robertogreco + listening   236

The Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging – Emergence Magazine
"As we listen and seek to connect, we should remember and honor this difference. At the same time, let us not allow otherness to bar the door to kinship, curiosity, and imagination. There is a bridge. That bridge is made from the gift of our attention. Sometimes attention is focused into science, but mostly it is an opening to the languages of birds in the everyday.

What do we hear in the bird voices of our homes? Every species has a sonic signature, and individuals within species have their own unique voices. In this diversity of acoustic expression are embedded many meanings.

First, the particularities of species, each with its own cadence and tempo. House wren. Bald eagle. Song sparrow. Raven. By noticing and naming, we take the first step into friendship and understanding, crossing the gulf between species. Sound is a particularly powerful connector because it travels through and around barriers, finding us and calling us out of inattention. We walk across town and notice our avian cousins. Kinship and community are no longer just ideas, but are lived, sensual relationships."

...

"With some attention and perhaps the help of a recording device, we can hear the individuality of birds around our homes. But understanding the meanings embedded in these sounds is harder. In the human realm, I can learn the singular voices of people speaking in a foreign tongue, but I’ll completely fail to understand what they say and mean. How much more difficult is the task with creatures separated from us by hundreds of millions of years of evolution.

Yet, attentive bird-listeners hear the edges of meaning. Individuality in bird sounds is not random or accidental; it reveals the personality of each bird. In the society of chickadees, some birds have open and exploratory personalities, others are more careful and precise. The rattle of kingfishers and the wood thrushes’ evening song take on new inflections when birds court and pair. At the nest, we hear information flowing in a stream of sound between mated birds. No two phoebe nestlings beg for food in the same way. When sparrow youngsters babble and practice their songs, they explore acoustic spaces in ways that parallel human speech: improvisational, repetitive, refined by listening to elders. In the trees at dusk, crows warble softly to themselves as they preen. A raven’s call is filled with mocking irony as the bird mimics for its companions the call of a sandhill crane. Parrots laugh, causing those around them to frolic and play. As robins gather on a lawn, a blue jay screams a red-shouldered hawk call, a deception that the bird repeats with great gusto when humans walk under its tree. These are not the dead clankings of machines, nor are they the mere utilitarian grunts of feeding or social tokens of sexual union. These sounds are intricate, layered, responsive, generative, and humorous.

Laboratory studies reveal that bird utterances are imbued with understanding, full of representation, organized by rules, powered by creativity, and shaped by culture and context. Bird sound-making has internal grammatical rules. Their brains learn and innovate. Birds hear and remember nuances of sound, connecting abstract acoustic patterns to the physicality of their ecological and social worlds. They listen to the voices of other species and understand what is meant. Social interaction with kin and neighbors molds the shape of individual sounds and the organization of these parts into a whole.

These scientific studies, valuable as they are in expanding our understanding, have queried bird language in only a handful of species, often with the goal of testing whether specific rules of human grammar also manifest in birds. Thus far, science alone is insufficient to the task of hearing birds. A few dozen experiments conducted by a handful of researchers will not open the ears of the human species to the voices of our cousins. Language-learning is for everyone.

When we understand the meanings of a sound made by a bird, nerves in two different brains touch and signal. The link between nerve cells is made from vibrating air, a connection as strong and real as the chemical links among nerves in a single brain. Bird sounds, then, are sonic neurotransmitters that leap across species boundaries.

When we understand the meanings of a sound made by a bird, nerves in two different brains touch and signal."
birds  sound  listening  multispecies  morethanhuman  2019  language  nature  davidhaskell  understanding  intelligence  biology  communication  wildlife  meaning  kinship 
7 days ago by robertogreco
0675 – being smart vs being kind - 1,000,000 words by @visakanv
"When I was a child, I was told that I was smart. I wasn’t great at socializing, but I was alright. I was the class clown, the smartass, so I did have some friends. But I never really developed the deep, lasting sort of friendships that some people have for life. Sometimes I felt like I was missing out, but most of the time – even now – I think of it as, ‘that’s just what life is like for misfits’. There’s good and bad, and that’s the ‘bad’. The price you pay.

It took me two decades to really begin to aspire to be kind.

What’s so good about being smart?

1. There is a certain intrinsic pleasure to knowing things. Richard Feynman describes this beautifully in “the pleasure of finding things out”. (He was also a very kind person, I believe.)

2. There’s a practical value to it. Smartness is generally correlated with making good decisions that lead to superior outcomes. (It’s necessary but insufficient – smartness is the sharpness of the knife. You still need to handle the knife well, and apply it to the right things. Lots of smart people obsessively sharpen their knives but don’t use it for anything useful or constructive.)

If you’re smart, in the conventional sense, you should recognize opportunities (in my view this requires sensitivity, in the ‘perceptive’ sense) and take advantage of them (in my view this requires strength, in the ‘executive’ sense). You should also spot potholes and avoid them. (Spotting the pothole is perception. Avoiding it is execution. Smartness is the gap between seeing and doing – smartness is orienting and deciding, maybe.)

