robertogreco + distraction   142

Why Your Brain Needs Idle Time – Elemental
"Mental idle time, meanwhile, seems to facilitate creativity and problem-solving. “Our research has found that mind-wandering may foster a particular kind of productivity,” says Jonathan Schooler, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara who has studied mind-wandering extensively. He says overcoming impasses — including what he calls “a-ha!” moments — often happen when people’s minds are free to roam.

Schooler mentions the common experience of not being able to recall a word that’s on the tip of your tongue — no matter how hard you try to think of it. But as soon as you move onto another mental task, the word pops into your head. “I think it’s very possible that some unconscious processes are going on during mind-wandering, and the insights these processes produce then bubble up to the surface,” he says.

It’s also possible that depriving the brain of free time stifles its ability to complete this unconscious work. “I think we need to recognize that the brain’s internal train of thought can be of value in itself,” Schooler says. “In the same way we can experience a sleep deficit, I think we can experience a mind-wandering deficit.”

“Many people find it difficult or stressful to do absolutely nothing,” he adds. Instead, Schooler says “non-demanding” tasks that don’t require much mental engagement seem to be best at fostering “productive” mind-wandering. He mentions activities like going for a walk in a quiet place, doing the dishes, or folding laundry — chores that may occupy your hands or body but that don’t require much from your brain.

While a wandering mind can slip into some unhelpful and unhealthy states of rumination, that doesn’t mean blocking these thoughts with constant distraction is the way to go. “I think it’s about finding balance between being occupied and in the present and letting your mind wander — [and] about thinking positive thoughts and thinking about obstacles that may stand in your way,” says Schooler.

There may be no optimal amount of time you can commit to mental freedom to strike that balance. But if you feel like it takes “remarkable effort” for you to disengage from all your favorite sources of mental stimulation, that’s probably a good sign you need to give your brain more free time, Immordino-Yang says. “To just sit and think is not pleasant when your brain is trained out of practicing that, but that’s really important for well-being,” she adds.

Frank recommends starting small — maybe take a 15-minute, distraction-free walk in the middle of your day. “You might find your world changes,” he says."
brain  jonathnschooler  idleness  2019  cognition  psychology  neuroscience  downtime  daydreaming  mindwandering  walking  quiet  chores  mentalload  cognitiveload  thinking  howwethink  epiphanies  creativity  problemsolving  mentalhealth  attention  distraction  doingnothing 
may 2019 by robertogreco
A Book Addict's Defense of the Smartphone | Technology and Learning
"A counterargument to the emerging conventional wisdom"



"Smartphones are either like cigarettes or comic books. Either bad for humans, or good for those who make their living telling us what is bad.

The smartphone worrywarts have some evidence on their side. I’ll get to some disturbing smartphone numbers in a second, but first some smartphone love.

Smartphones are the best thing to happen to book lovers since the paperback. The iPhone is a bookstore, library, and narrator.

The biggest reason that we don’t read more books is not lack of desire, but a shortage of time.

With my iPhone, I’m able to listen to audiobooks while walking, cooking, and cleaning. The Kindle iOS app allows me to read e-books in short bursts. I’ll read a page or two while standing in line at the grocery store, or while eating my morning cereal.

Does the advantages of the iPhone for book discovery, portability and reading outweigh the costs of mobile computing for everything else?

The big worry about smartphones is that they are killing our ability to focus. Productive thinking requires our attention, and smartphones are attention magnets.

On average, smartphone users (which is everyone now) spend 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on their phones. The top 20 percent of smartphone users are on their devices for an average of 4.5 hours per day.

Smartphones have been associated with everything from rising levels of anxiety and depression among teenagers to damaging interpersonal relationships.

Professors find the use of smartphones so distracting for teaching and learning that 1 in 4 has banned them from their classes.

A recent MIT study showed that even a single day with access to their smartphone can cause college students to have elevated levels of stress and anxiety.

Some warning signs of smartphone addiction that I found online include:

• “Difficulty completing chores or work due to concentration issues.”

• "Seclusion from family and friends or using your phone when in conversation.”

• Masking of smartphone use by sneaking off to the bathroom at work.

• “Worry that you’re missing out on something when you’re not with your phone.”

• Feeling "anxious or irritable” when not with your phone

• Sleep problems.

There seems to be a growing acceptance that we can’t control our smartphone actions. A recent NYTimes article called "Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain" (2/23/19) received 495 comments.

Almost half of Americans have tried to limit their smartphone usage in the past, with only 30 percent being successful.

I could go on enumerating all the disturbing smartphone statistics.

My point is not that I don’t think that smartphones can cause problems for attention, focus, and interpersonal relationships. I’ll stipulate that we have not adjusted to the downsides of having the internet - and everything that comes along with the web - in our pockets.

What I am saying is that the advantages of being to store, listen to, and read books - wherever and whenever - outweigh all the smartphone negatives.

The audiobook and the e-book, purchased (or borrowed) and read/listened to on a smartphone, is the game changer for book lovers.

Strangely, the wonderful opportunities to spend more time reading books that smartphones have enabled has gone largely uncelebrated. Academics - we people of the book - should be overjoyed about the potential of the smartphone to increase reading time.

We should be making the argument that the problem with the smartphone is not the device, but how people use it. Delete that Facebook app. Get rid of Twitter. Take the games off the phone. Maybe even remove your e-mail accounts.

Keep the Kindle and Audible apps. (Or whatever e-book and audiobook app that you use).

Think only of the smartphone as a reading device and a bookshelf.

Do you use your phone to read books?"
smartphones  mobile  phones  howweread  reading  joshuakim  infooverload  distraction  kindle  ebooks  audiobooks  access  accessibility  attention  2019 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Brian Selznick: By the Book - The New York Times
"I learned that Leonardo da Vinci was a failure. Walter Isaacson’s wonderful biography turns Leonardo from an icon into a human being. For me Leonardo becomes the most human in the explorations of his endless failures: unfinished paintings and statues, ruined frescoes, unpublished ideas, unbuilt machines. Michelangelo even made fun of Leonardo for never managing to finish a giant bronze horse. Of course, these failures are tied to Leonardo’s deep curiosity, which kept him endlessly moving forward, questing for more knowledge and understanding, while the things that we recognize as his “work” often seemed to suffer. Isaacson points out that many experts bemoan all the unfinished work left in the wake of Leonardo’s self-education, but he also points out that it’s the same self-education that enabled Leonardo to create the “Vitruvian Man,” the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” Not bad for a failure, I guess."
failure  leonardodavinci  2018  brianselznick  unfinished  curiosity  michelangelo  messiness  self-education  education  howwelearn  learning  distraction  art  invention  ideas 
february 2018 by robertogreco
What should teachers understand about the snapchat back-channel? - Long View on Education
"When I find my students on their phones or off-task on their computers, I try to first ask them the honest question, ‘What are you up to?’ Even though I usually re-direct them back on task, I want to understand them better as people with the hopes that I can make school as meaningful for them as possible.

It’s from that position that I ask: What should teachers understand about the Snapchat back-channel that has become so pervasive in our schools and classrooms?

It’s really nothing like passing notes, day-dreaming, or staring out the window.
Snapchat uses gamification techniques to incentivize participation, which I can’t help but read in the context of how Uber uses similar techniques to coerce its drivers, all without the appearance of coercion:
“To keep drivers on the road, the company has exploited some people’s tendency to set earnings goals — alerting them that they are ever so close to hitting a precious target when they try to log off. It has even concocted an algorithm similar to a Netflix feature that automatically loads the next program, which many experts believe encourages binge-watching. In Uber’s case, this means sending drivers their next fare opportunity before their current ride is even over.”

We live in a culture where active listening, deep reading, and quiet reflection must compete with the incentivization to constantly participate and score points. I don’t read this as a lesson in psychology like a 5 Unusual Ways to be More Productive listicle, but rather as a lesson in politics and democracy: 5 Sneaky Ways Corporations Keep You Focused on Yourself in a Precarious World.

The last thing I want to do is normalize surveillance in schools by prying into what kids are doing on their devices or to outright ban things. That kind of approach both reflects ableism, ignoring how some people might rely on devices to learn, and classism, ignoring how people with low-incomes might rely on smartphones for internet access.

Should we turn Snapchat into an educational tool? I doubt that kids want school to bleed into their social space any more than my generation wanted their teachers to post homework assignments in mall food courts, on basketball hoops, or Facebook.

Should teachers aim to be more entertaining than Snapchat? I view education as kind of conversation which requires both parties to make an effort to listen. The classroom should explicitly examine and address the conditions under which people have a voice. As someone with power in the classroom, I am less worried about kids paying attention to me than I am worried about them paying attention to each other. What student would want to become vulnerable by sharing their important thoughts if they are really entering into a combat for attention, trying to out-entertain an app designed to be addictive?

Should we just butt out, as Gary Stager suggests? Amy Williams poses an important question in reply:

[tweet by Benjamin Doxtdator @doxtdatorb
https://twitter.com/doxtdatorb/status/863648814724505600 ]
"@garystager Which doesn't mean monitoring or surveilling the kids or banning it"

[tweet by Amy Williams @MsWilliamsEng
https://twitter.com/MsWilliamsEng/status/863688181811687425 ]
"@doxtdatorb @garystager Can a school follow anti-discrimination laws (i.e. really claim that it's preventing harassment) & ignore what happens in backchannels?"

Relegating Snapchat to a completely unsupervised space in schools makes no more sense than not supervising playgrounds, especially given the unprecedented power of social media to quickly spread images far and wide. Supervising the playground does not mean that I don’t allow kids the freedom to talk without me hearing every word, but somehow balancing the freedoms that kids need with obligations to care for them.

I think I worry most about students taking photos and sharing them without consent. Who could learn under those conditions? I couldn’t. Imagine taking a risk by trying a new move in PE class or giving a speech and then seeing a phone peek back at you. As a teacher that uses a lot of technology, I play a role in modelling best practices. If I want to tweet something from my classroom, I tell my students why I want to take a picture of them, show them the photo, and then ask if they are willing to let me post it.
Mostly, I’d love to hear what students think. Imagine the possibilities in large-scale research that solicited anonymous feedback and also made use of in-depth interviews. We might be missing an opportunity to really learn something."

[See also:

https://twitter.com/doxtdatorb/status/863799711098130433

"Nope, it's this kind of nonsense that equates education with entertainment and immediate gratification that's the problem."

in response to

"If kids in your class are more engaged by a fidget spinner than they are by your lesson, the spinner isn't the problem. Your lesson is."
https://twitter.com/plugusin/status/863389674223669248 ]
technology  education  schools  snapchat  socialmedia  distraction  entertainment  coercion  gamification  classism  garystager  learning  supervision  surveillance  modeling  reflection  silence  quiet  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sfsh  middleground  amywilliams  edutainment  engagement  gratification  fidgetspinners  discrimination  backchannels 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Deeply Aggrieved
"Van Jones, whom Bruni quotes, offers to students that “I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back.” And I wonder: Does Jones, does Bruni, think that students aren’t offended—deeply aggrieved and offended and upset—everywhere every single day? How dare we presume that students live idle lives when we’re not watching? How dare we believe it is our responsibility to forge their character through intellectual adversity?

C’mon, really? Among undergraduate women, 23.4% will be or have been raped. Upwards of 24% of students are food insecure, even though 63% of them are working. And that’s just for starters. Hate crime, domestic abuse, fears about the stability and reliability of health care, concerns about the environment—all the things that plague working adults with advanced degrees also plague students. The difference is that those “working adults” don’t have professors telling them to “put on some boots and learn how to deal with adversity.”

But what does all of this have to do with a dyslexic student who found herself unable to use the device on which she relied in—ahem—a computer science class?

Academia has long touted its own brand without paying attention to whether or not its product works. Universities and colleges not only stand on tradition, they promote a propaganda of tradition, a dogged effort to raise the quality of human character through intellectualism, rationality, and expertise supported by relentless surveillance and punishment of plagiarism, sloth, and student agency, and a tireless resistance to cultural change, technology, and diversity. The Student is the weak link in the academy, the wild horse that needs breaking, or the lazy scissorbill who must be taught discipline and integrity...and more recently, the privileged Millennial whose character can only be built through an unforgiving exposure to adversity.

But the academy and its students see the world very differently. Devices are not distractions. And adversity is something carried on the back into class. While academics enact social justice through diatribes, literary analysis, and social get-togethers, students are finding themselves on the front lines. They are dealing with their disabilities, they are confronting racism, they are walking out of classrooms to join protests, they are standing up for their undocumented colleagues. They are taking risks. And even if the only thing they’re doing is attending our classes, that is risk enough.

Your students have fought, your students have hidden from bullies, your students have been hungry, they have passed for straight, they have held their tongues, and they have been broken.
In many cases, the students you work with have had to subvert a system that sought to oppress them in order to make it to your classroom.
Institutions that refuse to move—not into the future, but into the present—are enacting a masochistic nostalgia. Things are not the way they were, and to isolate our philosophies in an historic moment is to condemn their practicality. Just as perilous is to assume the academy exists in a safe vacuum, where political tensions that light the nation on fire will not penetrate the halls of ivy-grown intellectualism and rationality. Universities hope to be environments for stable inquiry, where research and dialogue trump matters more visceral. But the students are restless y'all. These upon whose shoulders our futures will be built are staring down an apocalypse—of government, of environment, of justice, and of common sense.

In a world run by people who take the low road, taking the high road is not practical. We need people who will meet others on the low road if we are to cease this downward spiral. I am not advocating for violence—that the Middlebury protest ended in violence muted its usefulness. Instead, I am advocating for a Zen-like honesty about the state of things. The academy will not solve the crises its students face. But the students themselves may.

We do not do what we do so that students can be like us. We do what we do precisely because they can't be. We cannot afford for them to carry on our traditions. And for that reason, I encourage the academy, and all of those who advocate for its primacy, to consider the ways in which it has sheltered itself from the world, and to put on some boots, become deeply aggrieved, and be strong."
seanmichaelmorris  2017  vanjones  frankbruni  highered  highereducation  tradtion  academia  adversity  privilege  technology  education  middleburycollege  charlesmurray  bootstraps  distraction  assistivetechnology  dyslexia  socialjustice  disability  bullying  oppression  nostlagia  masochism  lowroad  highroad  disabilities 
may 2017 by robertogreco
We need a "slow food" movement for higher education — Quartz
"The academy has moved to the fast lane. Corporatization has sped up the clock, compromising teaching, scholarship, and collegiality. The “slow movement”—originating in slow food—challenges the frantic pace and homogenization of contemporary culture. We believe that adopting the principles of “slow” into the professional practice of academia is an effective way to alleviate time poverty, preserve humanistic education, and resist the destructive effects of the corporate university.

“Slow,” Carlo Petrini makes clear in Slow Food Nation (2007), is not really about speed. It’s about the difference “between attention and distraction; slowness, in fact, is not so much a question of duration as of an ability to distinguish and evaluate, with the propensity to cultivate pleasure, knowledge, and quality.”

Being a professor is a privilege. We are not advocating slacking off, letting junior faculty do the heavy lifting, taking the summers off, missing deadlines, or doing less in class. Our view, advocated in our book The Slow Professor (2016), is rather about protecting the work that matters. Due to expanding workloads, the casualization of labor, the rise of technology, the consumer model of education, and increasing managerialism, the nature of the academy has changed dramatically in the past generation. Universities are now businesses. Teaching and learning are increasingly standardized, emphasizing the transfer of skills and time to completion. Both are now assessed in quantitative rather than qualitative terms. Research now is about winning grants and generating output—all as quickly as possible. Collegiality now is about useful networking.

Distractedness and fragmentation characterize contemporary life. In order to protect the intellectual and pedagogic life of the university, we need to create opportunities to think and to shift our sense of time. This might mean getting away from having everything scheduled down to the minute. We can’t do our best work if we are frantic.

It is also crucial to be aware of the structural changes in the university so we don’t blame ourselves for not keeping up. And we should not forget the joy that is possible in teaching and scholarship. We are drawn to the slow movement because its critique of contemporary culture insists on the importance of pleasure and conviviality. Talking about individual stress and trying to find ways to foster wellbeing have political implications. If we are stressed, we feel powerless to change the larger context. In the corporate university, aggressive individualism and the familiar bottom line dominate at the expense of community and social critique.

Slow teaching is not about lowering standards. Rather, it is about reducing our distractedness so that we can focus on our students and our subjects. We need to be able to concentrate on creating a convivial classroom in which our students can meet the challenges—and we can foster the joys—of learning a discipline.

Slow scholarship is about resisting the pressure to reduce thinking to the imperative of immediate usefulness, marketability, and grant generation. It’s about preserving the idea of scholarship as open-ended enquiry. It will improve the quality of teaching and learning.

In the current climate, most of us simply don’t have time for genuine collegiality. As academics become more isolated from each other, we are also becoming more compliant—more likely to see structural problems, including those of general working conditions, as individual failings. When that happens, resistance to corporatization seems futile. Collegiality, properly understood as a community practice, is about mutual support rather than works-in-progress, about sharing our failures as well as our successes, and about collaboration as well as competition. It offers solidarity.

