robertogreco + immersion   36

William Gibson on Watches | WatchPaper
“William Gibson is famously credited with predicting the internet. Early works like Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive established him as a major voice in science fiction and the worlds he created still serve as a template for how popular culture views the future. If you’ve seen The Matrix or read any cyberpunk, you’ve seen William Gibson’s influence at work. Equally important, but perhaps less famous are his essays, collected recently in Distrust That Particular Flavour. Highly perceptive and suggestive, they span a range of topics from Singapore’s totalitarianism and Tokyo’s futurism, to the Web and technology’s effect on us all. The volume also contains his glosses on those essays, which were written over a span of 30 years. Brief afterwords, they are his reflections on the content, and on the person who wrote that content at a point and time, and what’s happened since. In his 1997 essay, “My Obsession”, William Gibson chronicled his interest in watches for Wired magazine. [See “My Obsession” https://www.wired.com/1999/01/ebay/ ] The essay is as much about the advent of the internet and sites like eBay as it is about watches, and his afterword to the essay reflects:
People who’ve read this piece often assume that I subsequently became a collector of watches. I didn’t, at least not in my own view. Collections of things, and their collectors, have generally tended to give me the willies. I sometimes, usually only temporarily, accumulate things in some one category, but the real pursuit is in the learning curve. The dive into esoterica. The quest for expertise. This one lasted, in its purest form, for five or six years. None of the eBay purchases documented [in the essay] proved to be “keepers.” Not even close.

Undaunted by his placing this interest squarely in the past, something he got over, I wanted to find out what had survived, physically or intellectually, of his obsession. It turns out, quite a lot. We corresponded via email and William Gibson shared his thoughts on collecting, how he got started, what “keepers” remain in his collection and why. We also talked about the Apple watch and what it means for traditional horology.”

...

"If “old” people, as you mentioned in our recent discussion, are concerned that what they’ve collected will be unwanted, how is that anxiety being manifested? Some watch brands like Patek Philippe use durability, inheritance and legacy as their explicit identity.

I was thinking of someone with dozens of rare military watches. Even if they have children, will the children want their watches? It could be difficult finding the right museum to donate them to, in order to keep the collection intact. I think Patek’s appeal to inheritance and legacy still has some basis, though the wristwatch itself has become a piece of archaic (though still functional) jewelry. You don’t absolutely need one. You do, probably, absolutely need your smartphone, and it also tells the time. Eventually, I assume, virtually everything will also tell the time.

Is there something authentic in collecting we as humans are striving for? What does the impulse represent for you?

I actively enjoy having fewer, preferably better things. So I never deliberately accumulated watches, except as the temporary by-product of a learning curve, as I searched for my own understanding of watches, and for the ones I’d turn out to particularly like. I wanted an education, rather than a collection. But there’s always a residuum: the keepers. (And editing is as satisfying as acquiring, for me.)

Do you think there’s anything intrinsic to watches (their aesthetics, engineering etc.) that make them especially susceptible to our interest?

Mechanical timekeeping devices were among our first complex machines, and became our first ubiquitous complex machines, and the first to be miniaturized. Mechanical wristwatches were utterly commonplace for less than a century. Today, there’s no specific need for a mechanical watch, unless you’re worried about timekeeping in the wake of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack. So we have heritage devices, increasingly archaic in the singularity of their function, their lack of connectivity. But it was exactly that lack that once made them heroic: they kept telling accurate time, regardless of what was going on around them. They were accurate because they were unconnected, unitary.

How do you think the notion of collecting has changed since your preoccupation with watches played itself out? Scarcity (but not true rarity) barely exists any more.

The Internet makes it increasingly easy to assemble a big pile of any category of objects, but has also rationalized the market in every sort of rarity. There’s more stuff, and fewer random treasures. When I discovered military watches, I could see that that was already happening to them, but that there was still a window for informed acquisition. That’s mostly closed now. The world’s attic is now that much more thoroughly sorted and priced!"
watches  williamgibson  ebay  horology  fashion  collecting  collections  learning  howwelearn  2015  esoterica  research  researching  deepdives  expertise  obsessions  cv  immersion  posterity  legacy  analog  mechanical  durability  longevity  inheritance  jewelery  smartphones  understanding  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  timekeeping  connectivity  scarcity  objects  possessions  ownership  quality  internet  web  online  wristwatches  things  applewatch  pebble  pebblewatch  smartwatches 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch – Unboxing Stories on Vimeo
"2015 Future of StoryTelling Summit Speaker: Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist

A pioneer in digital ethnography, Dr. Michael Wesch studies how our changing media is altering human interaction. As an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea, Wesch saw firsthand how oral storytelling worked for much of human civilization: It was a group activity that rewarded participation, transformed our perceptions, and created a changing flow of stories across generations. Reading and writing replaced oral storytelling with linear, fixed stories. Upon returning from Papua New Guinea, Wesch created the 2007 viral video hit Web 2.0...The Machine Is Us/ing Us, about the Internet's effects on our culture. At FoST, he’ll explore how our evolution from a literate culture to a digital one can return us to collaborative storytelling, resulting in a more engaged, participatory, and connected society."
michaelwesch  stories  storytelling  anthropology  2015  papuanewguinea  humans  civilization  perception  connection  participation  spontaneity  immersion  religion  involvement  census  oraltradition  oral  wikipedia  society  web2.0  media  particiption  conversation  television  tv  generations  neilpostman  classideas  web  online  socialmedia  alonetogether  suburbs  history  happenings  confusion  future  josephcampbell  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  culture  culturlanthropology  srg 
april 2018 by robertogreco
choice – Snakes and Ladders
"You can’t understand the place and time you’re in by immersion; the opposite’s true. You have to step out and away and back and forward, through books and art and music, and you have to do it regularly. Then you come back to the Here and Now, and say: Ah. That’s how it is.

