturday Night Live - Salon.com
"What are the differences between Mark Zuckerberg and me? I give private information on corporations to you for free, and I’m a villain. Zuckerberg gives your private information to corporations for money and he’s Man of the Year."
privacy  snl  markzuckerberg  2010  wikileaks  julianassange  information  corporations  law  money  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Invaders from Mars - Charlie's Diary
"Corporations do not share our priorities. They are hive organisms constructed out of teeming workers who join or leave the collective: those who participate within it subordinate their goals to that of the collective, which pursues the three corporate objectives of growth, profitability, and pain avoidance. (The sources of pain a corporate organism seeks to avoid are lawsuits, prosecution, and a drop in shareholder value.)

Corporations have a mean life expectancy of around 30 years, but are potentially immortal; they live only in the present, having little regard for past or (thanks to short term accounting regulations) the deep future: and they generally exhibit a sociopathic lack of empathy."

"We are now living in a global state that has been structured for the benefit of non-human entities with non-human goals…In short, we are living in the aftermath of an alien invasion."
politics  government  capitalism  corporations  culture  society  communism  charliestross  empathy  sociopathy  policy  us  economics  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Cultivated Play: Farmville | MediaCommons
"if Farmville is laborious to play & aesthetically boring, why are so many people playing it?...answer is disarmingly simple: people are playing Farmville because people are playing Farmville..."

[via: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/06/29/farmville with this addition "Says DF reader James Murray via email, FarmVille is like a “Ponzi scheme of attention.”" ]
facebook  farmville  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  zynga  psychology  gamedesign  games  gaming  howardzinn  economy  education  design  culture  business  socialmedia  social  technology  media  politics  online  play  society  sociology  toshare  topost  classideas  civics  responsibility  citizenship  community  policy  corporations  manipulation  profit 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future | Beyond The Beyond
[taken from: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Impact-of-the-Internet-on-Institutions-in-the-Future/Main-Findings.aspx?r=1 ]

“Scale is still important. Companies like Cisco have shown how to continue to innovate by acquisition, but big question is how do corporations gracefully end? How can we break cycle of Wall Street, a strong financial services industry is simply not good for society. WS does not improve productivity, the model is parasitic, transferring huge resources out of system. I am looking forward to next phase of the industrial revolution.” – Glen Edens..."Institutions are in dire crisis. Most institutions (schools & universities, political parties & governments, enterprises, clubs, & associations) were created to lower the costs of gathering information, engaging w/ our peers & taking decisions or performing some tasks. When these costs drop because of digital technologies, many institutions have to re‐think where are they adding value & where not, having to be able to get rid of the value‐less activities they perform & concentrate in the ones that still make sense." —Ismael Peña‐Lopez
accountability  transparency  education  institutions  disruption  internet  pew  change  2010  glenedens  ismaelpeña-lópez  wallstreet  finance  organizations  gamechanging  reform  parasites  corporations  businesscycle  information  teaching  learning  communities  evolution  value  efficiency  productivity 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Douglas Rushkoff » Corporations as Uber-Citizens
"I admire folks like Larry Lessig for their faith in our ability to reclaim a government by the people, to use the net to expose and even reverse corporate influence in the political process, and for us to legislate a commons back into human affairs...But I’ve got more faith in our ability, as people, to rebuild our society & economy from the bottom up, without the participation or approval of a corporate-funded & corporate-driven central government. We can rebuild local economies based on the abundance of our labor and resources rather than the scarcity of centrally issued currency. We can rebuild local agriculture based on the quality of the topsoil, the features of the climate, and the nutritional needs of people rather than corn lobby laws. And we can rebuild our mechanisms for making meaning based on our shared hopes and values rather than those developed by PR firms to make us compete for false, individualistic goals. In short, I say screw ‘em. Let’s do this ourselves."
douglasrushkoff  corporations  corporatism  government  policy  supremecourt  2010  law  politics  money  corruption  grassroots  barackobama  georgewbush  activism  activistjudges 
january 2010 by robertogreco
The Supreme Court's gift to big business [corporations can no longer be banned by Congress from spending whatever they wanted on advertisements on political candidates] - Jan. 22, 2010
The Court makes its own rules. It chooses which appeals to hear from the thousands brought to it a year (it takes fewer than a hundred). It decides what the relevant questions are. In this case the Court went far out of its way to address a question nobody had asked -- and to create a constitutional right where none is indicated. "Essentially," Justice Stevens noted, "five justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law." When liberals do such a thing -- and they did so repeatedly in the 1960s and '70s on issues like abortion -- conservatives hollered "judicial activism!" When conservatives do it now, they squeal about "vindicating constitutional rights." By any other name, that's hypocrisy -- and it allows the public to cynically conclude the court is just another political branch of government, except one that's unelected and unaccountable.