3. There’s also a social aspect to smartness. I’m not saying that smartness guarantees social success (though I do believe that if you’re truly smart rather than superficially smart, you’ll figure out how to achieve your social desires and/or modulate them appropriately). What I mean is that there’s a sort of global subculture that venerates smartness. Think of all the tropes of trickster type characters, and how people love brilliant assholes like Tony Stark and Dr. House. If you’re smart, you can satisfy quite a lot of your social needs by scoring points with smartness geeks.

The smartness-as-spectator-sport trap

Here’s where it gets a little dicey – winning friends in most smartness tribes – their approval requires being right. It requires Winning. I’m talking about smartness as a contact sport for spectators. You get rewarded for the most brutal takedowns (“Liberal DESTROYED conservative with simple argument, leaves him SPEECHLESS!”)

When you start to get addicted to winning, you start to get attached. You start to avoid certain things – particularly areas that you’re not so sure about. You start picking your battles according to what’s winnable, rather than what’s most interesting or useful.

This is where we get to what separates the pros from the noobs. The smartest people embrace their ignorance. They are intimately familiar with the limitations of their models, and they are excited when they discover that they’re wrong about something. (I recall this book about physics – “Time, Space and Things” – where the author would spend paragraphs explaining the imperfections of all the models he was about to show us. It was lovely.)

Where does kindness enter the picture? Kindness nourishes (not coddles) fragile things and makes them strong

I find myself thinking about Pixar’s Braintrust. It’s a sort of council of storytellers who provide advice and counsel to whoever’s working on a story. They understand that ideas in their formative stages are precious, fragile things, like babies. You can’t shake them too hard at the start, or they’ll die. You need to nourish them and let them flourish first. You need to ask lots of exploratory questions with good-faith, rather than cross-examine them looking for flaws and mistakes. Once it’s found its legs, THEN you can start to challenge it, spar with it, and it’ll grow stronger as a result.

When I was younger, I truly believed that the best way to learn and grow and progress was to subject everything to relentless scrutiny. To debate, argue, attack from all sides. I still believe that that can be true in some cases, and that individuals who are deeply committed to learning and intellectual development can benefit tremendously from welcoming such behavior. Inviting criticisms and takedowns. Soliciting negative feedback.

BUT, I’ve also grown to learn that there’s this whole other side to the picture. What you see is NOT all there is. There’s a lot that you haven’t seen, that you can’t see – and if you saw it with an open mind, you’d almost definitely revise your model of reality.

In the past, I used to argue violently with everything and everyone. Not in a vicious way, just in a high-contact way. It was a sport, it was a way of life. With every fight, I was learning. (On retrospect, I was often just learning how to fight better, or to pick fights where I’d have a higher probability of winning, but that seemed like progress at the time.)

I lost some friends along the way, which I was sad about. But I usually found a way to live with it – mostly by convincing myself that they had in some way been too sensitive.

I had a Kurt Cobain quote in mind – “Better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you’re not”. It seemed radically profound at the time, but on retrospect that’s entire oversimplistic thinking. We have more than two options. (Also, I’m now the same age Kurt Cobain was when he died, and next year I’ll be older than he’ll ever be. Just a thought.)

Here’s what you miss if you’re unkind or non-kind: people opening up to you in private.

A lot of the most interesting information in the world is locked up inside other people’s heads.

If you care about having an interesting life, you have to care about winning over other people – so that you can access that information. If you really want to be smart, you’re going to have to tap into people’s perspectives, insights, questions and so on. You can’t learn it all from books and essays – because there’s a lot of “living knowledge” that never makes it into those things.

People only started opening up to me in private in the last 3-5 years or so, and it’s completely changed my life. I mean, I did have conversations with a handful of close-ish friends a decade ago, but now I have people actively coming to me and telling me things that they wouldn’t dare say publicly. And that’s some very powerful, very interesting stuff. It’s great at many levels. And it’s a very beautiful feeling to be that person that earns other people’s trust.

Just to wrap up – it’s possible to be both smart and kind, obviously. That’s the end goal. Being smart doesn’t mean you’re going to be kind, not-kind or unkind. Being kind doesn’t mean you’re going to be smart, not-smart or stupid.

What I’m saying is – there’s definitely a subset of smart people (and people who aspire to smartness) who think that being kind is unnecessary, or tedious, or for pussies, and so on. And I think that’s extremely unfortunate. Your intelligence gets enriched by kindness. That’s the case I’m making here."
visakanveerasamy  smartness  kindness  directives  intelligence  interestedness  listening  kurtcobain  learning  howwelearn  canon  winning  competition  spectators  action  activism  theory  richardfeynman  knowitalls  social  relationships  grace  reality  argument  2017 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Landscape Circuitry – Nick Sowers Architecture
"What happens when you wire up parts of a landscape and amplify its own remixed sounds? This is the next iteration of my series with SEAP : Sonorous Environment Amplification Panel. I have set up this four channel audio installation on the edge of Seaplane Lagoon on the former Naval Air Station in Alameda to explore the sonic textures in magnified detail.