But maybe 2% of the people you encounter will do this. The other 98% are wholly creatures of this particular intersection in spacetime, and can’t be made to care about anything else.

You can, then, have understanding or attention. Pick."
alanjacobs  2018  zoominginandout  immersion  place  time  atemporality  books  art  music  culture  perspective  seeing 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Pool of Thought - The New York Times
"THERE is no drug — recreational or prescription — capable of inducing the tranquil euphoria brought on by swimming. I do all my best thinking in the pool, whether I’m trying to figure out how to treat a patient’s complicated ailment or write a paper. Why that is is mysterious, but I have a theory.

Assuming you have some basic stroke proficiency, your attention is freed from the outside world. You just have to dimly sense the approaching wall before you flip turn and go on your way. Cut off from sound, you are mostly aware of your breathing. You have to traverse boredom before you can get to a state of mental flow. Now your mind is free to revel in nonlinear, associative thought. Nothing has to make sense. You suddenly become aware that time has passed. You are not sure what elapsed in that strange discontinuity, but the solution to a problem that escaped you on land is perfectly obvious emerging from the water — a rapturous experience.

I could flood you with facts about the physiology of swimming in an attempt to convince you of its cognitive benefits. Some point to endorphins — but the idea that exertion causes endorphin levels to rise in the brain seems to be a myth. Perhaps swimming improves brain function by increasing blood flow? Sure, that’s true. It also raises the level of BDNF, a protein that promotes neurogenesis, especially in the hippocampus, which supports memory. But so does nearly every form of exercise that speeds up your heart rate.

And yet, immersion in water up to the level of the heart has been shown to increase blood flow to one of the brain’s major arteries by 14 percent over that which you’d expect on land. So perhaps there is something special about swimming that is distinct from exercise on land.

Some of my psychoanalytically oriented colleagues have joked that swimming promotes an emotional regression — back to “swimming” in utero. I love the notion, but considering that the brain regions central to encoding long-term memory don’t develop sufficiently until around age 1, it’s unlikely.

My love of swimming is as emotional as it is intellectual. My father, who was a great swimmer, taught me to swim when I was very young. We swam together in every conceivable body of water for years, so swimming is inextricably bound to my relationship with my father, who was an engineer and a deeply curious person.

Though we never discussed it, I suspect that he, too, swam not just for health, but to think. He would return from a long swim and disappear into his office, emerging hours later excited about an insight into a new technology or instrument.

A few years back, my husband and I celebrated on our honeymoon by swimming from Europe to Asia across the Dardanelles — the Hellespont of Greek myth. It was about a two-and-a-half-mile swim in some of the most beautiful cool azure water, so I had plenty of time to think.

Halfway across, I looked up and could see the coast of Canakkale, Turkey, in the distance, and realized I had 40 minutes or so more to finish. I found myself thinking of my father, as I often do in the water, and pictured his powerful, graceful stroke. Next thing I knew, I had reached land."

[via: http://www.deliberate.rest/?p=966 ]
swimming  richardfriedman  2016  immersion  euphoria  psychology  nonlinear  discontinuity  beathing  senses  thinking  flow  howwethink  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?
"The Internet may cause our minds to wander off, and yet a quick look at the history of books suggests that we have been wandering off all along. When we read, the eye does not progress steadily along the line of text; it alternates between saccades—little jumps—and brief stops, not unlike the movement of the mouse’s cursor across a screen of hypertext. From the invention of papyrus around 3000 B.C., until about 300 A.D., most written documents were scrolls, which had to be rolled up by one hand as they were unrolled by the other: a truly linear presentation. Since then, though, most reading has involved codices, bound books or pamphlets, a major advantage of which (at least compared to the scroll) is that you can jump around in them, from chapter to chapter (the table of contents had been around since roughly the first century B.C.); from text to marginal gloss, and, later, to footnote."



"Comprehension matters, but so does pleasure. In Proust and the Squid, Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, observes that the brain’s limbic system, the seat of our emotions, comes into play as we learn to read fluently; our feelings of pleasure, disgust, horror and excitement guide our attention to the stories we can’t put down. Novelists have known this for a long time, and digital writers know it, too. It’s no coincidence that many of the best early digital narratives took the form of games, in which the reader traverses an imaginary world while solving puzzles, sometimes fiendishly difficult ones. Considered in terms of cognitive load, these texts are head-bangingly difficult; considered in terms of pleasure, they’re hard to beat.

A new generation of digital writers is building on video games, incorporating their interactive features—and cognitive sparks—into novelistic narratives that embrace the capabilities of our screens and tablets. Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro’s 2014 iPad novella, Pry, tells the story of a demolitions expert returned home from the first Gulf War, whose past and present collide, as his vision fails. The story is told in text, photographs, video clips, and audio. It uses an interface that allows you to follow the action and shift between levels of awareness. As you read text on the screen, describing characters and plot, you draw your fingers apart and see a photograph of the protagonist, his eyes opening on the world. Pinch your fingers shut and you visit his troubled unconscious; words and images race by, as if you are inside his memory. Pry is the opposite of a shallow work; its whole play is between the surface and the depths of the human mind. Reading it is exhilarating.

There’s no question when you read (or play) Pry that you’re doing something your brain isn’t quite wired for. The interface creates a feeling of simultaneity, and also of having to make choices in real time, that no book could reproduce. It asks you to use your fingers to do more than just turn the page. It communicates the experience of slipping in and out of a story, in and out of a dream, or nightmare. It uses the affordances of your phone or tablet to do what literature is always trying to do: give you new things to think about, to expand the world behind your eyes. It’s stressful, at first. How are you supposed to know if you’re reading it right? What if you miss something? But if you play (or read) it long enough, you can almost feel your brain begin to adapt.