We acknowledge the systemic inequities in the university, but we believe that a slow approach is potentially relevant across the spectrum of academic positions. Slow time is inimical to the corporate university. Scholars in tenured positions, given the protection that we enjoy, have an obligation to try to improve in the working climate for all of us. We are concerned that the bar is being continually raised for faculty and for graduate students. We need to reflect on what we are modeling for each other and the next generation of academics."
slow  sloweducation  highered  highereducation  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  2017  collegiality  time  carlopetrini  slowness  pleasure  knowledge  quality  attention  distraction 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Science and the Senses: Perturbation — Cultural Anthropology
"I vividly remember how, on certain nights in my childhood, my brother and I would be herded toward the entrance hall of my parents’ house, where the Carl Zeiss Ultraphot II microscope still stands. This was a huge machine from the 1960s, one of the relics that my father would rescue from the constant upgrading of his lab required by so-called scientific progress. To me, as a child, it was some sort of abstruse, mysterious device. Taking up a large portion of the hall, it was a massive object, coming with its own table, which was usually covered with a thick gray drape to protect it from dust. Above the oculars, there was a giant, round screen typical of the 1960s design, all curves and matte metal. On those nights, my parents—both freshwater microbial ecologists—would take off the drape, turn all of the lights off, and turn on the screen to show my brother and me the wonders of microscopic worlds.

Growing up with experiences like this, the notion that science forgets the sensory never made much sense to me. Perception was present and was much more than just that: it entailed the full spectrum of emotions, passions, senses, and the kind of fascination and wonder that only the natural world can inspire. Still now, when I converse with scientists in the course of my fieldwork, I see that wonder and I find the senses present in all kinds of ways. Yet the role of the sensory is shifting. I hear it whenever my mother discusses her work with me: so many of the younger scientists with whom she works are oblivious, she tells me, to the sensorial engagements that she grew up with. “They don’t even count them!” she exclaims, referring to the microorganisms in their samples. “How can you know what you have if you don’t even look in the microscope?” The sensory dimensions of molecular biology are replacing the time consuming, eye-wrenching work of counting by microscope. More advanced techniques allow the scientist to determine what is in a sample without ever putting it in a slide under a microscope. Or so their proponents claim.

The problem with these changes is not so much the depersonalization of sensorial experience. Rather, it is the increasing confidence in new methods and the assumption that these are unproblematic and fully objective. The story goes that 16S rRNA analysis tells you what organisms you are dealing with with the certainty of a fact. Of course, most people working with these techniques know better. But as students have less time to get their degrees and are pushed forward faster, they have less time to doubt and to fully grasp the limits of their newly acquired sensorium. Often these techniques rely on advanced knowledge in other fields, far from the expertise of those who use them, thus hiding their limitations by design. Those who depend on these prosthetics are easily alienated from the nitty-gritty details of the materialities in play, and have little sense of what the limits and constraints of those prosthetics might be."



"This re-scription is useful when considering the scale of the microbial and the scientific sensorial apparatuses proper to it. But it is equally useful for thinking and doing on another scale, which is central to my current work: that of the planetary. Having been sucked into the maelstrom of the Anthropocene, my research tries to resist the traction of this notion and its mainstream political currents. To do so, I attend to the figure of the planet. The planetary scale is the motor force of the Anthropocene, on which the gears of the vast machine of sustainability rely. The way in which the Anthropocene frames global environmental change depends on the same sensorial apparatuses that make the planet. But in the process of making environmental emergency, the Anthropocene also risks remaking the planet Earth in its own image, perpetuating dangerous elisions and tensions and forgetting the limits of its own planetary sensorium. In resisting the notion of the planetary, then, I attend to it historically and praxiographically—but also, one might say, scientifically. My aim is to flesh out not only the continuities in the histories of this notion and its object, but also the gaps, interruptions, and diversions that characterize it. In doing so, I aim to offer inspiration for unfolding alternative constellations of the planetary. Here, the planet emerges not only as an object; it complicates the clear distinction between subjects and objects that informs the official epistemology of modern science. Rethinking the sensory in terms of modes of attention (and distraction) can, I think, play a crucial role in this rearticulation of the planetary away from received theories of knowledge, toward a world in which knowing is just one among a multiplicity of practices and doings/undoings that make worlds in which living together, willy-nilly, is done.



Attending to the sensorium of the planetary highlights the technosocial apparatuses that are at work in making planetary vision possible. It imagines as nature not only the planet, but also satellites, spaceflight, remote sensing, radioisotope tracers, global circulation models; the vast machine of climate-change science policy; social phenomena like the green economy and austerity; and the discourses of extinction, loss, adaptation, and proliferation that characterize the Anthropocene. Considering these sensory mediations as relational and historical modes of attention and distraction inflected across heterogeneous materials and sites allows us to attend to how knowing, doing, and living with the planet are enacted in the same gesture. This move can restore the sense of wonder that I saw in the screen of my childhood to the sciences."
science  senses  wonder  method  sfsh  expeuence  2017  donnaharaway  anthropology  anthropocene  perception  doubt  prosthetics  technology  time  technoscience  attention  maríacarozzi  williamjames  vincianedespret  knowing  distraction 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The Bliss Station
"It’s felt impossible lately not to be distracted and despondent. I’m trying to spend as much time at my bliss station as I can.

What’s a bliss station? Here’s Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth:
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

My wife pointed out to me that Campbell says you must have a room OR a certain hour — whether Campbell really meant this or not, she suggested that maybe it’s possible that a bliss station can be not just a where, but a when. Not just a sacred space, but also a sacred time.

The deluxe package would be having both a special room and a special hour that you go to it, but we started wondering whether one would make up for not having the other.

For example, say you have a tiny apartment that you share with small children. There’s no room for your bliss station, there’s only time: When the kids are asleep or at school or day care, even a kitchen table can be turned into a bliss station.

Or, say your schedule is totally unpredictable, and a certain time of day can’t be relied upon — that’s when a dedicated space that’s ready for you at any time will come in handy.

What’s clear is that it’s healthiest if we make a daily appointment to disconnect from the world so that we can connect with ourselves.

“Choose the time that’s good for you,” says Francis Ford Coppola. “For me, it’s early morning because I wake up, and I’m fresh, and I sit in my place. I look out the window, and I have coffee, and no one’s gotten up yet or called me or hurt my feelings.”

The easiest way I get my feelings hurt by turning on my phone first thing in the morning. And even on the rare occasion I don’t get my feelings hurt, my time is gone and my brains are scrambled.

“Do not start your day with addictive time vampires such as The New York Times, email, Twitter,” says Edward Tufte. “All scatter eye and mind, produce diverting vague anxiety, clutter short term memory.”

Every morning I try to fight the urge, but every morning my addiction compels me.

“The new heroin addiction is connectivity,” says V. Vale. “The only solution is not one that most people want to face, which is to become lovers of solitude and silence… I love to spend time alone in my room, and in my ideal world the first hour of every day would be in bed, writing down thoughts, harvesting dreams, before anyone phones or you have any internet access.”

Kids, jobs, sleep, and a thousand other things will get in the way, but we have to find our own sacred space, our own sacred time.

“Where is your bliss station?” Campbell asked. “You have to try to find it.”"
2016  austinkleon  josephcampbell  time  space  solitude  aloneness  francisfordcoppola  vvale  attention  socialmedia  howweowork  connectivity  internet  web  online  addiction  silence  mobile  phones  focus  workspaces  distraction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Has the Internet Really Changed Everything? — Backchannel
[See also: http://kottke.org/16/04/on-technology-culture-and-growing-up-in-a-small-town ]

"How have decades of mass media and technology changed us? A writer returns to his remote hometown — once isolated, now connected. And finds unexpected answers."



"In the Napoleon of the 1980s, where I memorized the alphabet and mangled my first kiss, distractions were few. There were no malls to loiter, no drags to cruise. With no newsstand or bookstore, information was sparse. The only source of outside knowledge was the high school library, a room the size of a modest apartment, which had subscriptions to exactly five magazines: Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and People. As a teenager, these five magazines were my only connection to the outside world.

Of course, there was no internet yet. Cable television was available to blessed souls in far-off cities, or so we heard, but it did not arrive in Napoleon until my teens, and even then, in a miniaturized grid of 12 UHF channels. (The coax would transmit oddities like WGN and CBN, but not cultural staples like HBO or Nickelodeon. I wanted my MTV in vain.) Before that, only the staticky reception of the big three — ABC, CBS, NBC — arrived via a tangle of rabbit ears. By the time the PBS tower boosted its broadcast reach to Napoleon, I was too old to enjoy Sesame Street.

Out on the prairie, pop culture existed only in the vaguest sense. Not only did I never hear the Talking Heads or Public Enemy or The Cure, I could never have heard of them. With a radio receiver only able to catch a couple FM stations, cranking out classic rock, AC/DC to Aerosmith, the music counterculture of the ’80s would have been a different universe to me. (The edgiest band I heard in high school was The Cars. “My Best Friend’s Girl” was my avant-garde.)

Is this portrait sufficiently remote? Perhaps one more stat: I didn’t meet a black person until I was 16, at a summer basketball camp. I didn’t meet a Jewish person until I was 18, in college.

This was the Deep Midwest in the 1980s. I was a pretty clueless kid."



"“Basically, this story is a controlled experiment,” I continue. “Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology.”

Photog2 begins to fiddle with an unlit Camel Light, which he clearly wants to go smoke, even if it is 8 degrees below zero outside. But I am finding the rhythm of my pitch.

“All scientific experiments require two conditions: a static environment and a control — a testable variable that changes. Napoleon is the static environment; technology, the control. With all else being equal, this place is the perfect environment to explore societal questions like, What are the effects of mass communications? How has technology transformed the way we form ideas? Does access to information alone make us smarter?”

“How am I supposed to photograph that?” asks Photog2."



"As we discuss other apps on his home screen — YouTube, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo — I realize that my line of questions are really just attempts to prove or disprove a sentence that I read on the flight to Dakota. The sentence appears on page 20 of Danah Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, a study of the social lives of networked teens:
What the drive-in was to teens in the 1950s and the mall was in the 1980s, Facebook, texting, Twitter, instant messaging, and other social media are to teens now.

I cannot shake the sentence, which seems to contain between its simple words a secret key, a cipher to crack my inquiries into technology and change. Napoleon didn’t have a drive-in in the 1950s, or a mall in the 1980s, but today it definitely has the same social communications tools used by every kid in the country. By that fact alone, the lives of teenagers in Napoleon must be wildly different than they were 20 years ago. But I lack the social research finesse of Boyd, who could probably interrogate my thesis about technology beyond anecdote. So I change the topic to something I know much better: television."



"Whether with sanguine fondness or sallow regret, all writers remember their first publishing experience — that moment when an unseen audience of undifferentiated proportion absorbs their words from unknown locales.
I remember my first three.

Napoleon had no school newspaper, and minimal access to outside media, so I had no conception of “the publishing process.” Pitching an idea, assigning a story, editing and rewriting — all of that would have baffled me. I had only ever seen a couple of newspapers and a handful of magazines, and none offered a window into its production. (If asked, I would have been unsure if writers were even paid, which now seems prescient.) Without training or access, but a vague desire to participate, boredom would prove my only edge. While listlessly paging through the same few magazines over and over, I eventually discovered a semi-concealed backdoor for sneaking words onto the hallowed pages of print publications: user-generated content.

That’s the ghastly term we use (or avoid using) today for non-professional writing submitted by readers. What was once a letter to the editor has become a comment; editorials, now posts. The basic unit persists, but the quantity and facility have matured. Unlike that conspicuous “What’s on your mind?” input box atop Facebook, newspapers and magazines concealed interaction with readers, reluctant of the opinions of randos. But if you were diligent enough to find the mailing address, often sequestered deep in the back pages, you could submit letters of opinion and other ephemera.

This was publishing to me. My collected works were UGC."



"“What are your favorite apps?”

This time my corny question is fielded by Katelyn, another student who my mother suggests will make a good subject for my harebrained experiment. During her study hall break, we discuss the hectic life of a millennial teenager on the plains. She is already taking college-level courses, lettering in three varsity sports, and the president of the local FFA chapter. (That’s Future Farmers of America, an agricultural youth organization with highly competitive livestock judging and grain grading contests. It’s actually a huge deal in deep rural America, bigger than the Boy and Girl Scouts. Katelyn won the state competition in Farm Business Management category.)

To the app question, she recites the universals of any contemporary young woman: Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest. She mentions The Skimm as a daily news source, which is intriguing, but not as provocative as her next remark: “I don’t have Facebook.”

Whoa, why?

“My parents don’t support social media,” says the 18-year-old. “They didn’t want me to get Facebook when I was younger, so I just never signed up.” This is closer to the isolationist Napoleon that I remember. They might not ban books anymore, but parents can still be very protective.

“How do you survive without Facebook?” I ask. “Do you wish you had it?”

“I go back and forth,” she avers. “It would be easier to connect with people I’ve met through FFA and sports. But I’m also glad I don’t have it, because it’s time-consuming and there’s drama over it.”

She talks like a 35-year-old. So I ask who she will vote for.

“I’m not sure. I like how Bernie Sanders is sounding.”

I tell her a story about a moment in my junior civics class where the teacher asked everyone who was Republican to raise their hand. Twenty-five kids lifted their palms to the sky. The remaining two students called themselves Independents. “My school either had zero Democrats or a few closeted ones,” I conclude.

She is indifferent to my anecdote, so I change the topic to music.

“I listen to older country,” she says. “Garth Brooks, George Strait.” The term “older country” amuses me, but I resist the urge to ask her opinion of Jimmie Rodgers. “I’m not a big fan of hardcore rap or heavy metal,” she continues. “I don’t understand heavy metal. I don’t know why you would want to listen to it.”

So no interest in driving three hours in the snow to see AC/DC at the Fargodome last night?

“No, I just watched a couple Snapchat stories of it.”

Of course she did.

While we talk, a scratchy announcement is broadcast over the school-wide intercom. A raffle drawing ticket is being randomly selected. I hear Jaden’s name announced as the winner of the gigantic teddy bear in my mother’s office.
I ask Katelyn what novel she read as a sophomore, the class year that The Catcher in the Rye was banned from my school. When she says Fahrenheit 451, I feel like the universe has realigned for me in some cosmic perfection.

But my time is running out, and again I begin to wonder whether she is proving or disproving my theories of media and technology. It’s difficult to compare her life to mine at that age. Katelyn is undoubtedly more focused and mature than any teenager I knew in the ’80s, but this is the stereotype of all millennials today. Despite her many accomplishments, she seems to suppress the hallmark characteristic of her ambitious generation: fanatic self-regard. Finally, I ask her what she thinks her life will be like in 25 years.

“I hope I’ll be married, and probably have kids,” she says decisively. “I see myself in a rural area. Maybe a little bit closer to Bismarck or Fargo. But I’m definitely in North Dakota.”

I tell her that Jaden gave essentially the same answer to the question. Why do you think that is?

“The sense of a small community,” she says, using that word again. “Everyone knows each other. It’s a big family.”"
internet  technology  rexsorgatz  2016  isolation  cv  web  online  culture  distraction  media  film  music  quietude  publishing  writing  worldliness  rural  howwelive  thenandnow  change  community  smalltowns  schools  education  journalism  books  censorship  fahrenheit451  raybradbury  thecatcherintherye  jdsalinger  newspapers  communication  socialmedia  snapchat  facebook  instagram  pinterest  theskimm  news  danahboyd  youtube  ebay  yahoo  twitter  videogames  gaming  subcultures  netflix  teens  youth  connectivity  childhood  college  universities  highered  highereducation  midwest  television  tv  cable  cabletv  cosmopolitanism  urban  urbanism  interneturbanism  1980s  northdakota  homogeneity  diversity  apclasses  aps  religion  ethnicity  race  exposure 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Rabbit-Hole Rabbit Hole - The New Yorker
"How did “rabbit hole,” which started its figurative life as a conduit to a fantastical land, evolve into a metaphor for extreme distraction? One obvious culprit is the Internet, which has altered to an indescribable degree the ways that we distract ourselves. Twenty years ago, you could browse for hours in a library or museum, spend Saturday night at the movies and Sunday at the mall, kill an afternoon at the local video arcade or an evening at its X-rated analogue—but you couldn’t do those things every day, let alone all day and night. Moreover, content-wise, you couldn’t leapfrog very far or very fast from wherever you started, and there was a limit to the depth and nichiness of what you were likely to find; back then, we had not yet paved the road between, say, Dorothy Hamill and a comprehensive list of Beaux-Arts structures in Manhattan, nor archived for the convenience of humankind ten thousand photographs of fingernail art. Then came the Internet, which operates twenty-four hours a day, boasts a trillion-plus pages, and breeds rabbit holes the way rabbits breed rabbits.