Through live amplification of sounds picked up by a variety of microphones (contact, omnidirectional, shotgun, and hydrophone) I am able to reveal elements of the landscape which may otherwise go unnoticed. The sounds of birds, waves, pebbles, electricity, and wind through a security fence travel through the wires and merge digitally before being projected through the acrylic sound panel.

Even the more visible and audible parts which pass through such as Southwest jets taking off from nearby Oakland Airport are filtered through the sound installation, mixing and resonating with bird sounds and howling wind. We can hear all of this without augmentation, yet the ability to turn the dial up or down on certain sounds gives the observer a new form of participation in the landscape.

The forms of participation enabled by SEAP can be unexpected. One thing that surprised me is how the slight delay between the sounds initially heard and the sounds played back through amplification immediately creates a new atmosphere. The delay is like what you hear in a hard concrete alley, your own footsteps bouncing back to you in a kind of pangy-hollow sound. But you wouldn’t expect to find that echo effect in an open landscape. When a security guard pulled up to ask me what I was doing, his own voice was thrown back to him. He seemed satisfied with my description “Just testing out an art installation” and drove away.

Another unexpected sound comes from this security fence blocking access to the breakwater. I wired up a contact microphone to the galvanized steel post supporting the fence. The wind which slips through the fence is not audible to the naked ear, yet the metal absorbs the sound and can be amplified and mixed in with the rest of the environment. Listen:

In the recording you’ll hear the sounds of birds picked up by this omnidirectional microphone aimed down into the rocks. Crevices contain their own little sonic worlds. The space between rocks shelters a bowl of stiller air. In this placement, the microphone avoids clipping from wind. Tinier sounds like pebbles trickling down and birds whose calls would otherwise be drowned out are easily picked up.

I found myself thinking about artist Jenny Odell‘s practice of observation at the Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses in Oakland, about how this place on the fringes of a former Navy base could be my rose garden. From the perspective of an architect, I’m not doing anything here. I’m not analyzing a site as a precursor to making a building. Yet I am doing more than bird watching or walking or fishing– all fine activities for absorbing the nuances of a place and experiencing the passage of time. SEAP is an evolution of the many years I have walked landscapes and recorded sounds. Now I have an apparatus with which to gauge the subtle textures of a soundscape and add my own interpretation back into it. I expect to return to Seaplane Lagoon with an ever evolving set of processes to fold in between the processes of erosion and construction."
nicksowers  sound  audio  landscape  listening  2019  microphones  jennyodell  oakland  morethanhuman  recording 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Magic and the Machine — Emergence Magazine
"Indeed, it is only when a traditionally oral culture becomes literate that the land seems to fall silent. Only as our senses transferred their animating magic to the written word did the other animals fall dumb, the trees and rocks become mute. For, to learn this new magic, we had to break the spontaneous participation of our eyes and ears in the enfolding terrain in order to recouple those senses with the flat surface of the page. I remember well, in first grade, the intensity with which I had to train my listening ears and my visual focus upon the letters in order to make each letter trigger a specific sound made by my mouth, such that now whenever I see the letter K, I instantly hear “kah” in my mind’s ear, and whenever I see an M, I hear “mmm.” If my ancestors once engaged in animistic participation with bent twigs, animal tracks, cliff-faces, and cloud shapes, I learned an analogous participation with the letter shapes upon the page. But notice: while a thundercloud or a raven might utter strange sounds and communicate strange sensations, the written letters always speak with a human tongue.

Hence, far from enacting a clear break with animism, alphabetic literacy can be recognized as a particularly potent form of animism, one which shifts the locus of magic—or meaning—away from our interactions with the more-than-human surroundings to the relation between ourselves and our own signs. Only as alphabetic literacy comes into a previously oral culture (often through Christian missionaries teaching how to read the Good Book) does that culture get the curious idea that language is an exclusively human property. The living land is no longer felt to hold and utter forth its own manifold meanings; the surrounding earth soon comes to be viewed as a mostly passive background upon which human history unfolds."




"For animism—the instinctive experience of reciprocity or exchange between the perceiver and the perceived—lies at the heart of all human perception. While such participatory experience may be displaced by our engagement with particular tools and technologies, it can never entirely be dispelled. Rather, different technologies tend to capture and channel our instinctive, animistic proclivities in particular ways."



"Despite the flimsy gesture toward a kind of magical reality, the fact is that we’re still speaking only to ourselves, to things that we have programmed to talk back to us. And so, after the initial novelty, which maybe lasts about twenty minutes, there’s nothing here that can surprise us, or yield a sense that we’re in communication with beings strangely different from ourselves."