Most of the Web is not like Pry—not yet, anyway. But the history of reading suggests that what we’re presently experiencing is probably not the end times of human thought. It’s more like an interregnum, or the crouch before a leap. Wolf points out that when it comes to reading, what we get out is largely what we put in. “The reading brain circuit reflects the affordances of what it reads,” she notes: affordances being the built-in opportunities for interaction. The more we skim, the more we’re likely to keep skimming; on the other hand, the more we plunge into a text, the more we’re likely to keep plunging. “We’re in a digital culture,” Wolf says. “It’s not a question of making peace. We have to be discerning, vigilant, developmentally savvy.” And of course we have to be surprised, delighted, puzzled, even disturbed. We have to enjoy ourselves. If we can do that, digital reading will expand the already vast interior space of our humanity."
howweread  readin  albertomanguel  technology  reading  digital  internet  paullafarge  maryannewolf  web  online  staugustine  ambrose  nicholascarr  socrates  brain  agostinoramelli  history  attention  digitalmedia  rolfengelsing  rakefetackerman  morrisgoldsmith  johannesnaumann  dianadestefano  jo-annelefevre  hypertext  michaelwenger  davidpayne  comprehension  engagement  enjoyment  talyarkoni  nicolespeer  jeffreyzacks  psychology  memory  linearity  footnotes  marginalia  bookfuturism  information  wandering  cognitiveload  games  gaming  videogames  samanthagorman  dannycannizzaro  ipad  pry  interiority  affordances  interface  linear  awareness  immersion  skimming  cv  humanity  interregnum  interactivity  interaction 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Man Who Will Save Math | New Republic
"Today, Meyer is the Chief Academic Officer at Desmos, a San Francisco startup that offers an online graphing calculator. The company is now building on that tool by offering complete, interactive lesson plans. Like the calculator, the lessons are free to the masses; Desmos plans to profit by selling the product to corporate entities.

The lessons use interactive technology to help students begin with the concrete: One lesson starts with a slab of pavement that must be divided into equally sized parking spaces; another asks students to recreate an animation in graph form. The emphasis is slightly different than Meyer’s old “Three-Act Tasks”: exploration and communication are now privileged over stories. In the parking lot lesson, students draw and redraw their dividers, getting immediate feedback as cars try to pull into their spaces; only gradually do they begin to work with numbers and variables. Other modules ask students to share their models with the class, which allows them to revise their thinking based on the ideas of their peers. Desmos’s lessons are based on the idea of constructivism, a theory that views knowledge as something that must be built by learners themselves.

This is a progressive and rather controversial notion. Developed from the ideas of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget and American philosopher John Dewey in the twentieth century, it was popularized by reform-minded educators starting in the 1960s. In mathematics, constructivism and other “student-centered” forms of teaching have come under particular fire in mathematics: Are kids really supposed to discover 10,000 years of math all on their own? Meyer’s advisor at Stanford, Jo Boaler, well known for her efforts to make math more widely accessible, has described a concerted effort to discredit her work.

Meyer dismisses his own critics as ideologues. If they see anything that deviates from clear, straightforward explanation, he says, “they have a fuse that is tripped, a certain surge goes through their brain,” he said. “The question is not should we explain, but when should we explain.” Meyer believes we need to provide certain experiences to students before we lecture: showing why a tool is needed, for example, or provoking cognitive conflict, or providing an opportunity to create informal algorithms before the standard algorithms are taught.

I’m a former high school math teacher, and I worked for five years coaching teachers in Mississippi. The students in the schools where I worked were nearly all African American, and many faced the steep challenges of rural poverty. When I first encountered Meyer’s TED Talk in 2010, I was skeptical. But over time I saw too many students who were doing math just because they were told they had to; I began incorporating the ideas of constructivism into the lessons I developed for teachers. The few I could compel to try these lessons found their students’ perceptions of the subject transformed.

But my initial skepticism—and the skepticism of the teachers I coached—is telling. Constructivism is now an old theory, but it’s still uncommon, often associated with privileged private schools. (Meyer says he and his team test all their lessons in classrooms around the Bay Area, and aim to include a range of economic backgrounds and previous experiences with mathematics.) It’s is an ambitious form of teaching, putting high demands on a teachers—who must respond in the moment to each student’s developing ideas. That goes against the cut-the-workload-with-technology mentality pursued by Meyer’s competitors, and it’s a hard sell to administrators at struggling schools, who are often asked to make quick changes in test scores.

Which means Meyer’s quest can’t end with the creation of a few lesson plans, or even an entire textbook. He sees this as a generational project. “You really need the students in these classrooms to grow up and become teachers,” he says. “At that point a cycle begins.” The alien abductions will be over; math will be something that students do, rather than something that’s done to them."
danmeyer  digitalstorytelling  education  immersion  math  mathematics  howweteach  guershonharel  constructivism  piaget  johndewey  joboaler  desmos  boyceupholt  jeanpiaget 
december 2015 by robertogreco
My Tribe Is an Unsophisticated People | CultureBy – Grant McCracken
"This is a photograph of Sara Little Turnbull (1917–2015). Sara was an designer and anthropologist. In 1988 she founded, and for 18 years she ran, the Process of Change Laboratory for Innovation and Design at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

I like this photo for a couple of reasons. Sara was caught at her desk, mid-task, mid-thought. She senses the camera and gives it a knowing look. What’s maybe most striking is her clothing. Ever so fashionable. Ever so anti-anthropological.