politics  us  government  supremecourt  campaignfinance  constitution  2010  corporatism  corporations  overreaching 
january 2010 by robertogreco
The case for economic rights: FDR said it and it holds 66 years later: There are benefits and opportunities every American should expect to enjoy - U.S. Economy - Salon.com
"In the ideal America of economic citizenship, there would be a single, universal, integrated, lifelong system of economic security including single-payer healthcare, Social Security, unemployment payments and family leave paid for by a single contributory payroll tax (which could be made progressive in various ways or reduced by combination with other revenue streams). Funding for all programs would be entirely nationalized, although states could play a role in administration. There would still be supplementary private markets in health and retirement products and services for the affluent, but most middle-class Americans would continue to rely primarily on the simple, user-friendly public system of economic security."
rights  economy  fdr  us  policy  human  healthcare  retirement  welfare  libertarianism  corporatism  corporations  capitalism  freemarkets  socialsecurity  economics  markets  via:cburell 
january 2010 by robertogreco
The Obama Disconnect: What Happens When Myth Meets Reality | techPresident
"Obama was never nearly as free of dependence on big money donors as the reporting suggested, nor was his movement as bottom-up or people-centric as his marketing implied. And this is the big story of 2009, if you ask me, the meta-story of what did, and didn't happen, in the first year of Obama's administration. The people who voted for him weren't organized in any kind of new or powerful way, and the special interests--banks, energy companies, health interests, car-makers, the military-industrial complex--sat first at the table and wrote the menu. Myth met reality, and came up wanting. … Nor, it is clear, was Obama's campaign ever really about giving control to the grassroots. … Plouffe and the rest of Obama's leadership team, wasn't really interested in grassroots empowerment. Instead, they think they've invented a 21st century version of list-building … Obama's compromises to almost every powers-that-be are tremendously demotivating"
via:preoccupations  technology  internet  barackobama  elections  2009  critique  corporations  hypocrisy  grassroots  disappointment  strategy  corruption  finance  2008  activism  collaboration  banking  ethics  media  democracy  history  politics  us  commentary 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Washington's Blog - The Real Reason Newspapers Are Losing Money, And Why Bailing Out Failing Newspapers Would Create Moral Hazard in the Media
"newspapers, bought up by corporations in last generation, have pursued profits at expense of news gathering. By basing their businesses on advertising over circulation, newspaper owners have neglected their true economic base & core constituency...firing reporters that cover subjects that affect the community"... "primary culprit is same as it is all over country, in every industry & in government: equity extraction...when executives expect unrealistic profits of 20%+ per annum on businesses something has got to give. It's an unnatural & unsustainable growth rate. For the first ten or so years of a small to medium size company's life? Sure. But when you are 3M, or GE? Unrealistic and ultimately impossible." A comment: "Everything in our economy, from manufacturing to finance, insurance, real estate and health care, seems to have parasites attached. We need a new model of virtue - quality, not profits - and a new measure of prosperity - salaries for many, not profits for a few."
newspapers  journalism  profits  crisis  moralhazard  bailouts  banking  bonuses  corporations  communitees  business  2009 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Stora Enso - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The Swedish copper mining company Stora Kopparberg ("great copper mountain") in Falun was granted a charter from King Magnus IV of Sweden in 1347, although the first share in the company (granting the Bishop of Västerås 12.5% ownership) dates from 1288. Some claim this to be the oldest existing corporation or limited liability company in the world."
copper  mining  sweden  storaenso  glvo  corporations  history 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Video Games And Participatory Culture : NPR
"Many video games let you create (your own levels in a first-person shooter, your own creatures in an adventure, for example) and upload these creations so you can share them with other players. It's called participatory culture, where consumers are not couch potatoes but rather active participants and creators themselves. But some argue we're merely being tricked into thinking we're being creative."