"And maybe this attempt to recreate that primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world will actually succeed. Certainly it’s giving rise to all sorts of fascinating gizmos and whimsical inventions. But it’s also bound to disappoint. The difficult magic of animistic perception, the utter weirdness and dark wonder that lives in any deeply place-based relation to the earth, is the felt sense of being in contact with wakeful forms of sentience that are richly different from one’s own—the experience of interaction with intelligences that are radically other from one’s own human style of intelligence. Yet when interacting with the smart objects that inhabit the always-online world of the internet of things, well, there’s no real otherness there. Of course, there’s the quasi-otherness of the program designers, and of the other people living their own wired lives; although just how other anybody will be when we’re all deploying various forms of the same software (and so all thinking by means of the same preprogrammed algorithms) is an open question. My point, however, is that there’s no radical otherness involved: it’s all humanly programmed, and it’s inhabited by us humans and our own humanly-built artifacts; it’s all basically a big extension of the human nervous system. As we enter more deeply into the world of ubiquitous computing, we increasingly seal ourselves into an exclusively human zone of interaction. We enter into a bizarre kind of intraspecies incest."



"Yet it’s the alterity or otherness of things—the weirdly different awareness of a humpback whale sounding its eerie glissandos through the depths, or an orb-weaver spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; or the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest, dank with mushrooms and bracket fungi, humming with insects and haunted by owls—it’s the wild, more-than-human otherness of these powers that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic, a trancelike negotiation between outrageously divergent worlds.

Without such radical otherness, there’s no magic. Wandering around inside a huge extension of our own nervous system is not likely to bring a renewal of creaturely wonder, or a recovery of ancestral capacities. It may keep us fascinated for a time but also vaguely unsatisfied and so always thirsty for the next invention, the next gadget that might finally satisfy our craving, might assuage our vague sense that something momentous is missing. Except it won’t."



"Western navigators, long reliant on a large array of instruments, remain astonished by the ability of traditional seafaring peoples to find their way across the broad ocean by sensing subtle changes in the ocean currents, by tasting the wind and reading the weather, by conversing with the patterns in the night sky. Similarly, many bookish persons find themselves flummoxed by the ease with which citizens of traditionally oral, place-based cultures seem always to know where they are—their capacity to find their way even through dense forests without obvious landmarks—an innate orienting ability that arises when on intimate terms with the ground, with the plants, with the cycles of sun, moon, and stars. GPS seems to replicate this innate and fairly magical capacity, but instead of this knowledge arising from our bodily interchange with the earthly cosmos, here the knowledge arrives as a disembodied calculation by a complex of orbiting and ground-based computers."



"There is nothing “extra-sensory” about this kind of earthly clairvoyance. Rather, sensory perception functions here as a kind of glue, binding one’s individual nervous system into the larger ecosystem. When our animal senses are all awake, our skin rippling with sensations as we palpate the surroundings with ears and eyes and flaring nostrils, it sometimes happens that our body becomes part of the larger Body of the land—that our sensate flesh is taken up within the wider Flesh of the breathing Earth—and so we begin to glimpse events unfolding at other locations within the broad Body of the land. In hunting and gathering communities, individuals are apprenticed to the intricate life of the local earth from an early age, and in the absence of firearms, hunters often depend upon this richly sensorial, synaesthetic clairvoyance for regular success in the hunt. The smartphone replicates something of this old, ancestral experience of earthly acumen that has long been central to our species: the sense of being situated over Here, while knowing what’s going on over There."



"And so we remain transfixed by these tools, searching in and through our digital engagements for an encounter they seem to promise yet never really provide: the consummate encounter with otherness, with radical alterity, with styles of sensibility and intelligence that thoroughly exceed the limits of our own sentience. Yet there’s the paradox: for the more we engage these remarkable tools, the less available we are for any actual contact outside the purely human estate. In truth, the more we participate with these astonishing technologies, the more we seal ourselves into an exclusively human cocoon, and the more our animal senses—themselves co-evolved with the winds, the waters, and the many-voiced terrain—are blunted, rendering us ever more blind, ever more deaf, ever more impervious to the more-than-human Earth.

Which brings us, finally, back to our initial question: What is the primary relation, if there is any actual relation, between the two contrasting collective moods currently circulating through contemporary society—between the upbeat technological optimism coursing through many social circles and the mood of ecological despondency and grief that so many other persons seem to be feeling? As a writer who uses digital technology, I can affirm that these tools are enabling many useful, astounding, and even magical possibilities. But all this virtual magic is taking a steep toll. For many long years this techno-wizardry has been blunting our creaturely senses, interrupting the instinctive rapport between our senses and the earthly sensuous. It’s been short-circuiting the spontaneous reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain, disrupting the very attunement that keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our locale—the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth. Today, caught up in our fascination with countless screen-fitted gadgets, we’re far more aloof from the life of the land around us, and hence much less likely to notice the steady plundering of these woodlands and wetlands, the choking of the winds and the waters by the noxious by-products of the many industries we now rely on. As these insults to the elemental earth pile up—as the waters are rendered lifeless by more chemical runoff, by more oil spills, by giant patches of plastic rotating in huge gyres; as more glaciers melt and more forests succumb to the stresses of a destabilized climate—the sensorial world of our carnal experience is increasingly filled with horrific wounds, wounds that we feel in our flesh whenever we dare to taste the world with our creaturely senses. It’s too damned painful. Hence … [more]
animism  davidabram  technology  language  alphabet  writing  oraltradition  secondaryorality  smarthphones  gps  multispecies  morethanhuman  canon  literacy  listening  multisensory  senses  noticing  nature  intuition  alterity  otherness  object  animals  wildlife  plants  rocks  life  living  instinct  internet  web  online  maps  mapping  orientation  cities  sound  smell  texture  touch  humans  smartdevices  smarthomes  internetofthings  perception  virtuality  physical 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Charles Louis Richter on Twitter: "The Keanu Reeves Three-fold Path: Bill & Ted: Be excellent to one another. The Matrix: Step out of your worldview and listen to those doing the work toward revolution. John Wick: Destroy those who delight in cruelty."
"The Keanu Reeves Three-fold Path:

Bill & Ted: Be excellent to one another.

The Matrix: Step out of your worldview and listen to those doing the work toward revolution.

John Wick: Destroy those who delight in cruelty.

Can't argue with this fourth aspect of the Path:
https://twitter.com/DrewGROF/status/1129416727987728384

"Speed: do not engage bad faith actors on their terms.""

[Also:
https://twitter.com/misslaneym/status/1127281519951863809

"Keanu Reeves gives the right answer to an impossible question."

video:

Stephen Colbert: "What do you think happens when we die, Keanu Reeves."

Keanu Reeves: "I know that the ones who love us will miss us."]
keanureeves  2019  life  living  wisdom  listening  cruelty  death  dying  stephencolbert  kindness  revolution  mindchanging  change  systemschange 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Teju Cole — Sitting Together in the Dark - The On Being Project
"Writer and photographer Teju Cole says he is “intrigued by the continuity of places, by the singing line that connects them all.” He attends to the border, overlap and interplay of things — from Brahms and Baldwin to daily technologies like Google. To delve into his mind and his multiple arts is to meet this world with creative raw materials for enduring truth and quiet hope."



"I’m going to go back to a word I used earlier, which is how much help we need. We sometimes think of culture as something we go out there and consume. And this especially happens around clever people, smart people — “Have you read this? Did you check out that review? Do you know this poet? What about this other poet?” Blah blah blah. And we have these checkmarks — “I read 50 books last year” — and everybody wants to be smart and keep up. I find that I’m less and less interested in that, and more and more interested in what can help me and what can jolt me awake. Very often, what can jolt me awake is stuff that is written not for noonday but for the middle of the night. And that has to do with — again, with the concentration of energies in it.

Tomas Tranströmer, the Swedish poet, who died — can’t remember; maybe 2013 he died. He seemed to have unusual access to this membrane between this world and some other world that, as Paul Éluard said, is also in this one. Tranströmer, in his poetry, keeps slipping into that space.

In any case, I just found his work precisely the kind of thing I wanted to read in the silence of the middle of the night and feel myself escaping my body in a way that I become pure spirit, in a way. I remember when he won the Nobel Prize, which was in 2011. We live in an age of opinion, and people always have opinions, especially about things they know nothing about. So people who were hearing about Tranströmer for the first time that morning were very grandly opining that his collected works come to maybe 250 pages, that how could he possibly get the Nobel Prize for that slender body of work? — which, of course, was missing the fact that each of these pages was a searing of the consciousness that was only achieved at by great struggle. I think the best thing to compare him to is the great Japanese poets of haiku, like Kobayashi or Basho."



"But I wrote this today, and — for a long time now, but very definitely since January 1 of this year, I’ve been thinking about hospitality, because I wanted a container for some things I didn’t know where to put about the present moment. Who’s kin? Who’s family? Who’s in, who’s out? And just thinking this whole year about the question of hospitality has given me a way to read a lot of things that are very distressing, in this country and in the world, around the border but also around domestic policy. So this one goes against the grain, but I needed to put it down.

“The extraordinary courage of Lassana Bathily, an immigrant from Mali, saved six lives during a terrorist attack at a kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes in 2015. He was rewarded with French citizenship by the French president, François Hollande.

“But this is not a story about courage.

“The superhuman agility and bravery of Mamadou Gassama, an immigrant from Mali, saved a baby from death in the 18th Arrondissement in May 2018. He was rewarded with French citizenship by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

“But this is not a story about bravery.

“The superhuman is rewarded with formal status as a human. The merely human, meanwhile, remains unhuman, quasi-human, subhuman. Gassama crossed the Mediterranean in a tiny boat — that was superhuman, but no one filmed that, he remained subhuman, and there was no reward.

“Such is Empire’s magnanimity. Merci, patron. Je suis tellement reconnaissant, patron.

“The hand that gives, it is said in Mali, is always above the hand that receives. Those who are hungry cannot reject food. Not only those who are hungry but those who have been deliberately starved. But soon come the day when the Hebrews will revolt and once and for all refuse Pharaoh’s capricious largesse.

Hospitality.”

Because I wanted to think about this beyond what seemed, to me, too easy — the headlines, the gratitude — “Oh, he was heroic. He was like Spiderman, and the French government did a great thing and made him a citizen.”