Those online rabbit holes, while wildly variable in content, take recognizable forms. One is iterative: you’re settling down to work when you suddenly remember that you meant to look up that flannel shirt you saw in a store but couldn’t find in your size, and the next thing you know, it’s two hours later and you have scrutinized two hundred and forty-five flannel shirts. Another is exhaustive: you go in search of a particular fact—say, when Shamu debuted at SeaWorld—and soon enough you are well on your way to compiling a definitive account of captive killer whales. A third is associative: you look up one thing, which leads to looking up something distantly related, which leads to looking up something even further afield, which—hey, cool Flickr set of Moroccan sheep. Thus have I have gone from trying to remember the name of a Salinger short story (“Last Day of the Last Furlough”) to looking up the etymology of “furlough” (Dutch) to wondering whether it had any relationship to “furlong” (no) to jogging my memory about the exact distance represented by that unit of measure (an eighth of a mile), to watching approximately every major horse race since the development of the movie camera.

Experiences like these are so common today that, if Carroll had never written “Alice in Wonderland,” we would have needed to invent some other way to describe them. (We might have been aided in that quest by the fact that both nets and webs connote capture and entanglement. Or maybe by analogy to sinkholes we’d have linkholes, or perhaps we’d all get stuck in hypertraps.) But why, one wonders, was “rabbit hole” such a natural appropriation? Granted, Alice, too, accidentally wound up in a convoluted environment, spent more time there than she anticipated, couldn’t find a way out, and emerged, when she finally did, rather dazed. But much the same could be said of Dorothy in Oz, and of a great many others characters transported—by cyclone, wardrobe, mirror, or tollbooth—to mysterious lands.

As a metaphor for our online behavior, however, the rabbit hole has an advantage those other fictional portals lack: it conveys a sense of time spent in transit. In the original story, Alice falls for quite a while—long enough to scout out the environment, grab some food off a passing shelf, speculate erroneously about other parts of the world, drift into a reverie about cats, and nearly fall asleep. Sounds like us on the Internet, all right. In the current use of “rabbit hole,” we are no longer necessarily bound for a wonderland. We’re just in a long attentional free fall, with no clear destination and all manner of strange things flashing past.

For us Alices, these journeys into the rabbit hole can feel accidental and out of our control; thus do we describe them as “falling,” rather than leaping. That’s a somewhat disingenuous take, since there’s no such thing as digital gravity, but it’s true that many Web sites are deliberately designed to function as rabbit holes, and the most successful are routinely described as such. "



"Consider armadillos. Consider digitigrades. Consider all of this, and I don’t see how you can regard rabbit holes as anything other than boundlessly interesting and terrifically fun. And yet, as the phrase has grown more popular, it has acquired a largely negative undertone. By far its most famous post-“Alice” use appears in “The Matrix,” in a context that is unmistakably dystopian. (Morpheus, on offering Neo the red pill: “You stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”) Conspiracy theorists, likewise, love rabbit holes, for the suggestion of a hidden reality beneath the semblance of things, and even the cheery and the sane increasingly use the phrase to describe anything that is dark, unpleasant, or byzantine. The American criminal-justice system is sometimes characterized as a rabbit hole, as is U.S. health insurance, Verizon tech support, and anything having to do with United Airlines. The phrase has even evolved an off-label use to describe a downward spiral in mental health. In 2012, Taylor Swift cautioned against going “too far down the rabbit hole of what people think about you,” and an article on depression refers to people thinking, “ ‘I’m worthless,’ and off down the rabbit hole they go.”

In all of these cases—dystopia, conspiracy, bureaucracy, despair—the salient feature of the rabbit hole is that you cannot find your way out. That can also seem true of our semi-accidental online excursions, but the rabbit hole as metaphor for distraction is not a purely negative thing. Unlike “time sink” or “time suck” or just plain “waste of time,” “falling down the rabbit hole,” when used in this sense, suggests not a total loss but a guilty pleasure. Sure, we could have spent those hours reading Thomas Mann—but go tell that to Alice. When her story begins, she is terribly bored: not just in general, by the prospect of a slow summer day, but in specific, by what we would today call long-form writing. “And what is the use of a book,” she wonders, after glancing over her older sister’s shoulder, “without pictures or conversations?”

Of many uses, this book critic would hasten to tell her. But I would say much the same thing about rabbit holes and the headlong, hopscotching, borderline-random encounters they enable. And I wouldn’t be the first. In “Tristram Shandy,” Laurence Sterne wrote, “Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine—they are the life and soul of reading.” In “The Anatomy of Melancholy,” Robert Burton described his mind as “like a ranging spaniel, that barks at every bird he sees.” That’s the happiest image of intellectual appetite I’ve ever encountered, and I suspect that Burton—and Sterne, too—would have appreciated the current proliferation of rabbit holes. The common charge against our online habits is that they are shallow; but, in keeping with the metaphor, rabbit holes deepen our world. They remind us of the sheer abundance of stuff available to think about, the range of things in which it is possible to grow interested. Better still, they present knowledge as pleasure. The modern rabbit hole, unlike the original, isn’t a means to an end. It’s an end in itself—an end without end, inviting us ever onward, urging us to keep becoming, as Alice would say, curiouser and curiouser."
kathrynschulz  rabbitholes  books  culture  reading  time  2015  internet  online  web  cv  curiosity  distraction  howweread  hyperlinks  hypertext  howwelearn  interests 
june 2015 by robertogreco
A Teenager’s View on Education Technology — Bright — Medium
"Wise to tablets’ distraction potential, some teachers have banned them completely. But that seems ridiculous, considering that sometimes students were required to buy tablets, therefore wasting a couple hundred bucks by not using them. Teachers need to find a happy medium, like having tablet-free lessons followed by a tablet-integrated activity. Also, teachers should consider using laptops instead. They feel more serious, and the addition of a keyboard facilitates actual work and note taking. Laptops may lack the sleek design appeal of their tablet counterparts, but they are far more functional as teaching tools, and a better long-term investment in EdTech.

So yes, tablets can be used to create a new age of interconnected classrooms of the future — but they are just as likely to turn into procrastination stations. You have been warned."



"Like a good little pupil, my first move after school everyday is to boot up my teachers’ websites on an oh-so-eager hunt for my homework assignments. If I’m lucky, a teacher proficient in the dark arts of web design will gift me with a clean, easy-to-use web page. Conversely, an — ahem — older faculty member might construct a lime-green monstrosity that truly should be ashamed to call itself a website.

If teachers feel like students are judging them, that’s because we are. We grew up in an age of immaculately designed websites that were made to be user-friendly.
I pity the poor English teacher out there who definitely didn’t sign up for web design when applying for the job, but times are changing. Nowadays, students often have more knowledge than teachers when it comes to tech. So if teachers are struggling even to post homework, or are leaving students to navigate a site that looks like MySpace circa 1999, it makes them look, to put it simply, outdated.

To remedy the inconsistency, my suggestion is to teach the teachers. Introducing, drum roll please, teacher website building bootcamp! All joking aside, schools should introduce technical support for struggling teachers so that students won’t have to suffer through any more clumsy attempts at websites."



"A touch capable projector screen… Yeah, I don’t see the big whoop for this one. It’s cheaper to hook an iPad up to a projector than to splurge on this thing. Clunky, expensive, and dare I say sometimes dumb, interactive white boards have not been the wave of the future as expected. The biggest selling point is how students can interact with the board. But the limited applications make these boards not worth their price tag, which can run $1,000 and up."



"Really though, I should be honest with you. The truth is I will never like Evernote or other note-taking apps because I am an old-timey pen and paper type gal. A tactile learner, if you will. So when my AP English teacher required that we use Evernote to download daily schedules and to share our in-class notes with her, I just wasn’t having it. People have been trying to capture the notebook experience with the addition of styluses and connectable keyboards, but for me, nothing will be the same as flipping open the real thing. Sorry, Evernote: it’s not you, it’s me."



"Teachers: Before you use social media for education, consider the risks. Twitter conversations are public and completely subject to trolling, when people purposefully target, provoke, and offend online. Trolling can cause a perfectly educational discussion to devolve into a heated argument that a teacher cannot control. Cyberbullying is still alive and well. Imagine a student trying to add an important, poignant comment to a class Twitter feed and not only getting no retweets or likes, but also being ridiculed for sharing an opinion. Teachers and students will be at the mercy of the Wild West of Twitter. The Internet can be swift and cruel. Twitter especially is not for the faint of heart.

Despite the rather scary picture I just painted, Twitter holds immense promise in its ability to connect teachers, classrooms, and schools to students and issues we care about. The best part of using social media in education is that people like me — who obsessively use social media anyway — can now do so in an academically constructive way. My hope is that young people will be taken more seriously, as education and social media converge."



"Though EdTech seems like it’s here to stay, I think that technology in the classroom has a long way to go before being used effectively. The issues that plague EdTech are major — cheating, distraction, privacy concerns, inconsistency in implementation, inequality in access, and price.

I truly believe that the most memorable parts of my education have come when a teacher has taken the time to sit down and talk me through an equation, or given an impassioned speech on how sodium and chlorine become salt. The next step for EdTech is to foster and enhance those memorable moments in school, get teens excited to learn, and make students feel invested in their education anew. While I still have qualms about where EdTech is today, I predict that with time, there will only be more technology saturation, more tech-literate kids, and more opportunities to use tech in the classroom.

One day, I’ll become the crotchety old grandma who says, “Back in my day, we only had iPads, not hologram decks.” And some young whippersnapper will respond, “Well, let me tell you how teens really feel about holograms.”"
sorayashockley  education  technology  teens  trends  edtech  twitter  googledrive  googleapps  googleclassroom  teaching  howweteach  smartboards  tablets  khanacademy  howwelearn  ipads  distraction  pedagogy  learning  evernote  notetaking  2015  attention  schools  youth  socialmedia  interactivewhiteboards  ipad 
may 2015 by robertogreco
An Asshole Theory of Technology - The Awl
"This reminded me of something I came across a few years ago. It’s an account of Sony Chairman Akio Morita testing out the first Walkman:

[image: "I rushed home with the first Walkman and was trying it out with different music when I noticed that my experiment was annoying my wife, who felt shut out. All right, I decided, we need to make provision for two sets of headphones. The next week the production staff had produced another model with two headphone jacks."]

And an accompanying note, written a decade later in 1989, from writer Rebecca Lind (both collected from this book):

[image: "... the potential interaction of personal stereo use and interpersonal communication was considered from the very beginning of Walkman product development. Further, the potential impact was deemed to be something which should be remedied, hence, the addition of extra jacks and the "hot line" feature [which reduces playback volume and allows sharing listeners to converse without removing their headphones]. Because these attempts were made to neutralize this situation, we may assume that the personal stereo was at first considered to have a potentially negative influence on interpersonal communication."]

There seems to be something similar going on with the Apple Watch: an assumption not just that watches don’t do enough, or that other smartwatches are bad, or that an Apple Watch might allow people to do new things, but that the Apple Watch can, and must, fix the way people behave. It is, in this view, a tool for correcting problems created by the device to which it must be paired to operate. The Apple Watch is supposed to be a filter between you and your attention-suck hellworld smartphone; we will give it permission to intervene because it is slightly easier to look at while reducing our what’s-going-on-over-there-by-which-I-mean-in-my-pocket—by-which-I-mean-everywhere-else anxiety just enough to keep us sane. It provides a slight buzz, hopefully just enough, at a lower social cost. So it’s a little like… methadone?

Sony was worried that its portable stereo would be alienating. This turned out to be true. But the impulse to correct it was wrong: the thing that made it alienating was precisely the thing that made it good. The more compelling a gadget is, the more you use it, the more the people around you resent you for using it, the more they are pressured to use it themselves. (The fact that these devices are now all connected to each other only accelerates the effect.)

This is the closest thing we have to a law of portable gadgetry: the more annoying it is to the people around you, the “better” the concept. The more that using it makes you seem like an asshole to people who aren’t using it, the brighter its commercial prospects.

Consider an extreme example: Skip ahead past whatever replaces Google Glass** and the Oculus Rift to, say, mostly invisible lenses that take over for most of what we use phones for now (and, presumably, quite a bit more). It will certainly be tempting to suggest that the lens is less “distracting” then a phone or a tablet or a watch or a headset that blocks your view. And it will certainly help remedy the specific behaviors associated by previous devices. But just imagine how much of an asshole you’ll seem like to people in your physical vicinity for whom lensworld is inaccessible. You will be less present to non-participants than ever, even if your outward appearance and behavior lacks previously known asshole qualities. You will be two feet away and living on a different planet. (Though by then, maybe phone-level distraction will be normalized. Why prioritize people talking to you from two feet away over people talking to you from 100 miles? What the hell is your problem you stupid bad idiot? I’m talking to someone here, way over there.)

This is not to say that the Apple Watch won’t be successful, or that it will. But if it is, it probably won’t be for the reasons reviewers think, or even necessarily for the reason Apple thinks (it was designed by a self-described “group of people who love our watches,” which, what? Who??). It won’t be because it’s a better watch (boring, weird, WRONG) or because it makes non-Apple-watch users less irritable (anti-marketing). It will succeed if it can create new rude exclusionary worlds for its wearers (this is why I wouldn’t underrate the weird “Taptic” communications stuff).

It will succeed, in other words, to whatever extent it allows people to be assholes."
apple  culture  rebeccalind  akiomorita  communication  attention  isolation  applewatch  sony  walkman  googleglass  johnherrman  distraction  oculusrift  mobile  phones  smartphones  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Edutopia | Jacobin
[Too much to quote (still tried and exceeded Pinboard's visible space) so go read the whole thing.]

"Education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It’s a social and political project neoliberals want to innovate away."



"Tim Brown, IDEO’s CEO and a regular at Davos and TED talks, has described design thinking as a way to inject “local, collaborative, participatory” planning into the development of products, organizational processes, and now schools.

Design Thinking for Educators is full of strikingly drawn graphic organizers and questions like, “How might we create a twenty-first century learning experience at school?” with single paragraph answers. “Responsibility” is used three times in the text, always in reference to teachers’ need to brainstorm fixes for problems together and develop “an evolved perspective.” (The word “funding” is not used at all — nor is the word “demand.”)

We’re told faculty at one school embarked on a “design journey” and came to an approach they call “Investigative Learning,” which addresses students “not as receivers of information, but as shapers of knowledge,” without further detail on how exactly this was accomplished.

Of course, the idea of engaging students as experienced co-teachers in their own education isn’t novel, nor is it an innovation that sprang forth from a single group of teachers using graphic organizers to brainstorm and chart solutions.

Marxist educator Paulo Freire developed his critique of the “banking model” of education — in which students’ minds are regarded as passive receptacles for teachers to toss facts into like coins — while teaching poor Brazilian adults how to read in the 1960s and ’70s. His book Pedagogy of the Oppressed helped reignite the progressive education movement during that era, and his collaborative approach to learning remains influential in American schools of education today.

Peter McLaren, who taught elementary and middle school in a public housing complex for five years before becoming a professor of education, has since further developed Freire’s ideas into an extensive body of revolutionary critical pedagogy, which I was assigned in my first class as a master’s student in education. The Radical Math project, launched a decade ago by a Brooklyn high school teacher whose school was located within a thousand feet of a toxic waste facility, draws heavily on Freire’s perspective in its curriculum for integrating social and economic justice into mathematics.

Yet, here we are, a “nation at risk,” with lower test scores than our international peers and children still arriving at school every day without breakfast.

Like all modern managerial philosophies that stake their name on innovation, “design thinking” has been framed by creative-class acolytes as a new way to solve old, persistent challenges — but its ideas are not actually new.

According to Tim Brown, design thinkers start with human need and move on to learning by making, “instead of thinking about what to build, building in order to think.” Their prototypes, he says, “speed up the process of innovation, because it is only when we put our ideas out into the world that we really start to understand their strengths and weakness. And the faster we do that, the faster our ideas evolve.”

What design thinking ultimately offers is not evolution, but the look and feel of progress — great graphics, aesthetically interesting configurations of furniture and space — paired with the familiar, gratifying illusion of efficiency. If structural and institutional problems can be solved through nothing more than brainstorming, then it’s possible for macro-level inputs (textbooks, teacher salaries) to remain the same, while outputs (test scores, customer service) improve. From the perspective of capitalism, this is the only alchemy that matters.

Design Thinking for Educators urges teachers to be optimistic without saying why, and to simply believe the future will be better. The toolkit instructs teachers to have an “abundance mentality,” as if problem-solving is a habit of mind. “Why not start with ‘What if?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong?’” they ask.

There are many reasons to start with “What’s wrong?” That question is, after all, the basis of critical thought. Belief in a better future feels wonderful if you can swing it, but it is passive, irrelevant, and inert without analysis about how to get there. The only people who benefit from the “build now, think later” strategy are those who are empowered by the social relations of the present.

The same people benefit when analysis is abandoned in favor of technical solutions — when the long history of education for liberation, from Freire to the SNCC Freedom Schools to Black Panther schools to today’s Radical Math and Algebra projects (none of them perfect, all of them instructive) is ignored."



"IDEO puts forth the fact that Innova students perform higher than the [Peruvian] national average on math and communication tests as proof that they’ve delivered on their mantra for the project: “affordability, scalability, excellence.”

But if test scores are higher than those of public schools, it is not because of the soul-searching of teacher/designers. It’s because tuition is about a quarter of the national median income. After all, a consistent pattern in the educational research of the past half-century is that the socioeconomic status of a child’s parents is one of the strongest predictors of his or her academic success."