[more here: http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/playback_video_games_and_participatory_culture_on_npr/ ]
internet  creativity  cocreation  henryjenkins  sharing  markets  whatsoldisnew  whatsoldisnewagain  music  videogames  gaming  littlebigplanet  participatory  culture  participatoryculture  trends  history  media  massmedia  creation  design  profits  profitsharing  corporations  spore  ea  usergeneratedcontent  content  usergenerated  beaterator  marketing  compensation  revenue  art  newmedia  games  participation  ncm  participatoryart  ncmideas 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Demos | Publications - Reinventing the Firm
"crisis has called into question many core assumptions about economic structures, governance & institutions...[but] little attention paid to the basic unit of economic collaboration & production: the firm. In recent decades Britain developed a corporate monoculture in which the ‘shareholder value’ creed treated firms simply as the property of their shareholders, to be traded, exploited & disposed of in pursuit of profit. Government policy making has done little to call this culture into question, depriving our economy of a richer vision of what a good company is & what it can do. This crisis is a chance to ask deep questions about our firms: how can they meet social & political as well as economic goals? How can firms be modelled so that not only shareholders but employees, the economy & society profit? Many of these models already exist. Mutual & employee-owned models of business operate with longer time-horizons, achieving higher levels of performance & customer satisfaction..."
economics  business  management  money  capitalism  ethics  institutions  businessmodels  ownership  well-being  corporations  via:adamgreenfield 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Douglas Rushkoff » Bank Bonuses = Carpet Bag
"Banks, like any other corporation, are instruments for extracting value and wealth – not creating it. They are more like vacuum cleaners than factories. That’s what they were created for: to replace local banking and commerce with institutions that could extract wealth and value from the periphery and pay it back to the center."
money  finance  banking  capitalism  douglasrushkoff  bonuses  corporations 
august 2009 by robertogreco
The 500-Pound Gorilla
"Indeed, we might even go so far as to identify as one of the most crucial tasks in a democratic society the act of limiting the power that corporations have in determining what happens in, and to, our schools. Not long ago, as historian Joel Spring pointed out, you would have been branded a radical (or worse) for suggesting that our educational system is geared to meeting the needs of business. Today, corporations not only acknowledge that fact but freely complain when they think schools aren’t adequately meeting their needs. They are not shy about trying to make over the schools in their own image. It’s up to the rest of us, therefore, to firmly tell them to mind their own businesses."
alfiekohn  2002  corporations  education  business  policy  politics  democracy  priorities  textbooks  tcsnmy  testing  assessment 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Bobbie Johnson meets Douglas Rushkoff, who helped to shape the internet in the early 90s | Books | The Guardian
"Rushkoff says he started working on the book more than four years ago (although getting mugged brought the project into sharper focus). Back then, friends and acquaintances scoffed at his predictions that the housing bubble was going to hurt a lot further down the line. "It's a little sad," he says. "I wrote the book in the future tense, and then when I was editing I had to put it in the present, and then - in the last draft - I had to put it in the past.""
douglasrushkoff  housingbubble  bubbles  economics  books  reviews  individualism  consumption  consumerism  technology  society  culture  interviews  activism  corporations  business  ideology 
june 2009 by robertogreco
LET IT DIE: Rushkoff on the economy | ARTHUR MAGAZINE - WE FOUND THE OTHERS
"With any luck, the economy will never recover...This is the sound of the other shoe dropping; it’s what happens when the chickens come home to roost; it’s justice, equilibrium reasserting itself & ultimately a good thing...The thing that is dying—the corporatized model of commerce—has not, nor has ever been, supportive of the real economy. It wasn’t meant to be...We do not live in an economy, we live in a Ponzi scheme...Using future tax dollars to give banks more money to lend out at interest is robbing from the poor to pay the rich to rob from the poor...Deprived of centralized banks & corporations, we’ll be forced to do things again...we’ll find out that these institutions were not our benefactors at all...never meant to be. They were invented to mediate transactions between people & extract the value that would have passed between us. Far from making commerce or industry more efficient, they served to turn the real world into a set of speculative assets & real people into debtors."
douglasrushkoff  economics  banking  capitalism  globalization  recession  collapse  crisis  finance  alternative  money  politics  credit  commerce  gamechanging  corporatism  corporations 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The High Priests of IT — And the Heretics - Now, New, Next - HarvardBusiness.org
"The dirty secret of corporate IT is that its primary mission is to serve yesterday's technology needs, even if that means strangling tomorrow's technology solutions. The myth of corporate IT is that it alone possesses the wisdom to decide which technologies will allow the workers on the front line to work better, faster and smarter... The fact is that the most dreadful violators of corporate policy — the ones getting that critical file to a supplier using Gmail because the corporate mail won't allow the attachment, the ones using IM to contact a vacationing colleague to find out how to handle a sticky situation, the incorrigible Twitterer who wants to sign up all his colleagues as followers through the work day — are also the most enthusiastic users of technology, the ones most apt to come up with the next out-of-left-field efficiency for the firm.
corydoctorow  productivity  it  technology  business  future  culture  innovation  change  corporations  creativity 
march 2009 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Magazine | Size matters - smaller is better: Want to go large on housing, schools, prisons, hospitals or simply pricetags? Bad idea - keeping a lid on size is the way to go, says Katharine Whitehorn.