How did we get here? Why is this enough? How did we get into the position where he kneels down to receive the crumbs?

If I were still on Twitter and I wrote that, I might get cancelled. You get cancelled when you’re out of step with the general opinion."



"I just find that anything really loud and hectic can just last for a moment, but it does not get to that deepest place, that place of self-recognition, which becomes indistinguishable from other-recognition, which is continuous with world-recognition. So I’m attracted, in all the arts, to those places where something has been quietened, where concentration has been established. I think one of the great artistic questions for any practitioner of art is, how do you help other people concentrate on a moment? This photograph, it’s a frontal portrait of a young woman, but it’s not a posed portrait. She’s in a crowd, and he has photographed her. She’s African-American, but her skin is dark, and he has made it darker still in the way he has printed it so that your first thought is, “Oh, could we lighten that a little bit?” And then you think, “No — no, no, no. Why am I feeling this way about this image?” In all the arts, there are those moments that are as though somebody has made the gesture of raising a palm, which is not a stop sign, but a — ”Attend, hush, listen.”

I think those are the moments we really live for in art, the moment where the artfulness falls away, and all that is left is that thing we don’t have a better word for beyond poetry."



"This is going to be my worst misquotation of the evening. But Toni Morrison talks about — we die, and that may be the — does anybody know it? — that may be the length of our lives or span of our lives; but we do language, and that may be the meaning of our lives — something in that direction. And I think it is somewhere in there. A frank confrontation with the facts is that between two cosmic immensities of time, you are born, you flare up for a moment, and you’re gone. And within two generations, everybody who knew you personally will also be dead. Your name might survive, but who cares? Nobody’s going to remember your little habits or who you were. So one meaning of our lives might be that we die.

But then the other is this other thing that has nothing to do with the noise out there — advertising, arguing on social media, which we all can get tempted into — or even our personal disputes or even our anxieties, even our struggles — but some other thing that is like this undertow that connects us to everyone currently alive and everyone that has lived and everyone that will live. So I think there’s just the stark, existential fact. It’s not fashionable to take up labels or whatever, but on some level, I’m sort of an existentialist. I don’t think it necessarily has a grander meaning. I certainly don’t believe that God has a wonderful plan to make it all OK. I used to. I don’t believe that anymore. You die; I don’t know what happens. I talk to my dead; I don’t know if they’re anywhere. You die, and it hurts people who love you.

But then, the other thing is that if there’s no grander, larger meaning, in real time there does seem to be a grand and large meaning. Right this minute, this does seem to be something that is real, that might not be meaning but comes awfully close to it: to be sitting together in the dark of this political and social moment, to be sitting together in the dark of what it actually means to be a human being, even if this were a euphoric political moment.

So there’s the grim view of, we’re not here for very long, and LOL no one cares, and then there’s the other thing, which is when your favorite song gets to that part that you love, and you just feel something; or when you’ve had a series of crappy meals and then finally, you get a well-spiced, balanced goat biryani — you know, when the spices are really fresh? Black pepper — a lot of people get black pepper wrong. Really fresh black pepper — and you have this moment.

So these moments of pleasure, of epiphany, of focus, of being there, in their instantaneous way can actually feel like a little nudge that’s telling you, “By the way, this is why you’re alive. And this is not going to last, but never mind that for now.” It happens in art, and it happens in friendship, and it happens in food, and it happens in sex, and it happens in a long walk, and it happens in being immersed in a body of water — baptism, once again — and it happens in running and endorphins and all those moments that psychologists describe as “flow.”

But what is interesting about them is that they happen in real time. As Seamus Heaney says, “Useless to think you’ll park and capture it / More thoroughly. You are […] / A hurry through which known and strange things pass.”

You’re just a conduit for that. But if you are paying attention, it’s almost — I’m not sure if it’s enough, but it’s almost enough. I’m certainly glad for it. I’d rather have it than not have it.

What do you think?"
tejucole  stillness  2019  truth  hope  interconnected  jamesbaldwin  brahms  place  borders  interstitial  tomastranströmer  smartness  reading  poetry  wokeness  kin  family  families  hospitality  photography  art  silence  quietness  listening  donaldtrump  barackobama  howwewrite  howweread  writing  tonimorrison  socialmedia  noise  meaning  seamusheaney  fear  future  optimism  johnberger  rebeccasolnit  virginiawoolf  hopelessness  kalamazoo  pauléluard  primolevi  instagram  twitter 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Laurel Schwulst, "Blogging in Motion" - YouTube
"This video was originally published as part of peer-to-peer-web.com's NYC lecture series on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at the at the School for Poetic Computation.

It has been posted here for ease of access.