"Design thinking, embraced by key figures in business and especially in the tech industry, insists that educators adopt a perpetually optimistic attitude because that is what it takes to believe everything will turn out okay if we just work together to streamline our efforts. That is what it takes to believe that the best idea is the one that survives group discussion and is adopted. The rabid optimism of the techno-utopian vernacular, with its metaphors that no longer register as metaphors, obscures the market imperatives behind the industry’s vision for the future.

This is intentional. Conflating the future with unambiguous, universal progress puts us all on equal footing. Participating as a citizen in this framework consists of donating your dollar, tweeting your support, wearing your wristband, vowing not to be complacent.

Critiquing the solution only impedes the eventual discovery of the solution. And why make demands for power if you yourself are empowered? Empowerment, as Duncan uses it, is a euphemism. Anger is empowering, frustration is empowering, critique is empowering. Competence is not empowering.

The fact is, education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It is nothing like building a spaceship. It is a social and political project that the neoliberal imagination insists on innovating out of existence. The most significant challenges faced today in education are not natural obstacles to be overcome by increasing productivity — they are man-made struggles over how resources are allocated."



"The United States is one of just three OECD countries, along with Israel and Turkey, where schools that serve rich families have better resources and more funding than schools that serve poor families. The other thirty-four countries included in the index either provide equal funding for all students or spend a disproportionate amount of money on students from low-income families.

In a country where the top 20 percent of the population earns eight times as much as the bottom 20 percent, this inevitably leads to two distinct and parallel systems of education, one for the rich and one for the poor. It’s not that “money doesn’t matter” for reforming the education system, or that technology can be a substitute, but that children from working-class and poor families score lower on standardized test scores than their wealthy peers — and America has many more poor families than rich."



"One example of the importance of this kind of flexible and evolving practice — especially for children from low-income families — comes from Lisa Delpit, educator and author of Other People’s Children. In talks, Delpit uses a situation she witnessed in a preschool in which a teacher handed out a tray of candy and instructed children to each take a piece and pass on the tray. Some of the children took multiple pieces, and there was not enough to go around.

A teacher evaluating the children without interpreting the context, like a machine, would conclude that the children did not successfully complete the task and need more practice in sharing. In fact, after asking why the children took extra pieces, the human teacher found that they were simply engaging in a different kind of creative economy, saving up a couple of pieces to take home to siblings later.

I suspect the innovation Gates is investing in is not a technological one, but a managerial one. The only truly novel thing Sal Khan has done is produce a cheap and popular way to distribute basic lectures and exercises to a large number of people who like them."



"The firing and disciplining of teachers is also an ideological choice: teachers threaten the ruling class. Though they are atomized as workers into separate classrooms and competing districts, teachers are, as Beverly Silver puts it, strategically located in the social division of labor. If they don’t go to work, no one can — or at least, no one with children to look after. As caretakers, teachers are by definition important and trusted community figures, public care workers who can shut down private production.

In the United States, where the vast majority of families continue to rate their own child’s teacher highly, even while believing the political mantra that the nation’s education system is rapidly deteriorating — unique job protections like tenure serve to further strengthen teachers’ capacity to resist … [more]
meganerickson  2015  whigpunk  education  designthinking  timbrown  ideo  policy  canon  paulofreire  oppression  capitalism  inequality  management  petermclaren  salkhan  khanacademy  billgates  gatesfoundation  arneduncan  politics  economics  edwardthorndike  history  bfskinner  psychology  control  power  technosolutionism  progress  technology  edtech  funding  money  priorities  optimism  empowerment  distraction  markets  lisadelpit  otherpeople'schildren  hourofcode  waldorfschools  siliconvalley  schooling  us  democracy  criticalthinking  resistance  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  efficiency  rote  totelearning  habitsofmind  pedagogyoftheopressed  anationatrisk  rotelearning  salmankhan 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Apple Watch: are you feeling the terror? | Julian Baggini | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Instead of being mindful of what is around us we will become distracted by all the ways we have of capturing it"



"The constant monitoring of our wellbeing also feeds the illusion that we can and should control what we can only influence. This again is something we can already see. When people get ill, many now respond with a kind of disbelief: I ate all the right things, did all the right exercises, avoided smoking – so why did this happen to me? This excessive sense of responsibility for what fate throws at us can only be made worse once we are given the tools to track every mental and physical health variable.

Tools like smartwatches encourage a kind of auto-instrumentalisation, in which we treat ourselves as machines to be well-oiled, serviced and working at maximum efficiency. Health doesn’t become the means to living well, it becomes an end it itself. Success is determined by the measurements, not what is measured. Spending time with the one you love is great because it reduces stress hormones, while a good meal is one that brings your cholesterol down. If this sounds fanciful, just think of what we have seen happen when we try to measure health and education outcomes in league tables. Getting good grades becomes an end in itself, rather than genuine improvements.

And yet if all this does come to pass, I doubt most people will regret it. A terrifying vision of the future may come to pass exactly as foreseen, but because people gradually get used to it, those who live there feel no terror at all. As long as we are worried by the prospect of a way of life which reduces human flourishing to a spreadsheet we will have the motivation to resist it. Once we come to love it, we are already lost."
apple  applewatch  normalization  julianbaggani  measurement  attention  life  humanism  humans  living  control  influence  health  distraction  quantifiedself 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Instagramming Dinosaurs: Clive Thompson on Mindfulness as a Defense Against Digital Distraction (3 of 4) | Moosha Moosha Mooshme
"Yeah, get into conversation with people about these experiences and then reflect on it. She might find someone who she didn’t really know respond, “I was there last year and here is my thoughts on it.” Scientist call this “multiples,” which is the fact that people are often thinking of the same thing you are thinking about. They discovered earlier on that frequently someone would start working on a scientific problem and they would spend four years on it only to discover that someone around the world was working on the same exact thing. It’s because, you know, great minds think alike. So scientist realized a long time ago they should be thinking public because then they will be able to find each other.

But the point you raise is about relatives that worry about someone being overly mediated, not paying attention, to the world around them. I do think those fears are a little bit over-blown because we have actually done studies of people’s behavior in public places. It turns out that there is only quite a small minority of people resorting to their phones. A recent Canadian scientist gathered dozens and dozens of hours people outside in a park. And only 3% to 10% of the people were actually on the phones. I would go, “Wait a minute? Seems like there is a lot more.” Well, that’s because I’m sort of noticing the kind of annoying people who will stare at their phones and I’m not noticing the people that are just walking around looking with their eyes.

I will say one thing that I think some of your relatives might be on to, which I agree with, are the danger of our connective thinking, with connection to other people, with the fact that we have devises with us all the time. It can be a distraction. When we have all these different ways to reach and contact each other, we are social beings, so we start to build up too much of a habit of yanking our phone out all the time, just to see what people are saying. And distraction is a real issue if you want to absorb something. Now, I think that actually recording it, talking about it via your phone, is actually a way of paying attention to it. But if you are sitting here looking at the dinosaur and suddenly feel a buzz and you pull out your phone and then see someone in Facebook talking about the party that they are going to have on Friday and you start talking about that, well, now you are in what they a call a completely different domain. You are no longer at all thinking about dinosaurs. And that is a distraction. I think that is a genuine bad thing for your cognition.

But how do you cultivate practices to distinguish between using media to augment the way that you are looking at the world and using it in away that distracts you?

Well, this has to do with mindfulness. Our brains are very flighty, self-distracting things. Half the time when we are distracted it’s not because a phone rings but because our brains just go, “Oh, I wonder about that.” And we stop what we are doing. Monks noticed this a thousand years ago and they started developing mindfulness, which is paying attention to your attention, noticing what you are paying attention to, so that when your brain wants to go and check Twitter “just because” you notice your brain doing that. And when you start paying attention to attention, we become much better at resisting non-productive distractions, like when I will be sitting here, looking at the dinosaur, and part of my brain will go, “Huh! I wonder if anything interesting is happening on Instagram.” If I gave into that temptation and pull it out I will be distracting myself. But if I’m paying attention to my attention, I will sort of notice where this is going and I can decide to check it in a hour when I’m having a coffee.

I have talked to a lot teachers who train their kids, saying, “Hey, you have a brain. Don’t be a slave to where your attention goes. Just pay attention to it.” If you just spent 10 minutes a day practicing it, it starts to become a habit and a really good habit. So it’s something that can be taught.

I’m not even vaguely a meditation person. I joke I’m the least centered person I know. But the truth is, even when I started learning about this, I started paying attention. And it really worked. If I’m out at a museum and looking at the exhibit here, looking at this fossilized head of a T-Rex in front of us, and part of my brain goes, “There is an email coming in!” instead of just being a slave to that I’m like, “I’m aware that my brain is trying to do that to me.”

So mindfulness is the key to using media in a way that augments and enriches your thinking in a way that doesn’t distracts your thinking.

The funny thing is, when I started researching my book, the more I looked at it the more I realized there is no magic bullet here. There really is a human problem here we’ve being dealing with for a long time. Every new technology that offers us new media has always sort of freaked us out; we’ve had to make our peace with them. When glass became cheap in the 19th century and windows suddenly emerged, writers like Virginia Woolf sort of panicked because it was actually distracting to have this window next to you while you worked. I mean it sounds funny but it’s true. I like to joke, We have lot of windows on our computers and on our phones, but those are the original windows."

[The full set: http://www.mooshme.org/?s=clive+thompson ]
clivethompson  amnh  2014  barryjoseph  attention  socialmedia  focus  scrivener  timeout  mindfulness  reflection  publicthinking  writing  behavior  distraction  teaching  howwelearn  howweteach  habits  habitforming 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why has human progress ground to a halt? – Michael Hanlon – Aeon
"Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?"



"Yet there once was an age when speculation matched reality. It spluttered to a halt more than 40 years ago. Most of what has happened since has been merely incremental improvements upon what came before. That true age of innovation – I’ll call it the Golden Quarter – ran from approximately 1945 to 1971. Just about everything that defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown, during this time. The Pill. Electronics. Computers and the birth of the internet. Nuclear power. Television. Antibiotics. Space travel. Civil rights.

There is more. Feminism. Teenagers. The Green Revolution in agriculture. Decolonisation. Popular music. Mass aviation. The birth of the gay rights movement. Cheap, reliable and safe automobiles. High-speed trains. We put a man on the Moon, sent a probe to Mars, beat smallpox and discovered the double-spiral key of life. The Golden Quarter was a unique period of less than a single human generation, a time when innovation appeared to be running on a mix of dragster fuel and dilithium crystals.

Today, progress is defined almost entirely by consumer-driven, often banal improvements in information technology. The US economist Tyler Cowen, in his essay The Great Stagnation (2011), argues that, in the US at least, a technological plateau has been reached. Sure, our phones are great, but that’s not the same as being able to fly across the Atlantic in eight hours or eliminating smallpox. As the US technologist Peter Thiel once put it: ‘We wanted flying cars, we got 140 characters.’

Economists describe this extraordinary period in terms of increases in wealth. After the Second World War came a quarter-century boom; GDP-per-head in the US and Europe rocketed. New industrial powerhouses arose from the ashes of Japan. Germany experienced its Wirtschaftswunder. Even the Communist world got richer. This growth has been attributed to massive postwar government stimulus plus a happy nexus of low fuel prices, population growth and high Cold War military spending.

But alongside this was that extraordinary burst of human ingenuity and societal change. This is commented upon less often, perhaps because it is so obvious, or maybe it is seen as a simple consequence of the economics. We saw the biggest advances in science and technology: if you were a biologist, physicist or materials scientist, there was no better time to be working. But we also saw a shift in social attitudes every bit as profound. In even the most enlightened societies before 1945, attitudes to race, sexuality and women’s rights were what we would now consider antediluvian. By 1971, those old prejudices were on the back foot. Simply put, the world had changed."



"Lack of money, then, is not the reason that innovation has stalled. What we do with our money might be, however. Capitalism was once the great engine of progress. It was capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries that built roads and railways, steam engines and telegraphs (another golden era). Capital drove the industrial revolution.

Now, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. A report by Credit Suisse this October found that the richest 1 per cent of humans own half the world’s assets. That has consequences. Firstly, there is a lot more for the hyper-rich to spend their money on today than there was in the golden age of philanthropy in the 19th century. The superyachts, fast cars, private jets and other gewgaws of Planet Rich simply did not exist when people such as Andrew Carnegie walked the earth and, though they are no doubt nice to have, these fripperies don’t much advance the frontiers of knowledge. Furthermore, as the French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in Capital (2014), money now begets money more than at any time in recent history. When wealth accumulates so spectacularly by doing nothing, there is less impetus to invest in genuine innovation."



"But there is more to it than inequality and the failure of capital.

During the Golden Quarter, we saw a boom in public spending on research and innovation. The taxpayers of Europe, the US and elsewhere replaced the great 19th‑century venture capitalists. And so we find that nearly all the advances of this period came either from tax-funded universities or from popular movements. The first electronic computers came not from the labs of IBM but from the universities of Manchester and Pennsylvania. (Even the 19th-century analytical engine of Charles Babbage was directly funded by the British government.) The early internet came out of the University of California, not Bell or Xerox. Later on, the world wide web arose not from Apple or Microsoft but from CERN, a wholly public institution. In short, the great advances in medicine, materials, aviation and spaceflight were nearly all pump-primed by public investment. But since the 1970s, an assumption has been made that the private sector is the best place to innovate."

[See also this response from Alan Jacobs: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/105225967233/the-future-of-ambition

"I’m not sure this essay by Michael Hanlon on the lack of technical and scientific progress over the past 40 years adds much to other recent speculations on the same theme: Tyler Cowen’s book The Great Stagnation, talks by Neal Stephenson on our lack of visionary imagination, and so on.

But it’s an indication at least of a growing awareness that, despite the determined efforts of the advertising world to suggest that everything is getting better all the time, our society is stuck in something of a technological rut, especially with regard to travel and, more important, medical care. Flying is a more frustrating experience than it has ever been and is only getting worse; only Google and Elon Musk are even trying to innovate in automobiling; and, as Hanlon points out, a person getting cancer today will receive treatment not fundamentally different than he or she would have received in 1970, and doesn’t stand a much greater chance of beating the disease.

So why aren’t we doing better? Hanlon offers a few fairly vague suggestions, as does Cowen, but this is an inquiry in its early stages. Let me just offer my two cents — precisely two.

Cent number one: Litigiousness. Every technological development in every field, but especially in health care, is hamstrung by the need to perform due diligence, and then beyond-due diligence, and then absurdly-over-the-top diligence, before putting a product on the market lest the developing company be sued by someone unhappy with their results. How many times have you read about some exciting new cancer treatment — and then never hear about it again, as it disappears into the endless Purgatory of tiny clinical trials that dying people beg (usually unsuccessfully) to be allowed to participate in?

Cent number two: Self-soothing by Device. I suspect that few will think that addition to distractive devices could even possibly be related to a cultural lack of ambition, but I genuinely think it’s significant. Truly difficult scientific and technological challenges are almost always surmounted by obsessive people — people who are grabbed by a question that won’t let them go. Such an experience is not comfortable, not pleasant; but it is essential to the perseverance without which no Big Question is ever answered. To judge by the autobiographical accounts of scientific and technological geniuses, there is a real sense in which those Questions force themselves on the people who stand a chance of answering them. But if it is always trivially easy to set the question aside — thanks to a device that you carry with you everywhere you go — can the Question make itself sufficiently present to you that answering is becomes something essential to your well-being? I doubt it." ]
science  technology  progress  michaelhanlon  tylercowen  attention  distraction  litigiousness  law  legal  funding  economics  capitalism  research  society  channge  inequality  innovation  riskaversion  risktaking  risk  medicine  healthcare 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do - The Atlantic
[My tweet: https://twitter.com/rogre/status/512741051941924864 "“Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do” http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/09/why-girls-get-better-grades-than-boys-do/380318/ … Missing: Conscientiousness or deference? Innate or conditioned?"]

"This self-discipline edge for girls carries into middle-school and beyond. In a 2006 landmark study, Martin Seligman and Angela Lee Duckworth found that middle-school girls edge out boys in overall self-discipline. This contributes greatly to their better grades across all subjects. They found that girls are more adept at “reading test instructions before proceeding to the questions,” “paying attention to a teacher rather than daydreaming,” “choosing homework over TV,” and “persisting on long-term assignments despite boredom and frustration.” These top cognitive scientists from the University of Pennsylvania also found that girls are apt to start their homework earlier in the day than boys and spend almost double the amount of time completing it. Girls’ grade point averages across all subjects were higher than those of boys, even in basic and advanced math—which, again, are seen as traditional strongholds of boys.

What Drs. Seligman and Duckworth label “self-discipline,” other researchers name “conscientiousness.” Or, a predisposition to plan ahead, set goals, and persist in the face of frustrations and setbacks. Conscientiousness is uniformly considered by social scientists to be an inborn personality trait that is not evenly distributed across all humans. In fact, a host of cross-cultural studies show that females tend to be more conscientious than males. One such study by Lindsay Reddington out of Columbia University even found that female college students are far more likely than males to jot down detailed notes in class, transcribe what professors say more accurately, and remember lecture content better. Arguably, boys’ less developed conscientiousness leaves them at a disadvantage in school settings where grades heavily weight good organizational skills alongside demonstrations of acquired knowledge.