My tribe dresses badly. Jeans. It takes a lot of denim to clothe the field. We don’t ever dress up. The idea appears to be to dress as far down as possible without provoking the suspicion of vagrancy. When formal clothing is called for the anthropologist sometimes resorts to the clothing of the culture they study. Put it this way, no one ever looks like Sara.

A lot of this is “badge of pride” stuff. Anthropologists dress badly to make a point. They want you to know that they reject the conventions of a mainstream society, that they care nothing for the bourgeois respectability, upward mobility, and/or conspicuous consumption that animate the dress codes of the rest of the world. It’s not a punk violation of code. It’s just a way of saying “Look, we’re out.”

This strategy is not without it’s costs. As Marshall Sahlins, God’s gift to anthropology, used to say in his University of Chicago seminars, “every theory is a bargain with reality.” (By which we believed he meant, every theory buys some knowledge at the cost of other knowledge.) And so it is with every suit of clothing. It give you access to some parts of the world, but it denies you access to others.

This social immobility is not a bad thing if you are a nuclear scientist or a botanist. But it does matter if you are prepared to make claims to knowledge when it comes to your own culture, and anthropologists are never shy on this topic.

Anthropologists believe they know about a great deal about their own culture. But in point of fact, there are many worlds they do not know and cannot access, worlds of which they have scant personal knowledge and in which they have few personal contacts. Generally speaking, they don’t know anyone in the worlds of venture capital, advertising, graphic design, publishing, fashion, forecasting, strategy, philanthropy, art museums, professional sports, industrial design, user experience, startup capitalism, banking, branding, public relations, small business, big business, or politics. It’s a lot, the things anthropologist don’t know about their own culture.

Anjali Ramachandran recently heard Salman Rushdie speak in London and recalls he said something like,

“One thing I tell students is to try and get into as many different kinds of rooms to hear as many different kinds of conversations as possible. Because otherwise how will you find things to put in your books?”

Just so. Rushdie’s “many rooms” strategy is not embraced in anthropology. By and large, anthropologists encourage their students to stick to a small number of rooms where, by and large, they conduct the same conversation.

This is ironic not least because one of the field’s most recent and convincing contributions to the world beyond it’s own is actually a contemplation of the danger of living in a silo. Gillian Tett (PhD in social anthropology, University of Cambridge) recently published a book called The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers. This is a book about the compartmentalization of all organizations, but it might have been a study of the field of anthropology.

The further irony is that in its post-modern moment, anthropology claims to be especially, even exquisitely, self reflexive, but the sad thing is that it does ever seem to be reflexive on matters like this. Clifford Geertz used to say that much of anthropology is self confession. Too bad that’s no longer true.

Irony gives way to something less amusing when we see that this provincialism is not just self-imposed but enforced as a tribal obligation. Those who dare dress “up” or “well” or “fashionably” or, as we might say, “in a manner that maximizes cultural mobility” is scorned. As graduate students, we actually dared sneer at the elegant suits sported by Michael Silverstein. How dare he refuse this opportunity to tell the world how world-renouncing he was! There is something odd and a little grotesque about willing a provincialism of this kind and then continuing to insist on your right to make claims to knowledge.

Sara Little Turnbull knew better. She understood how many mansions are contained in the house of contemporary culture. She embraced the idea that anthropology was a process of participant observation and that we can’t understand our culture from the outside alone. Sara also understood that the few “ideas” that anthropology uses to account for this endlessly various data is a little like the people of Lilliput hoping to keep Gulliver in place on the beach with a couple of guy wires. Eventually the beast comes to. Sara could study contemporary culture because she didn’t underestimate it or constrain her rights of access."
anthropology  clothing  clothes  howwedress  grantmccracken  2015  saralittleturnball  anthropologists  ethnography  designresearch  centerfordesignresearch  salmanrushdie  processofchangelaboratory  anjaliramachandran  culture  gilliantett  marshallsahlins  provincialism  fashion  whatwewear  immersion 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Watch how this beautiful game exhibit helps kids figure out ecosystems - Boing Boing
[i see hints of Electroplankton in some of the visuals here.]

"The New York Hall of Science's new Connected Worlds exhibit is a series of six interactive ecosystems that spreads across the walls of its Great Hall, united by a 3000 square foot interactive floor. Kids can use their hands to plant seeds, or to move real logs to divert water and notice the effects on the various environments. Healthy ecosystems produce creatures that migrate among the different worlds.

It's intended to teach young folks about how systems work, especially in the contest of ecology and sustainability. Prolific game designer and artist Zach Gage (we last spoke to him about fortunetelling apps and accidental clones, but he does all kinds of things) consulted on the project:

"My biggest pushes were for ensuring that the takeaways for children were experiential (to be unpacked later with educators/family members/friends) rather than a set of point-by-point facts or statistics," he writes. "I strongly believe that part of the power of games is that they can convey experiences, not just lessons, and that experiences can be key in teaching certain topics that are too complex to ever truely understand—in this case, systems thinking."

As a kid I remember very little about my class trips to museums besides the worksheets, where we had to study exhibits and then write down what they told us about how the world works. Strangely I can't remember anything specific that I learned—just that I sat for a while copying down a diagram of a flower by hand, more interested in its infrastructure than in any fact the image could convey.