You can find many other great talks on the site:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com

And specifically more from the NYC series:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com/nyc "

[See also:
https://www.are.na/laurel-schwulst/blogging-in-motion ]
laurelschwulst  2019  decentralization  p2p  web  webdesign  blogging  movement  travel  listening  attention  self-reflection  howwewrite  writing  walking  nyc  beakerbrowser  creativity  pokemon  pokemonmoon  online  offline  internet  decentralizedweb  dat  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  distributed  webdev  stillness  infooverload  ubiquitous  computing  internetofthings  casygollan  calm  calmtechnology  zoominginandout  electricity  technology  copying  slow  small  johnseelybrown  markweiser  xeroxparc  sharing  oulipo  constraints  reflection  play  ritual  artleisure  leisurearts  leisure  blogs  trains  kylemock  correspondence  caseygollan  apatternlanguage  intimacy 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem | Literary Hub
"Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. “Unhappy the land that needs heroes” is a line of Bertold Brecht’s I’ve gone to dozens of times, but now I’m more inclined to think, pity the land that thinks it needs a hero, or doesn’t know it has lots and what they look like."



"William James said of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, “Surely the cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their character of loneliness.” That is, if I lose my home, I’m cast out among those who remain comfortable, but if we all lose our homes in the earthquake, we’re in this together. One of my favorite sentences from a 1906 survivor is this: “Then when the dynamite explosions were making the night noisy and keeping everybody awake and anxious, the girls or some of the refugees would start playing the piano, and Billy Delaney and other folks would start singing; so that the place became quite homey and sociable, considering it was on the sidewalk, outside the high school, and the town all around it was on fire.”

I don’t know what Billy Delaney or the girls sang, or what stories the oat gatherers Le Guin writes about might have told. But I do have a metaphor, which is itself a kind of carrier bag and metaphor literally means to carry something beyond, carrying being the basic thing language does, language being great nets we weave to hold meaning. Jonathan Jones, an indigenous Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi Australian artist, has an installation—a great infinity-loop figure eight of feathered objects on a curving wall in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane that mimics a murmuration, one of those great flocks of birds in flight that seems to swell and contract and shift as the myriad individual creatures climb and bank and turn together, not crashing into each other, not drifting apart.

From a distance Jones’s objects look like birds; up close they are traditional tools of stick and stone with feathers attached, tools of making taking flight. The feathers were given to him by hundreds who responded to the call he put out, a murmuration of gatherers. “I’m interested in this idea of collective thinking,” he told a journalist. “How the formation of really beautiful patterns and arrangements in the sky can help us potentially start to understand how we exist in this country, how we operate together, how we can all call ourselves Australians. That we all have our own little ideas which can somehow come together to make something bigger.”

What are human murmurations, I wondered? They are, speaking of choruses, in Horton Hears a Who, the tiny Whos of Whoville, who find that if every last one of them raises their voice, they become loud enough to save their home. They are a million and a half young people across the globe on March 15 protesting climate change, coalitions led by Native people holding back fossil fuel pipelines across Canada, the lawyers and others who converged on airports all over the US on January 29, 2017, to protest the Muslim ban.

They are the hundreds who turned out in Victoria, BC, to protect a mosque there during Friday prayers the week after the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. My cousin Jessica was one of them, and she wrote about how deeply moving it was for her, “At the end, when prayers were over, and the mosque was emptying onto the street, if felt like a wedding, a celebration of love and joy. We all shook hands and hugged and spoke kindly to each other—Muslim, Jew, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist…” We don’t have enough art to make us see and prize these human murmurations even when they are all around us, even when they are doing the most important work on earth."
rebeccasolnit  heroes  change  democracy  collectivism  multitudes  2019  robertmueller  gretathunberg  society  movements  murmurations  relationships  connection  femininity  masculinity  leadership  patience  negotiation  listening  strategy  planning  storytelling  bertoldbrecht  violence  attention  ursulaleguin  williamjames  1906  sanfrancisco  loneliness  comfort  billdelaney  jonathanjones  art  humans  humanism  scale  activism  action 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
‘Liz Was a Diehard Conservative’ - POLITICO Magazine
"Warren herself says that in her early academic work she was merely following the dominant theory of the time, which emphasized the efficiency of free markets and unrestrained businesses, rather than holding strong conservative beliefs herself. Still, she acknowledged in our interview that she underwent a profound change in how she viewed public policy early in her academic career, describing the experience as “worse than disillusionment” and “like being shocked at a deep-down level.”

Her conversion was ideological before it turned partisan. The first shift came in the mid-’80s, as she traveled to bankruptcy courts across the country to review thousands of individual cases—a departure from the more theoretical academic approach—and saw that Americans filing for bankruptcy more closely resembled her own family, who struggled financially, rather than the irresponsible deadbeats she had expected.

It wasn’t until Warren was recruited onto a federal commission to help reform the bankruptcy code in the mid-1990s—and then fought for those reforms and lost that battle in 2005—that she became the unapologetic partisan brawler she was in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, serving in the Senate and, now, stumping on the 2020 campaign trail. “I realize nonpartisan just isn’t working,” she recalls of that second conversion moment. “By then it’s clear: The only allies I have are in the Democratic Party, and it’s not even the majority of Democrats.”