These days, the whole school experience seems to play right into most girls’ strengths—and most boys’ weaknesses. Gone are the days when you could blow off a series of homework assignments throughout the semester but pull through with a respectable grade by cramming for and acing that all-important mid-term exam. Getting good grades today is far more about keeping up with and producing quality homework—not to mention handing it in on time.

Gwen Kenney-Benson, a psychology professor at Allegheny College, a liberal arts institution in Pennsylvania, says that girls succeed over boys in school because they tend to be more mastery-oriented in their schoolwork habits. They are more apt to plan ahead, set academic goals, and put effort into achieving those goals. They also are more likely than boys to feel intrinsically satisfied with the whole enterprise of organizing their work, and more invested in impressing themselves and their teachers with their efforts.

On the whole, boys approach schoolwork differently. They are more performance-oriented. Studying for and taking tests taps into their competitive instincts. For many boys, tests are quests that get their hearts pounding. Doing well on them is a public demonstration of excellence and an occasion for a high-five. In contrast, Kenney-Benson and some fellow academics provide evidence that the stress many girls experience in test situations can artificially lower their performance, giving a false reading of their true abilities. These researchers arrive at the following overarching conclusion: “The testing situation may underestimate girls’ abilities, but the classroom may underestimate boys’ abilities.”

It is easy to for boys to feel alienated in an environment where homework and organization skills account for so much of their grades. But the educational tide may be turning in small ways that give boys more of a fighting chance. An example of this is what occurred several years ago at Ellis Middle School, in Austin, Minnesota. Teachers realized that a sizable chunk of kids who aced tests trundled along each year getting C’s, D’s, and F’s. At the same time, about 10 percent of the students who consistently obtained A’s and B’s did poorly on important tests. Grading policies were revamped and school officials smartly decided to furnish kids with two separate grades each semester. One grade was given for good work habits and citizenship, which they called a “life skills grade.” A “knowledge grade” was given based on average scores across important tests. Tests could be retaken at any point in the semester, provided a student was up to date on homework.

Staff at Ellis Middle School also stopped factoring homework into a kid’s grade. Homework was framed as practice for tests. Incomplete or tardy assignments were noted but didn’t lower a kid’s knowledge grade. The whole enterprise of severely downgrading kids for such transgressions as occasionally being late to class, blurting out answers, doodling instead of taking notes, having a messy backpack, poking the kid in front, or forgetting to have parents sign a permission slip for a class trip, was revamped.

This last point was of particular interest to me. On countless occasions, I have attended school meetings for boy clients of mine who are in an ADHD red-zone. I have learned to request a grade print-out in advance. Not uncommonly, there is a checkered history of radically different grades: A, A, A, B, B, F, F, A. When F grades and a resultant zero points are given for late or missing assignments, a student’s C grade does not reflect his academic performance. Since boys tend to be less conscientious than girls—more apt to space out and leave a completed assignment at home, more likely to fail to turn the page and complete the questions on the back—a distinct fairness issue comes into play when a boy’s occasional lapse results in a low grade. Sadly though, it appears that the overwhelming trend among teachers is to assign zero points for late work. In one survey by Conni Campbell, associate dean of the School of Education at Point Loma Nazarene University, 84 percent of teachers did just that.

Disaffected boys may also benefit from a boot camp on test-taking, time-management, and study habits. These core skills are not always picked up by osmosis in the classroom, or from diligent parents at home. Of course, addressing the learning gap between boys and girls will require parents, teachers and school administrators to talk more openly about the ways each gender approaches classroom learning—and that difference itself remains a tender topic."
gender  schools  boys  girls  education  homework  compliance  conscienciousness  angeladuckworth  2014  martinseligman  deference  authority  self-discipline  adhd  grades  grading  gwenkenney-benson  conditioning  goalsetting  persistence  lindsayreddington  connicampbell  disaffection  testtaking  timemanagement  studyhabits  learninggap  attention  distraction  academics  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  gendernorms  society  enricognaulati  assessment  standardization 
september 2014 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses - This Google Doodle of a Brazilian favela was...
"Few things are more tiresome to me than the educated Left’s ceaseless policing of the symbolic/discursive realm (e.g., politically incorrect Google Doodles), in what might charitably be described as the naive belief that consciousness-raising promotes justice, which by now we ought to know it doesn’t. Those of us who have been trained to manipulate symbols and language tend to overrate their importance, but at this point in history there’s no excuse for such overrating.

On a less charitable reading, people like policing symbols and discourses because you can do it from your computer without ever lifting a finger, or paying a cent, to alter the structural injustice that perpetuates the favelas. Signaling your outrage on Twitter does absolutely nothing to help anybody. Getting Google to take down their Doodle is a pathetic parody of a moral victory.

Meanwhile the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer. Families and communities around the world are under assault by malicious forces. The favelas in Brazil receive no relief, and children keep getting shot in Chicago, and Wall Street (i.e., international capitalism) proceeds from strength to strength in sublime indifference to it all. If we’re going to choke on our own outrage, there are plenty of reasons. Google Doodles are not among them."
susbstance  2014  alanjacobs  whatmatters  distraction  whininess  justice  socialjustice  avoidance  heavylifting  outrage  importance  signaling 
june 2014 by robertogreco
bikeshedding - Wiktionary
"bikeshed +‎ -ing. The term was coined as a metaphor to illuminate Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. Parkinson observed that a committee whose job is to approve plans for a nuclear power plant may spend the majority of its time on relatively unimportant but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bikeshed, while neglecting the design of the power plant itself, which is far more important but also far more difficult to criticize constructively. It was popularized in the Berkeley Software Distribution community by Poul Henning-Kamp[1] and has spread from there to the software industry at large."

[via: @dancohen @ayjay The whole tech industry (culture?) is bike-shedding. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bikeshedding
https://twitter.com/fchimero/status/479753021606227970

in response to
"@ayjay well, you can either try to solve the enormous complexity of modeling the Earth’s climate, or you can make an app that says “Yo”"
https://twitter.com/dancohen/status/479744525619826688 ]
words  distraction  bikeshedding  avoidance  triviality 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The education question we should be asking
"Now if you regularly read education studies, you won’t be surprised to learn that the authors of this one never questioned, or even bothered to defend, the value of the science lessons they used — whether they were developmentally appropriate or presented effectively, whether they involved anything more than reading a list of facts or were likely to hold any interest for 5-year-olds.  Nor did the researchers vouch for the quality of the assessment.  Whatever raises kids’ scores (on any test, and of any material) was simply assumed to be a good thing, and anything that lowers scores is bad.

Hence the authors’ concern that children tend to be “distracted by the visual environment.”  (Translation:  They may attend to something in the room other than the facts an adult decided to transmit to them.)  And hence my friend’s wry reductio ad absurdum response.

Alas, “sparse” classrooms had their own problems. There, we’re told, children “were more likely to be distracted by themselves or by peers.”  Even if we strip everything off the walls, those pesky kids will still engage in instructionally useless behaviors like interacting with one another or thinking about things that interest them.  The researchers referred to the latter (thinking) as being “distracted by themselves.”  Mark that phrase as the latest illustration of the principle that, in the field of education, satire has become obsolete.

 Our attention seems to be fixed relentlessly on the means by which to get students to accomplish something.  We remain undistracted by anything to do with ends — what it is they’re supposed to accomplish, and whether it’s really valuable.  Perhaps that’s why schools of education typically require “methods” classes but not goals classes.  In the latter, students might be invited to read this study and ask whether a child could reasonably regard the lesson as a distraction (from her desire to think, talk, or look at a cool drawing on the wall).  Other students might object on the grounds that it’s a teacher’s job to decide what students ought to do and to maximize their “time on task.”  But such conversations — Time on what task?  Why is it being taught?  Who gets to decide? — are shut down before they begin when all we talk about (in ed. schools, in journals, in professional development sessions) is how to maximize time on whatever is assigned.[2]"
alfiekohn  attention  curriculum  distraction  learning  children  thewhy  2014  instruction  schools  education  edreform 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The internet isn't harming our love of 'deep reading', it's cultivating it | Steven Poole | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"In our culture of excitable neuroscientism a lot of such arguments employ the sexy word "brain" and so sound scientifically objective, but they are really socio-cultural arguments. No doubt there are many kinds of task-specific neural developments (ie "brain" types) that have been lost in the mists of evolutionary time, and whose absence we have no reason to regret. Not many people in advanced industrial societies today, for example, grow up developing the mental skills required to kill tasty large mammals with a well-hurled spear. But we don't read hand-wringing stories about how we have lost the antelope-hunting brain. So there needs to be a further demonstration that the "deep-reading brain" is something worth valuing. And this is never going to be a (neuro)scientific argument; it's a cultural argument."



"And yet the assumption in such doomy pronouncements that we might all be slaves to skimming and thus be allowing our brains to atrophy sounds fantastically condescending, just as it did when expressed in Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows. This kind of paternalistic fatalism seems ably refuted by sales of Young Adult blockbusters, as well as by researchers who bother to find out what young people actually do.

According to John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital, for example, a teenager's "news-gathering process" alternated skimming or "grazing" with a "deep dive" when she found something she could really get her teeth into.

And such nutritious, dense, lengthy pieces of writing are, of course, becoming ever more popular on the very same internet that pessimists blame for destroying our attention spans. More and more online magazine startups are devoted to in-depth reportage or cheerfully non-topical discussions of ideas over many thousands of beautifully typeset words. Ideal, you might even say, for slow reading.

For me, the only fly in the ointment is my insuperable allergy to the kitschy, infantilising generic term for such pieces, "long reads". (We don't call albums "long listens" or epic dinners "long eats".) The alternative, "longform", is simply oxymoronic – sheer length is not a form. What was wrong with "essays" again? Presumably the old-school littérateurs of the Slow Reading Movement could approve of that one."
reading  neuroscience  society  culture  attention  2014  stevenpoole  slowreading  distraction  nicholascarr  longreads  howweread  listening  grazing  johnpalfrey  ursgasser  skimming 
april 2014 by robertogreco
The Open-Office Trap : The New Yorker
"The open office was originally conceived by a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the nineteen-fifties, to facilitate communication and idea flow. But a growing body of evidence suggests that the open office undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve. In June, 1997, a large oil and gas company in western Canada asked a group of psychologists at the University of Calgary to monitor workers as they transitioned from a traditional office arrangement to an open one. The psychologists assessed the employees’ satisfaction with their surroundings, as well as their stress level, job performance, and interpersonal relationships before the transition, four weeks after the transition, and, finally, six months afterward. The employees suffered according to every measure: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and, instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity fell.

In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation. When David Craig surveyed some thirty-eight thousand workers, he found that interruptions by colleagues were detrimental to productivity, and that the more senior the employee, the worse she fared."
business  environment  productivity  work  2014  officedesign  openoffices  openclassrooms  noise  matthewdavis  privacy  quiet  psychology  nickperham  garyevans  danajohnson  heidirasila  peggierothe  alenamaher  courtneyvonhippel  distraction  attention  multitasking  anthonywagner  schooldesign 
january 2014 by robertogreco
STET | Attention, rhythm & weight
"For better or worse, we live in a world of media invention. Instead of reusing a stable of forms over and over, it’s not much harder for us to create new ones. Our inventions make it possible to explore the secret shape of our subject material, to coax it into saying more.

These new forms won’t follow the rules of the scroll, the codex, or anything else that came before, but we can certainly learn from them. We can ask questions from a wide range of influences — film, animation, video games, and more. We can harvest what’s still ripe today, and break new ground when necessary.

Let’s begin."

[See also: http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/10/books-in-browsers-iv-why-we-should-not-imitate-snowfall/ and video of Allen's talk at Books in Browsers 2013 (Day 2 Session 1) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/40164570 ]
allentan  publishing  writing  internet  web  timcarmody  2013  papermodernism  literacy  fluency  intuitiveness  legibility  metaphor  interaction  howweread  howwewrite  communication  multiliteracies  skills  touch  scrolling  snowfall  immersive  focus  distraction  attention  cinema  cinematic  film  flickr  usability  information  historiasextraordinarias  narrative  storytelling  jose-luismoctezuma  text  reading  multimedia  rhythm  pacing  purpose  weight  animation  gamedesign  design  games  gaming  mediainvention  media 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Internet: A Welcome Distraction - NYTimes.com
"I work via slow accretions of often seemingly unrelated stuff. When I complete that unwieldy, puzzling first draft, I spread it out on the desk like a soothsayer viewing entrails, and try to find patterns. If asked, I might pretty up my process and call it bricolage or intellectual scrapbooking, but it really is merely the result of a magpie mind/brain, one that flits from one shiny thing to another. While I still work in my plodding way, the ever renewing bits of information in my Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds provide endless fodder, like going shell collecting on the beach on a normal day versus the day after a hurricane when the ocean has burped up every interesting bit of stuff imaginable.

What keeps my writing process slow is not the Web, but the need to spend so much time circling a scene or a character, trying to get it in a form that reflects what I see in my mind. The payoff often comes when some trifle — say, an article on Inuit recipes for fermented salmon heads — that I’ve clicked on for no discernible reason, can years later  become the perfect thing for a character musing on his long-ago romantic summer job in a cannery in Alaska. And while I still have epiphanic moments while staring out my window like a proper author, or am inspired by a long article in the New York Review of Books, I am just as often prompted by a random bit I’ve gleaned on a friend’s Twitter feed as it speeds by, or the latest ha-ha list from BuzzFeed.

It became my guilty secret that a foray into Wikipedia, Gawker, Twitter and even eBay (an absolute font of consumer and postconsumer culture) could set my mind rolling. Seemingly unrelated bits, like what looks like random bumps on a player-piano roll, would, when put in the right part of my brain, create actual music."



"Especially in this technical age, the tools a writer has to work with change almost daily — today the Internet, tomorrow nanobot implants for the brain. But I believe the process stays essentially the same. William Gibson suggests that in order to produce one’s most creative work, writers need to learn to cultivate their “personal micro culture,” an acquired sense of what feels right to the artist, rather than an emulation of others’ work. So while many writers I admire practice Internet abstinence, I accept that my nature is more restless and creatively promiscuous. I was, therefore, delighted to learn that my salmon-head-fermenting friends the Inuits call the “Internet,” ikiaqqivik, which in Inuktitut means, roughly, “traveling through layers,” a word they use to describe what their shamans do in finding answers.

Henry James thought George Eliot, with her sharp eye for the twisty hierarchies of social manners, was one of the best British writers of her time, but he criticized her for what he thought were the overlapping, excessive, and broken plots in “Middlemarch.” I think she would have loved Facebook."
mariemyung-oklee  2013  attention  writing  twitter  facebiook  socialnetworking  internet  distraction  accretion  howwewrite 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Aesthetics of Dispersed Attention: Interview with German Media Theorist Petra Löffler :: net critique by Geert Lovink
"GL: You got a fascinating chapter in your habilitation about early cinema and the scattering of attention it would be responsible for. The figure of the nosy parker that gawks interests you and you contrast it to the street roaming flaneur.

PL: Yes, the gawker is a fascinating figure, because according to my research results it is the corporation of the modern spectator who is also a member of a mass audience––the flaneur never was part of it. The gawker or gazer, like the flaneur, appeared at first in the modern metropolis with its multi-sensorial sensations and attractions. According to Walter Benjamin the flaneur disappeared at the moment, when the famous passages were broken down. They had to make room for greater boulevards that were able to steer the advanced traffic in the French metropolis. Always being part of the mass of passers-by the gawker looks at the same time for diversions, for accidents and incidents in the streets. This is to say his attention is always distracted between an awareness of what happens on the streets and navigating between people and vehicles. No wonder movie theatres were often opened at locations with a high level of traffic inviting passers-by to go inside and, for a certain period of time, becoming part of an audience. Furthermore many films of the period of Early Cinema were actualities showing the modern city-life. In these films the movie-camera was positioned at busy streets or corners in order to record movements of human and non-human agents. Gawkers often went into the view of the camera gesticulating or grimacing in front of it. That’s why the gawker has become a very popular figure mirroring the modern mass audience on the screen.

Today to view one’s own face on a screen is an everyday experience. Not only CCTV-cameras at public spaces record passers-by, often without their notice. Also popular TV-shows that require life-participation such as casting shows once more offer members of the audience the opportunity to see themselves on a screen. At the same time many people post their portraits on websites of social networks. They want to be seen by others because they want to be part of a greater audience––the network community. This is what Jean Baudrillard has called connectivity. The alliance between the drive to see and to being seen establishes a new order of seeing which differs significantly from Foucault’s panoptical vision: Today no more the few see the many (panopticon) or the many see the few (popular stars)––today, because of the multiplication and connectivity of screens in public and private spaces, the many see the many. Insofar, one can conclude, the gawker or gazer is an overall-phenomenon, a non-specific subjectivity of a distributed publicity."



"GL: I can imagine that debates during the rise of mass education, the invention of film are different from ours. But is that the case? It is all pedagogy, so it seems. We never seem to leave the classroom.