Learn more about the Connected Worlds project here, or see it for yourself at the New York Hall of Science, where it'll be housed for the next 5-10 years!"
games  gaming  seriousgames  ecosystems  museums  children  play  education  immersion  2015  leighalexander  connecetedworlds  interdependence  science 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Global Lives Project - A Video Library of Life ExperiencesGlobal Lives Project
"The Global Lives Project is a video library of life experience, designed to cultivate empathy across cultures. We curate an ever-expanding collection of films that faithfully capture 24 continuous hours in the lives of individuals from around the world. We explore the diversity of human experience through the medium of video, and encourage discussion, reflection, and inquiry about the wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions on this planet. Our goal is to foster empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

Our new web presence is possible thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and design firm Method. Allowing visitors to engage with and become participants in the Global Lives Project, this advanced web interface is vital to transforming Global Lives’ exhibit design into an interactive video installation. Please stay tuned as we iron out kinks and continue to launch features in the coming months."

[via: https://twitter.com/robinsloan/status/558686720955125760
"This → http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/business/media/vice-uses-virtual-reality-to-immerse-viewers-in-news.html … makes me think of the Global Lives Project, which might be amazing as VR: http://globallives.org/ " ]
global  international  documentary  film  globalization  culture  globallives  immersion  video  diversity  empathy  vr  understanding  virtualreality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Young Minds in Critical Condition - NYTimes.com
"It happens every semester. A student triumphantly points out that Jean-Jacques Rousseau is undermining himself when he claims “the man who reflects is a depraved animal,” or that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call for self-reliance is in effect a call for reliance on Emerson himself. Trying not to sound too weary, I ask the student to imagine that the authors had already considered these issues.

Instead of trying to find mistakes in the texts, I suggest we take the point of view that our authors created these apparent “contradictions” in order to get readers like us to ponder more interesting questions. How do we think about inequality and learning, for example, or how can we stand on our own feet while being open to inspiration from the world around us? Yes, there’s a certain satisfaction in being critical of our authors, but isn’t it more interesting to put ourselves in a frame of mind to find inspiration in them?

Our best college students are very good at being critical. In fact being smart, for many, means being critical. Having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. It is a sign of sophistication, especially when coupled with an acknowledgment of one’s own “privilege.”

The combination of resistance to influence and deflection of responsibility by confessing to one’s advantages is a sure sign of one’s ability to negotiate the politics of learning on campus. But this ability will not take you very far beyond the university. Taking things apart, or taking people down, can provide the satisfactions of cynicism. But this is thin gruel.

The skill at unmasking error, or simple intellectual one-upmanship, is not totally without value, but we should be wary of creating a class of self-satisfied debunkers — or, to use a currently fashionable word on campus, people who like to “trouble” ideas. In overdeveloping the capacity to show how texts, institutions or people fail to accomplish what they set out to do, we may be depriving students of the chance to learn as much as possible from what they study.

In campus cultures where being smart means being a critical unmasker, students may become too good at showing how things can’t possibly make sense. They may close themselves off from their potential to find or create meaning and direction from the books, music and experiments they encounter in the classroom.

Once outside the university, these students may try to score points by displaying the critical prowess for which they were rewarded in school, but those points often come at their own expense. As debunkers, they contribute to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning — a culture whose intellectuals and cultural commentators get “liked” by showing that somebody else just can’t be believed. But this cynicism is no achievement.

Liberal education in America has long been characterized by the intertwining of two traditions: of critical inquiry in pursuit of truth and exuberant performance in pursuit of excellence. In the last half-century, though, emphasis on inquiry has become dominant, and it has often been reduced to the ability to expose error and undermine belief. The inquirer has taken the guise of the sophisticated (often ironic) spectator, rather than the messy participant in continuing experiments or even the reverent beholder of great cultural achievements.

Of course critical reflection is fundamental to teaching and scholarship, but fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence has contributed to depleting our cultural resources. Creative work, in whatever field, depends upon commitment, the energy of participation and the ability to become absorbed in works of literature, art and science. That type of absorption is becoming an endangered species of cultural life, as our nonstop, increasingly fractured technological existence wears down our receptive capacities.

In my film and philosophy class, for example, I have to insist that students put their devices away while watching movies that don’t immediately engage their senses with explosions, sex or gag lines. At first they see this as some old guy’s failure to grasp their skill at multitasking, but eventually most relearn how to give themselves to an emotional and intellectual experience, one that is deeply engaging partly because it does not pander to their most superficial habits of attention. I usually watch the movies with them (though I’ve seen them more than a dozen times), and together we share an experience that becomes the subject of reflection, interpretation and analysis. We even forget our phones and tablets when we encounter these unexpected sources of inspiration.

Liberal learning depends on absorption in compelling work. It is a way to open ourselves to the various forms of life in which we might actively participate. When we learn to read or look or listen intensively, we are, at least temporarily, overcoming our own blindness by trying to understand an experience from another’s point of view. We are not just developing techniques of problem solving; we are learning to activate potential, and often to instigate new possibilities.

Yes, hard-nosed critical thinking is a useful tool, but it also may become a defense against the risky insight that absorption can offer. As students and as teachers we sometimes crave that protection; without it we risk changing who we are. We risk seeing a different way of living not as something alien, but as a possibility we might be able to explore, and even embrace.