"they told Belisarius that an army of 100,000 troops was mustering against him, he calmly said: "Very few generals can manage an army of 100,000." And when they said: "It's now 150,000", he'd say: "Even fewer generals can manage an army of 150,000." Exactly...The question of size is not just about organisational efficiency. It also affects what motivates people to do what they do...I've heard it said that 11 is the maximum useful unit, for example, for those asked to do anything really dangerous and difficult. The same number for frontline soldiers and people 100 feet down a mine. A man will put himself at serious risk to save one of his mates, but not for the 29th miner down the line. ""No matter how many communes anybody invents, the family always creeps back," said anthropologist Margaret Mead. Communes aren't in fashion right now, it's conglomerates and global empires. But in the end we can all relate only to a certain number of people; a unity more or less like a family."
size  numbers  community  family  connectivity  complexity  groups  organizations  tcsnmy  leadership  margaretmead  society  management  administration  coordination  military  business  control  brain  history  families  creditcrunch  2009  corporations  growth  architecture  advice  via:preoccupations 
march 2009 by robertogreco
PLATFORM - Desk Killer
"By shining a light into the world of the bureaucrats, planners and businessmen who contributed to Nazism and the Holocaust, the desk killer raises a critical question as to whether such an event can be viewed as a finished, historical episode or whether the psychology and behaviour that enabled genocide to occur then is not only still present today, but exists quite specifically both in the institutional culture of transnational corporations and in the mindset and activity of many individuals working for such corporations."
via:grahamje  bureaucracy  management  administration  corporations  anticapitalism  globalization  markets  art  history  psychology  leadership  activism  politics 
february 2009 by robertogreco
The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis - Monthly Review [see also: http://links.org.au/node/794]
"radically different economic view...suggests normal path of mature capitalist economies...US, major Western European countries & Japan, is one of stagnation rather than rapid growth. In this perspective, today’s periodic crises...point to serious & growing long-term constraints on capital accumulation." ... "The hard truth of the matter is that the regime of monopoly-finance capital is designed to benefit a tiny group of oligopolists who dominate both production and finance. A relatively small number of individuals and corporations control huge pools of capital and find no other way to continue to make money on the required scale than through a heavy reliance on finance and speculation. This is a deep-seated contradiction intrinsic to the development of capitalism itself. If the goal is to advance the needs of humanity as a whole, the world will sooner or later have to embrace an alternative system. There is no other way."
via:javierarbona  capitalism  corporations  investment  financialization  johnbellamyfoster  banking  finance  crisis  economics  collapse  debt  leverage  capital  class  us  bubbles  greatdepression 
december 2008 by robertogreco
David Byrne Journal: 12.05.08: Mattel, Bratz and Creative Rights
"It seems to me that it would be nice if there were a fairer attitude towards passed-over creations. What if the law said this: if a company like Mattel turned down his drawings, then they would automatically revert back to him after some period of time — a couple of years, for example. Long enough for Mattel to reconsider, given an always-changing marketplace, but short enough that the creation, whatever it is, might still be relevant. This could apply to recording artists, screenwriters, designers, authors and photographers — where the same kind of proprietary nastiness happens all the time."
copyright  patents  mattel  law  toys  barbie  bratz  creativity  music  art  design  corporations  davidbyrne 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Enlightened Capitalism: Building a New Corporate Consciousness
"So, what are these sustainable companies doing right? Put another way, what are they doing differently? --- Abolishing the term or notion of “Corporate Social Responsibility”; Shifting from linear to systems-based thinking; Teaching employees new types of collaboration; Showing respect for employees; Empowering employees by helping them to make a difference; Setting goals that challenge the imagination; Using transparency to solve problems"
leadership  management  administration  corporations  responsibility  well-being  employees  transparency  collaboration  syatems  organizations 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Simon Caulkin: Guess what? Self-interest is bad for the economy | Business | The Observer
"When Alan Greenspan told the House Oversight Committee 'I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms', the effect was the same as Frodo and Sam casting the Ring of Power into the fires of Mount Doom at the end of The Lord of the Rings: the edifice of 21st-century management shook to its foundations.
via:preoccupations  alangreenspan  economics  capitalism  self-interest  management  policy  markets  corporations  2008  crisis 
november 2008 by robertogreco
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