PL: The question is, leaving where? Entering the other side (likewise amusement sites or absorbing fantasies)? Why not? Changing perspectives? Yes, that’s what we have to do. But for that purpose we don’t have to leave the classroom necessarily. Rather, we should rebuilt it as a room of testing modes of thinking in very concrete ways. I’m thinking of Jacques Rancière’s suggestions, in his essay Le partage du sensible, about the power relation between teachers and pupils. Maybe today teachers can learn more (for instance soft skills) from their pupils than the other way around. We need other regimes of distribution of power, also in the classroom, a differentiation of tasks, of velocities and singularities—in short: we need micropolitics.

More seriously, your question indicates a strong relationship between pedagogy and media. There’s a reason why media theorists like Friedrich Kittler had pointed to media’s affinity to propaganda and institutions of power. I think of his important book Discourse Networks, where he has revealed the relevance of mediated writing techniques for the formation of educational institutions and for subjectivation. That’s why the question is, what are the tasks we have to learn in order to exist in the world of electronic mass media? What means ‘Bildung’ for us nowadays?

GL: There is an ‘attention war’ going on, with debates across traditional print and broadcast media about the rise in distraction, in schools, at home. On the street we see people hooked on their smart phones, multitasking, everywhere they go. What do you make of this? This is just a heightened sensibility, a fashion, or is there really something at stake? Would you classify it as petit-bourgeois anxieties? Loss of attention as a metaphor for threatening poverty and status loss of the traditional middle class in the West? How do you read the use of brain research by Nicholas Carr, Frank Schirrmacher and more recently also the German psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer who came up with a few bold statement concerning the devastating consequences of computer use for the (young) human brain. Having read your study one could say: don’t worry, nothing new under the sun. But is this the right answer?

PL: Your description addresses severe debates. Nothing less than the future of our Western culture seems to be at stake. Institutions like the educational systems are under permanent critique, concerning all levels from primary schools to universities. That’s why the Pisa studies have revealed a lot of deficits and have provoked debates on what kind of education is necessary for our children. On the one hand it’s a debate on cultural values, but on the other it’s a struggle on power relations. We are living in a society of control, and how to become a subject and how this subject is related to other subjects in mediated environments are important questions.

A great uncertainty is emerged. That’s why formulas that promise easy solutions are highly welcomed. Neurological concepts are often based on one-sided models concerning the relationship between body and mind, and they often leave out the role of social and environmental factors. From historians of science such as Canguilhem and Foucault one can learn that psychiatrist models of brain defects and mental anomalies not only mirror social anxieties, but also produce knowledge about what is defined as normal. And it is up to us as observers of such discourses to name those anxieties today. Nonetheless, I would not signify distraction as a metaphor. It is in fact a concrete phase of the body, a state of the mind. It’s real. You cannot deal with it when you call it a disability or a disease and just pop pills or switch off your electronic devices."
via:litherland  attention  distraction  2013  petralöffer  geertlovink  walterbenjamin  flaneur  gawkers  cities  internet  audience  diaphanesverlag  montaigne  albertkümmel  siegfriedkracauer  frankfurterschule  kant  tibot  psychology  daydreaming  media  mediaarchaeology  richardshusterman  film  micropolitics  friederichkittler  education  subjectivation  massmedia  bildung  nicholascarr  sherryturkle  frankschirrmacher  culture  values  culturalvalues  brain  bernardstiegler  socialmedia  marketing  entertainment  propaganda  deepreading  petersloterdijk  mindfulness  self-control  mediatheory  theory  theodoradorno  weimar  history  philosophy  reading  writing  data  perception  siegfriedzielinski  wolfgangernst  bernhardsiegert  erhardschüttpelz  francoberardi  andrewkeen  jaronlanier  howardrheingold  foucault  micheldemontaigne  michelfoucault 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Why Common Core Standards Will Succeed | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
"Reform-minded policy elites–top federal and state officials, business leaders, and their entourages with unlimited access to media (e.g., television, websites, print journalism)–use these talking points to engage the emotions and, of course, spotlight public schools as the reasons why the U.S. is not as globally competitive as it should be. By focusing on the Common Core, charter schools, and evaluating teachers on the basis of student test scores, these decision-makers have shifted public attention away from fiscal and tax policies and economic structures that not only deepen and sustain poverty in society but also reinforce privilege of the top two percent of wealthy Americans. Policy elites have banged away unrelentingly at public schools as the source of national woes for decades.

National, state, and local opinion-makers in the business of school reform know that what matters is not evidence, not research studies, not past experiences with similar reforms–what matters is the appearance of success. Success is 45 states adopting standards, national tests taken by millions of students, and public acceptance of Common Core. Projecting positive images (e.g., the film Waiting for Superman, “everyone goes to college”) and pushing myths (e.g., U.S schools are broken, schools are an arm of the economy) that is what counts in the theater of school reform.

Within a few years–say, by 2016, a presidential election year–policy elites will declare the new standards a “success” and, hold onto your hats, introduce more and better and standards and tests.

This happened before with minimum competency tests in the 1970s. By 1980, thirty-seven states had mandated these tests for grade-to-grade promotion and high school graduation. The Nation at Risk report (1983) judged these tests too easy since most students passed them. So goodbye to competency tests. That happened again in the 1990s with the launching of upgraded state curriculum standards (e.g., Massachusetts) and then NCLB and later Common Core came along. It is happening now and will happen again.

Policy elites see school reform as a form of theater. Blaming schools for serious national problems, saying the right emotionally-loaded words, and giving the appearance of doing mighty things to solve the “school” problem matter far more than hard evidence or past experiences with similar reforms."
larrycuban  policy  edreform  commoncore  politics  businessasusual  standards  2013  success  theater  blame  schools  publicschools  poverty  inequality  economics  distraction 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Interrupt the program — Medium
"Spoiler alert: I am about to tell you what to do.

1. Talk to a stranger

It’s simple, and harmless, and generous, a beautiful interruption. You can do it without even slowing down your pace. Catch someone’s eye, smile in passing, say “have a good day,” or “how’re you doing.” These are mundane utterances that are also deeply profound. They say to someone: I see you there, we are both people walking down this street or through this lobby, we are both real and it’s worth a nod to that. If you are still smiling for two seconds after you pass by, you are doing this right. You have created a moment of street intimacy.

2. Fall down a rabbit hole

Ignore the kerfuffle about what the internet is doing to your attention span. There are kinds of distraction that are deeply focused. There are many clicks involved in this. Someone, somewhere on your internet has posted something that intrigues you, that you want to know more about. Read it, watch it, wonder about it. What questions does it leave you with? Dig deeper into it. Or, what does it remind you of? Follow unexpected tangents. You are not scattered, you are on a quest. You are looking for answers. If what you find are more questions, you are doing this right. You have been distracted from what you were doing when you started all this. You have been curious.

3. Do nothing

Sit by yourself somewhere in public for 7 minutes without looking at your phone. It has to be somewhere without a TV. Neither of these are bad, I like them too. Do it anyway. This may make you uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Unless you choose to sleep, you will find that you are forced to look at something. What is it? Are you reading signs or looking at things in store windows? Are you looking at other people? Are you looking at trees? Water? Sand? Cement? If you start talking to yourself in your head, you are doing this right. I should have said at the beginning, take a pen in case you want to write something down. You can write on your hand, it’ll wash off. You have been awake."
kiostark  strangers  2013  intimacy  conversation  idleness  stillness  distraction  internet  attention  focus  depth  messiness  curiosity  advice  solitude  awakeness  slow  time  noticing  mindfulness  observation  engagement  people  life  living  interruption 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Quiet Ones - NYTimes.com
"In his recent treatise on this subject (its title regrettably unprintable here), the philosopher Aaron James posits that people with this personality type are so infuriating — even when the inconvenience they cause us is negligible — because they refuse to recognize the moral reality of those around them. (James’s thesis that this obliviousness correlates to a sense of special entitlement is corroborated by my own observation that the crowd on Amtrak, where airline-level fares act as a de facto class barrier, is generally louder and more inconsiderate than the supposed riffraff on the bus.) It’s a pathology that seems increasingly common, I suspect in part because people now spend so much time in the solipsist’s paradise of the Internet that they carry its illusion of invisible (and inaudible) omniscience back with them out into the real world."

"It’s impossible to be heard when your whole position is quiet now that all public discourse has become a shouting match."
publicspaces  sharedspace  consideration  society  attention  davidfosterwallace  listening  distraction  2012  trains  noise  etiquette  publicspace  amtrak  quietcar  slow  quiet  timkreider  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Robin Sloan's Low-Tech Triumph | Mother Jones
"You can go as far back as fifth grade and you will find me tinkering with media and computers, making things that are a little off the beaten track. It's not just a book report or a video game. It's like some weird combination, and for like 20 years they didn't quite work."

"I have a couple best friends, one of whom is very much the template for Neel because we became friends over our shared interest in a series of books about dragons. But we used to try to play Dungeons & Dragons all the time, and it turns out it's much better on paper than it is in reality. We would get together in one of our basements and lovingly craft these characters and figure out what they were carrying and what spells they had. But that would take three hours and I don't know if we ever finished a game."

"In some ways I grew up in the public library in Troy, Michigan."

"Festina lente should totally be a model for our age."

"I don't know, you just feel like even the Muppets could work at Google."
future  festinalente  history  distraction  freedom  twitter  siliconvalley  muppets  google  maddieoatman  interviews  robinsloan  internet  books  mrpenumbra  penumbra  2012  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
One on One: Robin Sloan, Author and 'Media Inventor' - NYTimes.com
"Q. In your book you talk about content overload. How do we solve that?

A. The problem is, all of this content is good. The vision of the Internet as a vast digital wasteland isn’t correct. Everything is awesome and we have more stuff to read than we ever have in history. I think part of the answer comes with devices and interfaces: we need to create more devices without distractions, like Kindles.

…A. I think there is a tradeoff inherent in contemporary references. The cost is that the book becomes dated very quickly. The benefit is that people reading it right now feel a dizzying present.

"Q. So I notice you have an old Nokia phone. Why?
A. I realized that for me, the iPhone had gone beyond just being a habit. I decided that with the job I have now, which is a full-time writer, it’s actually more important and more productive for me to be daydreaming and jotting down notes than it is for me to e-mail or read all my tweets."
distraction  writing  focus  reading  attention  mrpenumbra  penumbra  nickbilton  interviews  kindle  infooverload  dumbphones  books  technology  robinsloan  2012  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
Lonely, but united: Sherry Turkle and Steven Johnson on technology's pain and promise | The Verge
"As the authors were offering their final points at the end of the Q&A;, Johnson hit on a metaphor that, for once, everyone could agree on: the city.

The city, like the internet, is noisy, distracting, overwhelming, and potentially isolating. But people choose the city for its stimulus and connection, says Johnson, "and for me technology is like that: I know the cost, but I choose it."

Turkle jotted down the metaphor on her notepad before responding:

"The best artists learned to find solitude in the middle of the metropolitan space," she said. And "we need to learn to find solitude in the technological space.""
paulmiller  etiquette  attention  tradeoffs  connection  stimulus  boredom  distraction  internet  cities  2012  stevenjohnson  sherryturkle  from delicious
october 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
Pendulums, Tea, and Jack Cheng | One Skinnyj
"I wanted the lack of employment & stable income to motivate me to do something."

"…balance implies movement. A more appropriate instrument would be a pendulum—constantly swinging back & forth. W/ a scale, stasis is desirable, but w/ a pendulum, stasis is death."

"We have a limited supply of attention every day & thus a sweet spot for novel experiences. Too little novelty & you’re bored. Too much & you’re overwhelmed. But with the right amount, you’re learning & growing."

"The right team to me consists of a group of people who are simultaneously mentor & mentee, skilled at certain things & eager to learn about others."

"I love learning new things, & I’m continually improving myself. I feel like I’m experiencing the world closer to the way I did when I was a kid, the result of unlearning some…biases & tendencies…"

"I’m a big proponent of journaling…it builds self-awareness, which is always the first step to improvement…Honest journaling helps you face your own fear & neglect."
memberly  motivation  howwegrow  howwelearn  entrepreneurship  distrupto  employment  attention  distraction  newness  travel  yearoff  stasis  growing  growth  learning  unlearning  tendencies  biases  self-improvement  neglect  fear  self-awareness  noticing  novelty  howwework  working  groups  mentees  mentors  movement  balance  pendulums  stability  chaos  reflection  journals  journaling  2011  interviews  seepster  tea  jackcheng 
july 2012 by robertogreco
It is a generational thing, of course. The worst... - more than 95 theses
“It is a generational thing, of course. The worst offenders are teenagers – in terms of the group who are the most distracted because this is the generation who never knew life when it was “real”. They live in the continuous future. They have no experience of subtlety, nuance or considered responses – only of instant, illiterate and ill-considered ones. The gratification teens crave is not the warm smile of affection or the approving comment from another human, but the sense of achievement they gain from electronic validation. Emails, texts and updates pinging in reassure them they are alive and popular and abreast of rolling social news.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/9399954/Heres-how-to-outwit-the-smartphones.html

"So true. I remember what it was like back in my day: we teenagers then were masters of subtlety and nuance, and we considered every response most carefully. What a falling-off there has been to the little monsters that surround us now…"
offmydamnlawn  generations  generationalstrife  manners  etiquette  distraction  cellphones  mobilephones  2012  adolescents  teens  digitaldualism  alanjacobs  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
The distractions of social media, 1673 style | tomstandage.com
Enthusiasm for coffeehouses was not universal, however, and some observers regarded them as a worrying development. They grumbled that Christians had taken to a Muslim drink instead of traditional English beer, and fretted that the livelihoods of tavern-keepers might be threatened. But most of all they lamented that coffeehouses were distracting people who ought to be doing useful work, rather than networking and sharing trivia with their acquaintances.
history  internet  distraction  attention  coffeehouses  conversation  social  socialnetworks  2012 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Long-Term Temporal Stability of Measured Inattention and Impulsivity in Typical and Referred Children
"children are no more or less inattentive and impulsive today than in 1983, suggesting that inattention and impulsivity are stable neurobiological traits largely unaffected by cultural, educational, and environmental factors"
attention  distraction  children  2012  research  via:Preoccupations 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Workplace experiments: A month to yourself - (37signals)
"Some companies are famous for their 20% time where employees get 1/5th of their time to work on their own projects. In spirit I like this idea, but usually it’s executed by carving out a day here or a day there – or every Friday, for example – to work on your own projects.

But all time isn’t equal. I’d take 5 days in a row over 5 days spread out over 5 weeks. So our theory is that we’ll see better results when people have a long stretch of uninterrupted time. A month includes time to think, not just time to squeeze in some personal work around the edges."
uninterruptedtime  timeoff  creativity  attention  howwework  howwecreate  glvo  startups  rework  sabbatical  makerstime  interruption  interruptions  2012  yearoff2  yearoff  distraction  time  google20%  makertime  makersschedule  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
A New, Noisier Way of Writing - NYTimes.com [Definitely not an OR, but and AND. Room for mix, room for both.]
"This opening up of the process may fit the zeitgeist, but it terrifies many writers. Yet is Mr. Coelho right? Must the writer, like corporations & governments everywhere, accept a fundamental shift in what is kept open & what kept closed?

Some serious writers show a way forward. Teju Cole…is an avid user of Twitter, using it not to expound on the Super Bowl, but to remix and rewrite Nigerian headlines in a deft, literary way. Salman Rushdie, a defender of Writing with a capital W, has found a way to balance that literary seriousness with new habits of launching tweet-wars, informing us where he is, and reviewing books in 140 characters, always with his trademark wit.

The question, perhaps, is this: As the writer surrenders to these new possibilities, what will be her role in the instantaneous, feedback-driven, open world? Will there be a place for those other, slower thoughts, ideas that take time and quiet to flower, truths that cannot be crowdsourced?"
slow  concentration  online  web  entrepreneurship  meritocracy  wikipedia  isolation  attention  anandgiridharadas  vsnaipaul  jonathanfranzen  salmanrushdie  waltwhitman  leavesofgrass  twitter  crowdsourcing  distraction  writing  2012  paulocoelho  tejucole  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Taming the Wandering Mind | The Moral Sciences Club | Big Think
"Reconciling oneself to the fact that projects "take the time they take" can be a necessary step in finishing projects at all. My mind is not simply prone to distraction, it is prone to rebellion. The wrong kind of pressure makes it resist its own commands, sends it spinning out of its own control. Bearing down, reining in, whipping harder doesn't get "me" back on track so much as set me against myself in a showdown I always lose winning. Better to just glide on the thermal of whim until the destination once again comes into sight and a smooth approach becomes finally possible.

Not to say that one can drift one's way to success. Aims must be fixed and kept in mind, even if one knows it's worse than useless to charge right at them. One must develop a sense of one's attention as one develops a sense of a powerful but skittish horse, calmly riding wide of known dangers…

We need to reconcile ourselves to our own temperaments, stop trying to fight or drug ourselves into submission…"
medicine  drugs  howwework  howwewrite  allsorts  productivity  focus  willpower  self-mastery  self-improvement  self-accommodation  gtd  effort  adhd  2012  hanifkureishi  attention  distraction  willwilkinson  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Art of Distraction - NYTimes.com
"Biological determinism is one of psychology’s ugliest evasions, removing the poetic human from any issue."