Liberal education must not limit itself to critical thinking and problem solving; it must also foster openness, participation and opportunity. It should be designed to take us beyond the campus to a life of ongoing, pragmatic learning that finds inspiration in unexpected sources, and increases our capacity to understand and contribute to the world — and reshape it, and ourselves, in the "
criticalthinking  criticism  cynicism  2014  intellect  debate  skepticism  creativity  immersion  attention  inquiry  education  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  engagement  investment  michaleroth  philosophy  participatory  irony  spectators  sophistication 
may 2014 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Gangs Of New York, World-Building
"But, many of us spent a bit of the last year talking about world-creation, particularly as regards Grand Theft Auto or The Sims (others have discussed Buffyverse etc. - or created worlds like Gameneverending). I guess once you get used to immersing yourself in virtual worlds you're somehow complicit in the construction of, it's an increasingly attractive mode of experience. Sometimes you just want to experience a virtual city as a player/participant - to wander through it, moving the camera around, affecting it in small, subtle, but meaningful ways, making your mark - rather than let any trappings of linear-media get in the way."
gta  immersion  games  gaming  videogames  exploration  worldbuilding  2003  grandtheftauto 
may 2013 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Journal: Video game flâneur
"Rockstar and others have virtually (pun intended) built the digital infrastructure to generate generic large city forms. All they have to do is drape a particular cultural fabric over it, and the architecture, clothes, music, adverts etc. all just fall into place, as defined by a talented new form of 'curator' perhaps. (Hey Rockstar, if you're listening, I'll have that job!).

[Thought about this before, after reading about Gangs of New York and similar potential in films; read also about the way Rockstar design this stuff; about some future potential of Rockstar's city-based games; and Manhattan as muse for video games.]

If it is The Warriors, then just inhabiting a version of NYC in the early 80s would be a blast. One of my favourite near-mythical urban eras, as witnessed in the incredibly flawed but compelling film Downtown 81. I'd struggle to do address any of the usual Rockstar narrative ploys though, instead trying to track down John Zorn, Arto Lindsay & DNA, Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, The Kitchen, James White & The Blacks, Talking Heads, Thurston Moore, Basquiat etc. Materialising in the almost deserted early-80s Lower East Side, I'd probably get my head kicked in anyway (which is standard Rockstar plot device of course)."
gta  danhill  videogames  gaming  archives  exploration  immersion  nyc  cities  flaneur  games  grandtheftauto 
may 2013 by robertogreco
PopTech : Blog : Interview: Cheryl Heller on SVA's new Design for Social Innovation MFA
"Context is critical. Paul Polak talks about this. A solution is not a solution if it doesn’t work for the people for whom it’s intended. To work within any system without causing harm to it, you must see and understand every aspect of it. There is no substitute for immersion and understanding of the context in which you are working.

Creativity is often forgotten in our world, or misjudged. It’s not the same as innovation necessarily. It is a discipline that has application throughout the process of social innovation, and it is one of the most obvious but well-kept secrets that the way to heal organizations or communities is to help them create together.

Process is a beautiful thing. Great designers know how to get stuff done, and they know that it comes after understanding context and applying creativity."
sva  cherylheller  paulpolak  socialinnovation  systems  problemsolving  process  creativity  lcproject  designthinking  organizations  solutions  immersion  understanding  empathy 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Kevin Slavin – Reality Is Plenty, Thanks. « Mobile Monday Amsterdam
"Kevin Slavin closes the final Mobile Monday Amsterdam with an improvised talk about why reality is plenty. And closing the row of bare feet speakers at the event."

[YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o03wWtWASW4 ]
culture  history  games  psychology  mobile  kevinslavin  ar  augmentedreality  reality  2011  momoamsterdam  tv  television  jeanpiaget  extramission  immersion  mimesis  replication  uncannyvalley  information  tamagotchi  perception  senses  piaget  vision  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Technium: Laser-Back Travel
"This method is somewhat contrary to many people's first instincts, which are to immediately get acclimated to the culture in the landing city before proceeding to the hinterlands. Get a sense of what's going on, stock up, size up the joint. Then slowly work up to the more challenging remoter areas. That's reasonable, but not optimal because most big cities around the world are more similar than different.

In Laser-back travel what happens is that you are immediately thrown into the Very Different, the maximum otherness that you will get on this trip. You go from your home to extreme difference almost like the dissolve in a slide show. Bam! Your eyes are wide open. You are on your toes. All ears. And here at the end of the road (but your beginning), your inevitable mistakes are usually cheaper, easier to recover from, and more fun. You take it slower, no matter what country you are in."
travel  tourism  kevinkelly  laser-back  otherness  cultureshock  immersion  vacations  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
If you want to truly engage students, give up the reins - Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Learning
"Harnessing entirely pupil-led, project-based learning in this way isn't easy. But all of this frames learning in more meaningful contexts than the pseudocontexts of your average school textbook or contrived lesson plan, which might cover an area of the curriculum but leave the pupil none the wiser as to how it applies in the real world.

There is a line that haunted me last year: while pupil-led, project-based learning is noble and clearly more engaging than what we do now, there is no time for it in the current system. The implication is that it leads to poorer attainment than the status quo. But attainment at High Tech High, in terms of college admissions, is the same as or better than private schools in the same area."
ewanmcintosh  education  creativity  students  citizenship  ict  prototyping  gevertulley  sugatamitra  ideation  projectbasedlearning  hightechhigh  synthesis  tcsnmy  cv  lcproject  studentdirected  student-led  immersion  designthinking  engagement  schools  change  time  making  doing  problemsolving  criticalthinking  growl  pbl 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Text Patterns: one reader's report [The first comment, from a high school teacher, is a thought I've had many times—does "teaching" a book interrupt the reading process?]
"Rod Dreher…tells a thought-provoking story about the combined effects on a reader, namely him, of (a) an iPad and a (b) sabbatical from blogging: "So, I burrowed in last night to read an hour of [Franzen’s] "Freedom," and ended up staying on the couch for two hours, until I finished the book ... I tried to recall the last time I had finished a novel, or any book (I've always got several going at any given moment). I couldn't. Partly this is because Franzen's novel is such a good read, but I think mostly it's because I was in the habit of stopping whatever I was doing to blog about a compelling insight, or even simply to blog a moving passage of whatever I was reading. It occurred to me this morning that this way of reading worked hard against allowing a narrative to sink its hook into me. I was never able to give myself over completely to the narrative, fictional or non-fictional."
alanjacobs  roddreher  reading  books  blogging  blogsabbaticals  teaching  novels  immersion  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Method designing
"like many designers, I have to immerse myself in cultural context of my work in order to get results. I’ve come to think of this as ‘method designing’, after method acting; way of ‘getting into character’ that consciously & subconsciously informs design process. ...approach might come from fact that, as a designer, I’ve actually spent a lot of time writing, curating & doing strategic work. All...require ability to process vast amounts of data (often media) fairly rapidly & synthesise into some new form—as does designing, or at least the kind done by designers like me. I find it difficult to have a discussion around form & function w/out trying to get at ineffable, intangible aspects of project’s context, for which I’m yet to discover a good word. Raymond Williams’ ‘structure of feeling’ partly does it, & mise-en-scène does to a limited extent, but ‘context’ isn’t quite enough, & doesn’t get at the lived experience & cultural aspects as well as the socio-economic & form-based."
mise-en-scène  structureoffeeling  danhill  cityofsound  design  methoddesigning  methodacting  immersion  cities  helsinki  literature  understanding  howwework  howwelearn  experience  culture  process  tcsnmy  classideas  writing  curating  media  strategy  data  synthesis  context  toshare  topost 
july 2010 by robertogreco
russell davies: not playful
"don't like...these new social, interacting-w/-real-people games...[they're not] bad, just not for me. & I'm not that special, so I bet they don't appeal to some other people...might be worth thinking about. Because...seems to be some consensus that more social = better & I'm not sure that's true...I don't like meeting people I don't [know]. That's why web has been such joy, I've been able to 'meet' people & get to know something of them before I really meet them...Which means I find many of efforts of social & pervasive gamers scary. Werewolf seems to be codification & enforcement of all horrible about dinner party...lots of my favorite games are only slightly social...why I'm drawn towards idea of 'pretending apps' - not about imposing rules, [but] suggesting context...you can play them in your own head...[they're] Social Toys...toys because they're for playing w/, not in...social because they're connected & you can play in a shared context. But it's your play, in your head."
russelldavies  play  pretending  immersion  gamedesign  cv  shyness  web  online  social  socialsoftware  games  toys  2010  allsorts  playful  gaming  interactive  contemplative  imagination  creativity 
april 2010 by robertogreco
GAFFTA – Creative Spaces and Innovation
"Reflecting on role of creative spaces for their innovations, they proposed 3 types of spaces: mindset (brain space), location & work environment (physical space), & network (virtual space). They described how each of these played a pivotal role in facilitating their projects: how the lack of privacy had occasionally fueled tensions between residents but also forced everyone to – literally – listen to other ideas; how the lack of boundaries between work & life had surfaced a growing quest for “meaning” in what you do; how “curiosity, risk-taking, & challenging the status quo” had been the key requirements for a fully immersive experience (& how some of the residents weren’t able to cope with these demands). They stressed that scarcity (space & time limits) had propelled intimacy & urgency & thus increased output intensity, & that in the face of the abundance of information & social connections on the web the experience of face-to-face collaboration had changed their concept of work."
palomar5  space  creativity  tcsnmy  schooldesign  lcproject  coworking  sharing  trust  mindset  virtual  networking  networks  immersion  privacy  work  life  gaffta  innovation 
april 2010 by robertogreco
We Can Play Our Cities Like Instruments - D.U.S. - Design Under Sky
"The city becomes a useful digital playground of information. Cities would be designed to allow for citizen environment manipulation. Controlled from your phone turned remote control, transportation, dinner reservations are queued to your exact needs, a personal ambient soundtrack is sent through airwaves as you walk through the street.
urban  ubicomp  cities  locative  location-based  location-aware  geolocation  ambient  ambientawareness  sound  audio  immersion  landscape  design  experience  vurb 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Audiences experience 'Avatar' blues - CNN.com
"James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora. On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie."
depression  virtualworlds  sadness  pandora  hollywood  culture  future  psychology  media  environment  film  avatar  blues  immersion  movies  3d  health 
january 2010 by robertogreco
A new class of content for a new class of device « Snarkmarket
"the web kinda hates bounded, holis­tic work...likes bits & pieces, cross-references & rec­om­men­da­tions, frag­ments & tabs...loves the fact that you’re read­ing this post in Google Reader...iPad looks to me like a focus machine...such an oppor­tu­nity for sto­ry­telling, & for inno­va­tion around sto­ry­telling...oppor­tu­nity to make the Myst of 2010...con­nect the dots. For all its power & flex­i­bil­ity, the web is really bad at pre­sent­ing bounded, holis­tic work in a focused, immer­sive way. This is why web shows never worked. The web is bad at con­tain­ers...bad at frames... the young Hayao Miyaza­kis & Mark Z. Danielewskis & Edward Goreys of this world ought to be learn­ing Objective-C—or at least mak­ing some new friends. Because this new device gives us the power and flex­i­bil­ity to real­ize a whole new class of crazy vision—and it puts that vision in a frame. ... In five years, the coolest stuff on the iPad should be… jeez, you know, I think it should be art."