"As we as a society become desperate financially, and more regulated and conformist, our ideals of competence become more misleading and cruel, making people feel like losers. There might be more to our distractions than we realized we knew. We might need to be irresponsible. But to follow a distraction requires independence and disobedience; there will be anxiety in not completing something, in looking away, or in not looking where others prefer you to. This may be why most art is either collaborative — the cinema, pop, theater, opera — or is made by individual artists supporting one another in various forms of loose arrangement, where people might find the solidarity and backing they need."
anxiety  conformism  confomity  medication  medicine  ritalin  psychology  frustration  boredom  humiliation  diversity  human  labels  labeling  education  schools  attention  winners  losers  winnersandlosers  stigma  society  2012  hanifkureishi  dyslexia  adhd  learning  distraction 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Twitter / @millsbaker: Information is ineffectual ...
"Information is ineffectual; news of all sorts is noise. Focus, attention, discretion: these are radical."
2012  discretion  distraction  millsbaker  attention  focus  noise  news  information  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
School ADD Isn’t Homeschool ADD | Laura Grace Weldon
Homeschooling didn’t “fix” anything for my son, at least right away. I made many of the mistakes I teachers made with him…

Yet every time I stepped back, allowing him to pursue his own interests he picked up complicated concepts beautifully…

The more I stepped back, the more I saw how much my son accomplished when fueled by his own curiosity…

Gradually I recognized that he learned in a complex, deeply focused and yes, apparently disorganized manner…Sometimes his intense interests fueled busy days. Sometimes it seemed he did very little— those were times that richer wells of understanding developed…

His greatest surprise in college has been how disinterested his fellow students are in learning…

My son taught me that distractible, messy, disorganized children are perfectly suited to learn in their own way. It was my mistake to keep him in school as long as we did. I’m glad we finally walked away from those doors to enjoy free range learning."
curiosity  howwelearn  children  toshare  tcsnmy  adhd  add  distraction  learning  parenting  deschooling  unschooling  education  edg  srg  glvo  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Rise of the New Groupthink - NYTimes.com
"But even if the problems are different, human nature remains the same. And most humans have two contradictory impulses: we love and need one another, yet we crave privacy and autonomy.

To harness the energy that fuels both these drives, we need to move beyond the New Groupthink and embrace a more nuanced approach to creativity and learning. Our offices should encourage casual, cafe-style interactions, but allow people to disappear into personalized, private spaces when they want to be alone. Our schools should teach children to work with others, but also to work on their own for sustained periods of time. And we must recognize that introverts like Steve Wozniak need extra quiet and privacy to do their best work."
committees  susancain  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  online  web  internet  communication  proust  efficiency  howwelearn  learning  interruption  freedom  privacy  schooldesign  lcproject  officedesign  tranquility  distraction  meetings  thinking  quiet  brainstorming  teamwork  introverts  stevewozniak  innovation  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  flow  cv  collaboration  howwework  groupthink  solitude  productivity  creativity  marcelproust 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The New Value of Text | booktwo.org
"Text lasts. It’s not platform-dependant, you don’t just get it from one source, read it in one place, understand it in one way. It is not dependent on technology: it is what we make technology out of. Code is text, it is the fundamental nature of technology. We’ve been trying for decades, since the advent of hypertext fiction, of media-rich CD-ROMs, to enhance the experience of literature with multimedia. And it has failed, every time.

Yet we are terrified that in the digital age, people are constantly distracted. That they’re shallower, lazier, more dazzled. If they are, then the text is not speaking clearly enough. We are not speaking clearly enough. Like over-stuffed attendees at a dull banquet, the mind wanders. We are terrified that people are dumbing down, and so we provide them with ever dumber entertainment. We sell them ever greater distractions, hoping to dazzle them further."
reading  writing  distraction  text  books  jamesbridle  publishing  content  technology  2011  bookfuturism  multimedia  fear  efficiency  storytelling  complexity  simplicity  digitaltext  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Why I quit my job: « Kai Nagata ["Until Thursday, I was CTV’s Quebec City Bureau Chief, based at the National Assembly, mostly covering politics."]
"I’m trying to think of the reporters I know who would do their job as volunteers…people who feel so strongly about importance & social value of the evening news that, were they were offered somewhere to sleep, three meals a day, & free dry-cleaning – they would do that for the rest of their days…such zeal is scarce.

Aside from feeling sexually attracted to the people on screen, the target viewer, according to consultants, is also supposed to like easy stories that reinforce beliefs they already hold…

I have serious problems w/ direction taken by Canadian policy & politics in last 5 years. But as a reporter, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath…

“I thought if I paid my dues & worked my way up through ranks, I could maybe reach a position of enough influence & credibility that I could say what I truly feel. I’ve realized there’s no time to wait…

I’m broke, & yet I know I’m rich in love. I’m unemployed & homeless, but I’ve never been more free.

Everything is possible.”
politics  media  journalism  tv  ctv  cbc  canada  policy  kainagata  2011  neo-nomads  nomadism  meaning  purpose  meaningfulness  via:jeeves  truth  viewers  junktv  news  reporting  environment  superficiality  junknews  distraction  integrity  credibility  influence  yearoff  bias  nomads  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
The New Atlantis » The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
"Alan Jacobs…The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction…argues that, contrary to doomsayers, reading is alive & well in America. His interactions w/ students & readers of his own books, however, suggest that many readers lack confidence; they wonder whether they are reading well, w/ proper focus & attentiveness, w/ due discretion & discernment. Many have absorbed the puritanical message that reading is, first & foremost, good for you—intellectual equivalent of eating Brussels sprouts.

For such people, indeed for all readers, Jacobs offers some simple, powerful, & much needed advice: read at whim, read what gives you delight, & do so w/out shame, whether it be Stephen King or King James Bible. Jacobs offers an insightful, accessible, & playfully irreverent guide for aspiring readers. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of approaching literary fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, & the book explores everything from invention of silent reading…"
literature  reading  distraction  alanjacobs  2011  classideas  elitism  engagement  pleasure  guilt  obligation  virtue  teaching  books  motorresponse  kindle  attention  ebooks  twitching  fidgeting  concentration  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Flavorwire » In Praise of “Boring” Films
"“Long movies,” Dargis writes, “take time away even as they restore a sense of duration, of time and life passing, that most movies try to obscure through continuity editing. Faced with duration not distraction, your mind may wander, but there’s no need for panic: it will come back. In wandering there can be revelation as you meditate, trance out, bliss out, luxuriate in your thoughts, think.”"
boredom  boring  boringness  film  via:rushtheiceberg  towatch  lists  slow  distraction  wanderingmind  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction - storify.com
"Q: how does reading fiction help you become a nonfiction writer? A: I'm a southerner, started school early (and tiny): I'm a storyteller."

"I talked with Alan about this afterwards, and we both agreed that the structure of reading-as-morally-virtuous vs reading-as-guilty-pleasure has metastasized to virtually every kind of media: newspapers, movies, television. We all want to be reading and watching the right things, the best things, and can be the subject of shame when we're not. It's a structure."

"Q: What about audiobooks? What is reading? A: We're rooted in storytelling, but for me, it's rooted in reading aloud, that connection."
alanjacobs  timcarmody  reading  literature  distraction  storytelling  pleasure  shame  audiobooks  books  internet  web  online  storify  structure  fiction  life  nonfiction  2011  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
A razor’s edge
"Listen closely to the “lesson I want to get across” at 6:31…”There is no opting out of new media…it changes a society as a whole…media mediates relationships…whole structure of society can change…we are on a razor’s edge between hopeful possibilities & more ominous futures….”

At min 8:14 Wesch describes what we need people to “be” to make our networked mediated culture work, and the barriers we are facing in schools. Wesch is right on. Corporate curriculum, schedules, bells, borders, & “teaching/classroom management” are easily assisted by technology. Yet to open learning & deschool our ed system represents the hopeful possibilities Wesch imagines & has acted on. What we accept from industrial schooling, how we proceed in our educational endeavors, & what we do, facilitate, witness, & promote in our actions in education mean so much to learners of today & the interconnected & interdependent systems we are all a part of."

[Love…"anthropologists want…to be children again"]

[Video is also here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwyCAtyNYHw ]
michaelwesch  anthropology  children  perspective  perception  deschooling  unlearning  media  newmedia  papuanewguinea  thomassteele-maley  relationships  networkedlearning  networks  possibility  hope  education  unschooling  healing  justice  culture  unmediated  mediatedculture  ivanillich  criticaleducation  global  names  naming  learning  tcsnmy  lcproject  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  interdependence  society  changing  gamechanging  influence  mediation  hopefulness  future  openness  freedom  control  surveillance  power  transparency  deception  participatory  distraction  interconnected  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
INTHECONVERSATION: Art Leisure Instead of Art Work: A Conversation with Randall Szott [Truly too much to quote, so random snips below. Go read the whole thing.]
"Sal Randolph talks w/ Randall Szott about collections, cooking, "art of living," & infra-institutional activity."

"undergrad art ed seemed overly concerned w/ 'how & what to make' sorts of questions…"

"in my possibly pathetic & overly romantic vision of considered life, I am quite hopeful about ability of (art & non-art) people to improve their own experience & others' in both grand & mundane ways"

"I would like to build along model of public library. Libraries meet an incredibly diverse set of needs & desires"

"art is a great conversation…tool for making meaning & enhancing experience, but it is highly specialized, & all too often, closed conversation of insiders"

"I am deeply committed to promoting "everyday" people who are finding ways to make lives more meaningful - devoted amateurs to a variety of intellectual pursuits, hobbyists, collectors, autodidacts, bloggers, karaoke singers, crafters, etc…advocate for a rich, inclusive understanding of human meaning-making."
2008  salrandolph  randallszott  leisure  art  living  collecting  food  cooking  life  slow  thinking  philosophy  unschooling  deschooling  credentials  artschool  education  learning  skepticism  everyday  vernacular  language  work  leisurearts  dilletante  generalists  cv  distraction  culture  marxism  anarchism  situationist  lcproject  tcsnmy  intellectualism  elitism  meaning  sensemaking  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  projectbasedlearning  projects  openstudio  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  thewhy  why  audiencesofone  canon  amateurs  artleisure  darkmatter  pbl  artschools  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Ahem! Are You Talking to Me? (Or Texting?) - NYTimes.com
"Powers…came away thinking he'd witnessed “a gigantic competition to see who can be more absent from the people & conversations happening right around them. Everyone in Austin was gazing into their little devices — a bit desperately, too, as if their lives depended on not missing the next tweet.”

In a phone conversation a few weeks afterward, Mr. Powers said that he is far from being a Luddite, but that he doesn’t “buy into the idea that digital natives can do both screen and eye contact.”

“They are not fully present because we are not built that way,” he said.

Where other people saw freedom — from desktop, from social convention, from boring guy in front of them — Mr. Powers saw “a kind of imprisonment.”

“There is a great deal of conformity under way, actually,” he added.

& therein lies the real problem. When someone you are trying to talk to ends up getting busy on a phone, the most natural response is not to scold, but to emulate. It’s mutually assured distraction."
williampowers  davidcarr  etiquette  mobile  phones  cellphones  attention  presence  human  distraction  twitter  sxsw  via:anthonyalbright  rudeness  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Sarah Vowell | Books | Interview | The A.V. Club [via: http://snarkmarket.com/2011/6762]
"And when I first saw one of those [banyan] trees, I thought, “That is how I think.” Little thoughts just sprout off and drip down and take root, and then they end up supporting more and more tendrils of thought, until it all coheres into one thing, but it’s still rickety-looking and spooky. I like to think that my tangents have a point. I do love a tangent. I think part of it is inherent within the discipline of non-fiction.

I always found that when I was a college student and researching my papers always the night before—and this was before the Internet—I’d be in the library and I’d find one thing, and see something else and want to follow that, which now is how the Internet has taught us to think, to click on link after link after link. But there is something inherent in research that fosters that way of thinking, and then there’s this other interesting thing, and that builds and builds…"
classideas  tangents  libraries  howwework  howwelearn  distraction  cv  christianity  colonialism  hawaii  indigenousrights  missionaries  sarahvowell  nonfiction  fiction  writing  mind  internet  web  exploration  meandering  thinking  connections  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Ubiquitous Learning - a critique - Wikiversity
"Ubiquitous learning as in situated learning, across platforms, devices, locations and jurisdictions, and including neglected historical references[1], ignored present initiatives[2], and acknowledging the risks of a darker future of corporate power over information, communication and medium[3].

So this is a critique of "Ubiquitous Learning", rejecting the notion as central content repository, or devices and software that favour such. Looking instead to that which supports and enhances peer to peer connection, contextualisation, localisation, device independence, and lowering barriers of cost, distraction, or central control."
leighblackall  ubiquitouslearning  conviviality  situatedlearning  contentrepositories  peertopeer  networks  networkedlearning  contextualization  distraction  centralization  localization  local  independence  unschooling  deschooling  critique  decentralization  software  communication  crossplatform  corporatism  information  control  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Southwest by South - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Personal - The Atlantic
"My friend schooled me on the best running path. And we talked about architecture, Austin, and the horror and beauty of the South. (Everything is a problem.) In large measure, I'm missing out on the whole festival. I did a panel on distraction and the internet. I went to a party where Diplodocus was spinning (I decline to abbreviate, because "Diplodocus" is too awesome of a word. I insist on taking every opportunity to employ it.) But there's a gang-bang element here, one you tend to find at all festivals, but one I generally dislike all the same. So I revel in the small moments, margherita pizza and red wine. A chance to greet a fellow Commie."
introverts  ta-nehisicoates  sxsw  texas  slavery  2011  austin  janeausten  diplodocus  parenthood  distraction  attention  relationships  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Blocked - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Culture - The Atlantic
"The panel I was on at SXSW dealt a lot with the distractions that seduce content-makers, particularly on the web. For a long time, I considered myself ADD & dreamed of a pill that could make it alright. But the longer I write, the more I think my problems have less to do w/ ADD, & more to do with my desire to avoid pain.

It's painful to write. It's painful to take a clear look at your finances, at your health, at your relationships. At least it's painful when you have no confidence that you can actually improve in those areas. I would not speak for anyone else, but most of my distractions are traceable to a deep-seated fear that I may not ultimately prevail.

I guess I could have taken a pill to ease that anxiety, and I would not disparage those who do. But there's something powerful…in knowing that the anxiety is not mystical. Surely, I still often procrastinate. But conceptualizing it as fear has really helped. I don't want to be a chump. I refuse to punked by the work."
ta-nehisicoates  writing  add  pain  anxiety  howwework  fear  risk  risktaking  2011  sxsw  work  cv  procrastination  distraction  web  online  internet  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Bilingualism | Hilery Williams
"It seems that in timed problem solving tests, the thought processes of bilingual people move rapidly from one language to another in order to retrieve information. Thus, knowing 2 words for the same concept creates flexibility and, it is claimed, freer thinking. Naturally this requires practice but this research is evidence of the extreme adaptability and plasticity of the brain."

"Other studies have shown that the cognitive benefits of bilingualism are apparent from 2 years of age. It’s not just that the 2 year olds solve problems better, but that they are less distractible than mono-linguists: they are accustomed to listening and adapting to two modes of speech."
language  bilingualism  cognition  cognitive  cognitivedisability  adaptability  plasticity  memory  flexibility  retrieval  problemsolving  information  freethinking  listening  adaptation  distraction  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Freedom - Windows and Mac Internet Blocking Software
"Freedom is a simple productivity application that locks you away from the internet on Mac or Windows computers for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom frees you from distractions, allowing you time to write, analyze, code, or create. At the end of your offline period, Freedom allows you back on the internet. You can download Freedom immediately for 10 dollars through either PayPal or Google Checkout."
productivity  software  mac  windows  distraction  attention  focus  applications  via:robinsloan  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Finding Time | Rebecca Solnit | Orion Magazine
"conundrum is that language to describe ineffable splendors & possibilities of our lives takes time to master, takes a certain unhurried engagement w/ tasks of description, assessment, critique, & conversation; that to speak this slow language you must slow down, & to slow down you must have some inkling of what you will gain by doing so. It’s not an elite language; nomadic & remote tribal peoples are now quite good at picking & choosing from development’s cascade of new toys, & so are some of cash-poor, culture-rich people in places like Louisiana. Poetry is good training in speaking it, & skepticism is helpful in rejecting the four horsemen of this apocalypse [Efficiency, Convenience, Profitability, & Security], but both require a mind that likes to roam around & the time in which to do it.

Ultimately…slowness is an act of resistance, not because slowness is a good in itself but because of all that it makes room for, the things that don’t get measured and can’t be bought."

[My take: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/2393325961/slowness-is-an-act-of-resistance ]
culture  productivity  technology  music  efficiency  convenience  profitability  pleasure  poetry  sociability  security  slow  slowness  cash-poor  culture-rich  inspiration  nomads  skepticism  language  conversation  time  resistance  neo-nomads  distraction  well-being  2010  rebeccasolnit  comments  cv  canon  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Good and Bad Procrastination
"If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It's not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way.