design  culture  storytelling  snarkmarket  blogging  journalism  robinsloan  immersion  epub  content  ipad  marketing  attention  future  books  change  multimedia  apple  media  innovation  2010  focus  singletasking  multitasking  epublishing  digitalpublishing  epubs  monotasking 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Flow « Re-educate
"What would it mean to create schools in which one of the explicit goals was to create as many opportunities as possible for students to experience flow? What would that mean for bell schedules, required classes, and standardized tests?
mihalycsikszentmihalyi  flow  lcproject  tcsnmy  schools  learning  immersion  unschooling  deschooling  stevemiranda 
december 2009 by robertogreco
One Hungry Chef: On Going Overboard
"I have something of a habit of going to extremes. Not always. I'm not obsessive. Rather, I'd call it “passing manic episodes.” Now and again an idea will strike me as particularly interesting or challenging and I dive in, as deep as I can. Typically this involves me learning a complicated process so that I might create something which I could easily purchase for a fraction of the price and no effort at all. For example: I've made paper out of native grasses, started fire with flint and steel, fermented my own sourdough starter using organic grapes, built a bicycle, dug up and potted with native clay, woven rope, brewed beer, made baskets from pine needles, sewed a tent, and made ham."
passingmanicepisodes  cooking  food  obsession  dedication  learning  projects  immersion  process 
september 2009 by robertogreco
…My heart’s in Accra » The importance of being a dork
"my blanket prescription for making friends in other countries: Your best chances to connect with people in other cultures...eating, drinking, playing music, dancing, playing football (soccer)...“play with kids”...Are plane tickets the first ingredient in these equations? Do they need to be? I live just north of Pittsfield, MA, a city of fewer than 50,000 people. For years, the city has held an annual Ethnic Fair...My guess is that there’s an opportunity for me to learn something about Brazilian culture beyond enjoying the two Brazilian restaurants that have opened in town. I suspect it involves losing fifty pounds and playing soccer in a local league. Or putting on my best clubbing clothes and hanging out at Latin Night on Saturday at the Ecuadorian restaurant and dance club. I haven’t done either, and I find myself wondering if part of the equation is that I’m more comfortable looking like a dork in Dakar than in Pittsfield."
learning  culture  travel  ethanzuckerman  society  internet  psychology  music  communication  world  glvo  cv  local  immigration  inhibition  myexperience  sports  food  dance  children  immersion 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Dubai and learning about the unknowable - Joi Ito's Web
""Education" and the notion that we actually understand the world causes us to be unprepared for the unpredictable. ... Science, which makes a great attempt at trying to make the world appear predictable, is really a rough approximation of things so that our simple minds can try to grasp the complex world around us. ... part of the reason for my moving to the Middle East was that while I continue to learn in any environment, days that I spend in the US or Japan tend to be mostly similar to previous days & relatively predictable, pushing me towards the somewhat typical mode of feeling in control or knowledgeable about what's going on. ... every day I spend in the Middle East is completely full of surprises & pushes me closer & closer to the understanding that I really don't understand anything. Sort of the pure idiot mode. In a way, I've become more aware & much more mindful of everything. One effect of this is that I less & less fear of the unpredictable & the unknown & unknowable."
joiito  brunolatour  learning  knowledge  understanding  ignorance  humility  unschooling  deschooling  blackswans  tcsnmy  education  nassimtaleb  wisdom  cv  immersion 
february 2009 by robertogreco
George Dyson (science historian) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"When he was sixteen he went to live in British Columbia in Canada to pursue his interest in canoeing and escape his father's shadow. While there he lived in a treehouse at a height of 30 metres."
georgedyson  freemandyson  learning  education  freedom  autodidacts  passion  immersion  alternative  autonomy  unschooling  deschooling 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Games Without Frontiers: 'Grand Theft Auto IV' Delivers Deft Satire of Street Life
"I may never finish the game. In a city this vibrant, it's hard to stop getting distracted. At one point, I finished a mission on top floor of decrepit apartment...started to head back downstairs to my car, then wondered: "Hey, what's up on the roof?"
immersion  games  gaming  gta  clivethompson  nyc  detail  exploration  gamedesign  reviews  simulations  openplay  open-endedplay  grandtheftauto 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Spotlight on DML | Constance Steinkuehler: Digital Montessori for Big Kids
"Virtual worlds are like digital montessori for big kids. Virtual worlds are interest-driven learning environments in which the learner is purposefully surrounded with well chosen and well-designed symbolic and material tools and artifacts. They enable th
virtual  virtualworlds  children  teens  learning  interestdriven  self-directed  immersion  community  interests  technology  education  games  gaming 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Kirai - Un geek en Japón by Héctor García — Aprendiendo un idioma
"Saber o no saber un idioma depende de si realmente te esfuerzas en hablarlo, y para poder hablar te tienes que esforzar en conocer la “cultura” del lugar.''
language  learning  foreign  japanese  japan  english  spanish  español  culture  immersion  conversation 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Hide and Seek Sandpit » Front page
"The Sandpit is a project of Hide and Seek: London’s first pervasive games festival. There are meetings for games in the actual physical world at least once a month, a new ruleset or essay at least once a week, and discussion or pointers to interesting
games  participatory  pervasive  play  gaming  london  immersion  sharing  gamedesign  space  location  location-based 
february 2008 by robertogreco
When Reality Feels Like Playing a Game, a New Era Has Begun
"Our online lives are just twists on the videogame leaderboards, where we jockey to get our blog a higher rank on Technorati and compete to acquire more friend-adds on MySpace than the next guy."
games  gaming  play  cartography  life  pmog  arg  videogames  virtualworlds  immersion  technology  society  experience  culture  pervasive  gamechanging  lifeasgame  puzzles  psychology 
october 2007 by robertogreco
cityofsound: GTA IV
"It would be lovely to move around, and listen to, this New York, though - as I've noted before, the sense of having an imagined New York 'in a box' like this is more than enough for me."
videogames  cities  urban  games  play  design  architecture  virtual  gta  danhill  exploration  immersion  grandtheftauto 
march 2007 by robertogreco

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