When I talk to people who've managed to make themselves work on big things, I find that all blow off errands, and all feel guilty about it. I don't think they should feel guilty. There's more to do than anyone could. So someone doing the best work they can is inevitably going to leave a lot of errands undone. It seems a mistake to feel bad about that."
procrastination  gtd  paulgraham  productivity  2005  distraction  attention  interruptions  focus  creativity  innovation  work  cv  efficiency  errands  priorities  lifehacks  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Who says our way is the right way? « BuzzMachine
"As I sit on the board of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, I have been thinking about the different ways people learn. RFB&D gives students the tools to learn by listening. We call that a disability. I think it may soon be seen as an advantage.

A group of Danish academics say we are passing through the other side of what they wonderfully call the Gutenberg Parenthesis, leaving the structured, serial, permanent, authored, controlled era of text & returning, perhaps, to what came before the press: a time when communication and content cross, when process dominates product, when knowledge is distributed by people passing it around, when we remix it along the way, when we are more oral & aural.

That’s what makes me think that RFB&D’s clients may end up w/ a leg up. They understand better than the textually oriented among us how to learn through hearing. Rather than being seen as the people who need extra help, perhaps they will be in the position to give the rest of us help."
reading  education  technology  jeffjarvis  attention  literacy  gutenbergparenthesis  gutenberg  listening  learning  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  dyslexia  blind  distraction  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Bunchberry & Fern: The Future of Workplace Learning (and this blog)
"My advice for people interested in Getting Things Done is to set aside all that productivity mumbo-jumbo until you're ready to optimise. If you're not doing what you want to do, it's not because you need a new calendar app, but because you have no real clear idea of what you want to do."
gtd  productivity  productivityasdistraction  distraction  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Attention versus distraction? What that big NY Times story leaves out » Nieman Journalism Lab
"question, though, is: distraction from what? & also: What’s inherently wrong with distraction?…What that framing forgets, though, is that the other side of fragmentation can be focus: the kind of deep-dive, myopic-in-a-good-way, almost Zen-like concentration that sparks to life when intellectual engagement couples with emotional affinity…Formal education, as we’ve framed it, is not only about finding ways to learn more about the things we love, but also, equally, about squelching our aversion to the things we don’t — all in the ecumenical spirit of generalized knowledge…The web inculcates a follow your bliss approach to learning that seeps, slowly, into the broader realm of information; under its influence, our notion of knowledge is slowly shedding its normative layers…Community, after all, needs the normative to function; the question is where we draw the line between the interest and the imperative…what we really want from digital world = permission to be impulsive."
attention  distraction  unschooling  deschooling  control  impulsivity  impulse-control  apathy  focus  learning  education  culture  information  socialmedia  technology  digitalnatives  constructivism  psychology  21stcenturyskills  criticism  lcproject  schools  formaleducation  informallearning  motivation  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Why Doesn't Anyone Pay Attention Anymore? | HASTAC
[A response to: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?pagewanted=all ]

"We need to distinguish what scientists know about human neurophysiology from our all-too-human discomfort w/ cultural & social change. I've been an English professor for >20 years & have heard how students don't pay attention, can't read a long novel anymore, & are in decline against some unspecified norm of idealized past quite literally every year…we measure our kids' deficits by our glowing & often inflated idea of how much better "we" (our entire generation) were. This is not really a discussion about biology of attention; it's about sociology of change…Virtually all of our current institutions of learning have evolved to prepare youth for industrial age model of work…sit still, don't move, come on time, do this subject then that one in order to pass end-of-grade item-response test. Who wouldn't find video games more stimulating than a typical school day—& more relevant to challenges & obstacles ahead?…mismatch btwn way they are being taught & what they need to learn."
cathydavidson  education  learning  neuroscience  neurophysiology  deschooling  unschooling  technology  distraction  attention  brain  internet  teaching  teens  change  society  generations  idealizedpast  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Blaise Agüera y Arcas, the Mind Behind Bing Maps | Creating - WSJ.com
"applied a coat of blackboard paint to the wall himself because he dislikes odor of whiteboard marker…manages about 60 people…most stimulating meetings…are "jam sessions," in which people riff on each others' ideas…Prototypes are crucial…most productive moments often occur outside office, w/out distraction of meetings. After he has dinner & puts children to bed…he & wife, neuroscientist at UW, often sit side-by-side working on laptops late into night…Though…greater management responsibilities over years…still considers it vital to find time to develop projects on his own. "You see people who evolved in this way, & sometimes it looks like their brains died"…finds driving a car "deadening," so he takes a bus to work from his home, reading or working on his laptop…When young…dismantled things both animal & inanimate, from cameras to guinea pigs, so that he could see how they worked"
blaiseagüerayarcas  meetings  distraction  microsoft  bing  maps  mapping  nightowls  management  administration  leadership  brainstorming  iteration  prototyping  ommuting  cv  buses  cars  driving  howthingswork  detachment  attention  work  howwework  creativity  invention  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Your Word Processor Is Distracting You (Global Moxie)
"When author Jonathan Franzen wrote The Corrections, he went so far as to blindfold himself in order to give complete concentration to his prose. In a 2001 profile of Franzen, The Guardian wrote:

"He locked himself away in his spartan studio on 125th Street in East Harlem to write. Some days, in order to keep his mind “free of all clichés,” he wrote in the dark, with the blinds drawn and the lights off. And he wore earplugs, earmuffs and a blindfold. “You can always find the ‘home’ keys on your computer,” he says in an embarrassed whisper. “They have little raised bumps.”"

Here’s a guy who won the National Book Award for his novel, and he couldn’t even see his screen, let alone diddle with his word processor’s line spacing. “What you see is what you get?” When your task is building ideas, WYSIWYG just isn’t all that relevant."
jonathanfranzen  writing  wordprocessing  text  markdown  johngruber  distraction  attention  editing  focus  bbedit  textmate  via:cervus  wysiwyg  editplus  textwrangler  notepad  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses [A quote from Dwight MacDonald on the force-feeding of culture from the perspective of a "conservative anarchist"]
"“Well, I say, being an anarchist, that I don’t believe in taking people by the hand and force-feeding them culture. I think they should make their own decisions. If they want to go to museums and concerts, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t be seduced into doing it or shamed into doing it.”

— Dwight MacDonald, who called himself a “conservative anarchist.” This is an important idea in my forthcoming book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction."
anarchism  distraction  reading  museums  culture  society  unschooling  deschooling  self-directedlearning  self-directed  autodidacts  autodidactism  learning  intrinsicmotivation  motivation  forcefeeding  decisions  glvo  indoctrination  autodidacticism  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
A phone to save us from our screens?
"…The first is an post-apocalyptic vision of humanity stuck with their heads in their mobile devices:

Here’s David Webster, chief strategy officer in Microsoft’s central marketing group, explaining their anti-screen strategy: “Our sentiment was that if we could have an insight to drive the campaign that flipped the category on its head, then all the dollars that other people are spending glorifying becoming lost in your screen or melding w/ your phone are actually making our point for us.”

The problem of glowing rectangles is a subject close to my heart, & Matt Jones has been bothered by the increase in mobile glowing attention-wells.

I think Microsoft & Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s advertising strategy stands out in a world full of slick floaty media. The only problem is that without any strategy towards tangible interaction, I’m not sure the ‘tiles’ interaction concept is strong enough to actually take people’s attention out of the glass."

["Microsoft has two new ads, anticipating their upcoming Windows Phone 7 launch.…] [Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv-fbO-_xl0 AND http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHlN21ebeak ]
ads  advertising  mobile  phones  screens  iphone  attention  glowingrectangles  mattjones  timoarnall  floatymedia  palm  tangibility  tangibleinteraction  interaction  glass  2010  windowsmobile7  windowsmobile  society  distraction  humanitiy  etiquette  presence  computing  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Contributors - Ditch Your Laptop, Dump Your Boyfriend - NYTimes.com
"Somewhere in your childhood is a gaping hole. Fill this hole…best things I did in college all involved explorations"

"Remember to take some time away from campus"

"When you leave your room for class, leave laptop behind. In a lecture, you’ll only waste your time & parents’ money, disrespect professor & annoy whomever is trying to pay attention…by spending the hour on Facebook.

You don’t need a computer to take notes—good note-taking is not transcribing. All that clack, clack, clacking…you’re a student, not a court reporter. And in seminar or discussion sections, get used to being around a table with a dozen other humans, a few books & your ideas. After all, you have the rest of your life to hide behind a screen during meetings."

"when my drawing teacher invited several of us students to dinner at her house, I was still worried that I was out of my league. But in this casual setting, everyone opened up, & I was able to talk about art in the most relaxed & personal way."
education  learning  teaching  advice  wisdom  off-campus  exploration  colleges  universities  notetaking  self  identity  attention  technology  distraction  seminars  tcsnmy  lcproject  casual  intimacy  comfort  safety  reality  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Are Distractible People More Creative? | Wired Science | Wired.com
"not enough to simply pay attention to everything—such a deluge of sensation can quickly get confusing. (Kierkegaard referred to this mental state as “drowning in possibility”. Some scientists believe that schizophrenia is characterized by extremely low latent inhibition coupled w/ severe working memory deficits…leads to a mind constantly hijacked by minor distractions.)…We need to let more info in, but we also need to be ruthless about throwing out useless stuff.

People bemoan infinite distractions of web, way we’re constantly being seduced by hyperlinks, unexpected search results, arcane Wikipedia entries. & yes, that’s all true—I just wasted 30 minutes searching for that Kierkegaard quote. (I ended up on a Danish culture website, which led me to a photography collection of Danish modern furniture…) But the problem isn’t distractibility per se—it's distractibility coupled w/ failure to curate our thoughts, to monitor relevancy of whatever is loitering in working memory."
jonahlehrer  neuroscience  attention  distraction  psychology  creativity  research  brain  behavior  intelligence  imaginzation  schizophrenia  memory  internet  online  cv  curation  curating  filtering  forgetting  focus  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Cognitive Load | Quiet Babylon
"This is the opposite of a cyborg implementation. These are tools that hurt cognition, break concentration, and interrupt flow. Far from leaving us free to explore, to create, to think, and to feel, they keep us trapped to manage, to maintain, to adjust, and to fiddle. It’s my belief that as long as augmented reality continues to demand our conscious attention to gee-gaws and whatsits, it’ll remain forever trapped in the world of novelty and toys.

I look forward to the backlash generation of AR. We don’t need augmented reality, we need diminished reality. I want overlays that keep the irrelevant at bay. I want augments that take care of the robot-problems unconsciously and automatically, alerting me only in the rare case that something truly novel or problematic needs my attention."
timmaly  cyborgs  augmentedreality  flow  concentration  interruptions  distraction  attention  technology  cognition  cognitiveload  ar  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Quran Burning Story: This Is How The Media Embarrass Themselves
"The story of how one lone idiot, pimping an 18th-century brand of community terrorism, held the media hostage and forced some of this nation's most powerful people to their knees to fitfully beg an end to his wackdoodlery is an extraordinary one. It's a modern media retelling of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", in which a gang of Islamaphobes, cast in the role of Addie Bundren, bamboozle the media into carrying their coffin full of malevolence on a journey of pure debasement. Let's begin at the beginning."
jasonlinkins  media  2010  idiocy  distraction  terrorism  attentionwhores  politics  policy  newtgingrich  religion  qur'an  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Knowable - Neven Mrgan's tumbl ["About those daily walks of mine: they’re great…"]
"I don’t make it a point to stash the phone, but hey, it’s a walk, so I’ll usually pass time by checking out neighborhood, trying not to step on cracks (or step ONLY on cracks) & pondering. If, however, question comes to my mind—[one] w/ definite answer, something that can be looked up quickly—of course I will look it up. There’s little to be gained by struggling to figure out meaning of technical musical term all by myself, in vacuo. […Example…] something I used to do as a curious & hopelessly computerless teen: work hard on cracking these questions. Have we gone back to moon after Apollo 11?…Do baby girls have uteruses, or does that develop later? Since there was no way for me to work out answers to these by searching desk drawers & sofa cushions of my head—the needed info was just not there—I would construct my own answers. Right or wrong, they’d on some level become assimilated into my beliefs. That’s an infrequently discussed negative effect of unplugging your info cord."
nevenmrgan  wonder  search  mobilephones  ubicomp  thinking  belief  answers  questions  information  efficiency  clarity  distraction  walking  whatweusedtodo  appropriateuseoftechnology  understanding  technology  2010  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
fake tv — on going offline
"* My attention span grew back, from about 10 seconds to several hours. I could read half a novel at a time, without the itch to look at something new. You know, that twitch of your left hand to open a new tab…

* My peripheral vision grew back, my field of focus going from a small, Mac Book shaped rectangle to the whole horizon. I remember thinking, this landscape has infinite detail, waaaay more than HD… Dumb, but true.

* I enjoyed ignoring incoming email for extended stretches of time.

* In conversations, I lost the impulse to constantly look up relevant tangents online, or reference YouTube videos and blogs.

* Twitter now seems like an insufferable commotion.

* The best antidote to internet addiction is reading novels."
reading  attention  online  web  internet  twitter  distraction  impulse-control  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Fishing with Strawberries - O'Reilly Media [via: http://twitter.com/lmoberglavoie/status/21289227189[
"On one level, the difference between the two points of view is simply the difference between selling one on one to a very targeted prospect and selling to a mass market, where you are casting a wide net, and some set of potential customers will match your own "strawberry" profile.<br />
<br />
But there's perhaps a deeper level on which this difference is one on which a great deal that is special about this company hinges. We seek to find what is true in ourselves, and use it to resonate with whatever subject we explore, trusting that resonance to lead us to kindred spirits out in the world, and them to us.<br />
<br />
I like to think that we have the capability to fish with worms when necessary, but that in general, we're farmers, not fishermen, and strawberries go over just fine."<br />
<br />
[Related: http://brendandawes.posterous.com/being-selfish-making-things-for-yourself-to-m]
entrepreneurship  tcsnmy  creativity  creation  making  doing  sales  customers  massmarket  business  fulfillment  greatness  focus  distraction  lcproject  devotion  purpose  visions  timoreilly  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - The Back Side of Your Gullet is Decadent and Depraved, Part 3
"I’ve been around a long time, & most of the work has always been bad. Half of it is always below average: that’s how math works. Don’t think things are special now. They’re just different. The thing with the past is that you forget about all the bad stuff. It fades, disappears, because it’s not memorable. It’s just mundane, forgettable garbage.”

"That’s what it’s like to care about something. That’s what it’s like to love, & you can’t be cool & love something at the same time, whether it’s a girl or a place or a message or an idea. You love it because you see the infinite potential in it. And that’s what it takes to make something really wonderful. You need to gush & love."

"Craft is love manifest."

"Research wasn’t research, it was flailing for something good, something meaningful, something nourishing; a quest for substance with no logical end. It was getting stuck in a revolving door & thinking that you were going some where because you had taken so many steps."
frankchimero  love  craft  glvo  iteration  dedication  profound  forgetting  memory  good  bad  experience  emotion  tcsnmy  creativity  creation  nourishment  research  cv  spinningwheels  substance  meaning  misdirection  distraction  attention  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Why aren’t games about winning anymore?
"But if videogame achievements can make us ignore the end goal in favour of a little gold star, is there any doubt that real-life "achievements" can distract us from what’s actually important in life?

Certainly, incentives can be used to drive good behaviour, but there’s no guarantee that companies or organisations able to provide the most effective incentives will be the ones with the most altruistic motives. (And, of course, if I’m the one unconsciously making up my own achievements, I know they’re not always going to be what’s best for me.)

I’m not saying that achievements in videogames are inherently a bad thing. I’m just saying that perhaps we should take a step back and consider how they make us relate to the world."
games  gaming  videogames  jesseschell  motivation  achievements  competitions  productivity  gamedesign  infinitegames  process  goals  incentives  behavior  life  distraction  theory  via:blackbeltjones  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
America's Most Exclusive Club - BusinessWeek [I belong to an exclusive club!]
"Not having a cell phone is a way of getting the world to run on your time. A lot of powerful people are already on to this. Warren Buffett doesn't use one. Nor does Mikhail Prokhorov, the 45-year-old Russian billionaire who owns the New Jersey Nets. Tavis Smiley doesn't own one, either.

Smiley, 45, host of a weekly PBS talk show & national radio show, freaked out 2 years ago after realizing he couldn't remember phone numbers or appointments w/out checking his cell. Smiley believes his decision to give up his cell phone has benefited his 75-employee company, The Smiley Group. "At first everybody was complaining that it would be the death of the company. What's actually happened is that they get more conversation with me than they used to." …

These non-cell-phone users don't avoid all modern forms of communication. Many are on Facebook & Twitter, & almost all are besotted by e-mail, which gives them time to insidiously shift the conversation to a moment convenient for them."
mobile  phones  power  time  distraction  attention  2010  cv  twitter  email  technology  interruptions  relationships  convenience  warrenbuffett  mikhailprokhorov  tavissmiley  conversation  presentations  travel  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
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