Some friends and colleagues say Warren became radicalized, equating her change to a religious experience, to being born again. “She really did have a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion when she saw the bankrupt consumers really were suffering—forced into bankruptcy by illness, firing or divorce—and not predators,” Johnson says. Other friends argue Warren’s shift has been more gradual, and that she is not the extremist her opponents have sought to portray her as. “It drives me crazy when she’s described as a radical left-winger. She moved from being moderately conservative to being moderately liberal,” says Warren’s co-author and longtime collaborator Jay Westbrook. “When you look at consumer debt and what happens to consumers in America, you begin to think the capitalist machine is out of line.”"



"What Warren’s Republican history means for her presidential prospects remains unclear. There’s a version of this story in which her politically mixed background makes her the ideal candidate to capture not just the the American left but also the center—a pugilistic populist vowing to take on corporations, a policy-savvy reformer who believes that markets are essential to the economy.

But that’s not the political landscape of 2019. Warren’s tough stance during the financial crisis got her tagged by Republicans and many Democrats as more Harvard liberal than an up-by-the-bootstraps working mom from Oklahoma. And her work on the CFPB alienated much of the financial services industry. Meanwhile, much of the left wing of the Democratic Party, for which she was the banner-carrier after the financial crisis, has found a new champion in the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. And members of the growing Democratic Socialists of America and the hosts of the popular leftist podcast Chapo Trap House have criticized Warren for her adherence to capitalism. As of this writing, she is generally polling fifth in the Democratic field, and her 2020 fundraising has fallen short of several other rivals’.

With some in the Democratic Party demanding purity, perhaps Warren thinks going back through her Republican history could hurt her. When I suggested near the end of our interview that she might consider talking more about that part of her biography, and her conversion, she was politely noncommittal.

“Sure, sure,” she said, before quickly pivoting back to another question."

[See also: https://twitter.com/siddhmi/status/1120023080477298693

"A very good read. Warren's story is such a profound American story, and a very deep story about how ideology works, and what it takes to get free.

This is how you get free: You do the work, and embrace the learning.
Warren’s academic career soon took a turn that made her far less comfortable with unfettered free markets. Prompted in part by a surge in personal bankruptcy filings following the passage of new bankruptcy laws in 1978, Warren, Sullivan and Westbrook in 1982 decided to study bankruptcy in a way that was then considered novel in academia: by digging into the anecdotal evidence of individual filings and traveling to bankruptcy courts across the country, often rolling a small copy machine through airports along the way.

Whatever their take on "capitalism" or "socialism," I'm here for leaders who understand how American capitalism in its current form (since the late 1970s; "neoliberalism") has completely failed—both morally and technically.

In the presidential field, there are exactly two.

The intellectual damage of the 1980s is intense. It's immensely to Warren's credit that, as a young woman untenured professor then, she realized—through fieldwork—that she could not in conscience enforce the ideology.

And everyone who went to elite colleges in the US in the 1980s needs to be scrutinized. I remember intro economics in 1985-86. Martin Feldstein preaching the catechism to 1,000 young minds in Sanders Theatre. Midterms where you "proved" why rent control was bad. Deadweight loss!

Three years later those young minds were lining up for "recruiting" as Goldman, Morgan, McKinsey et al swarmed the campus to usher them into the golden cage. This shit happened quickly, people. It's a wonder anyone escaped.

People shaped in the 1990s, with the neoliberal foundation cushioned by Clintonite anesthesia, post-Cold War complacency, and the mystical arrival of the internet, are no better. Probably need even more deprogramming. That's why the arrival of the AOC generation is SUCH A RELIEF."

https://twitter.com/NYCJulieNYC/status/1120080930658557952
"Not everyone. A lot of college students in the 1980s were committed activists, from those involved in Divestment from Apartheid South Africa to ACT UP to activism against US policy in Central America."

https://twitter.com/siddhmi/status/1120081603403898886
"Indeed. I was one of them! But that doesn't mean we didn't get coated in the zeitgeist. We all need periodic cleansing."]
elizabethwarren  mindchanging  politics  research  listening  2019  berniesanders  siddharthamitter  billclinton  1990s  1980s  ronaldreagan  economics  martinfeldstein  neoliberalism  2000s  us  policy  bankruptcy  academia  jaywestbrook  highered  highereducation  ideology  fieldwork  rentcontrol  regulation  consumerprotection  democrats  republicans  finance  cfpb  banking  markets 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
The UX design case of closed captions for everyone // Sebastian Greger
"Are video subtitles really chiefly for users who cannot hear or lack an audio device? A recent Twitter thread on “closed captions for the hearing” triggered a brief qualitative exploration and thought experiment – there may well be a growing group of users being forgotten in the design of closed captions.

Most commonly perceived as an auxiliary means for the hearing impaired, video subtitles, a.k.a. closed captions (CC), have only recently started to be widely considered as an affordance for users in situations with no audio available/possible (think mobile devices in public settings, libraries, shared office spaces); the latter to the extend that contemporary “social media marketing guidelines” strongly recommend subtitling video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter et al.

So: subtitles are for those who cannot hear, or with muted devices?

Who else uses closed captions?

I’m personally a great fan of closed captions, for various reasons unrelated to either of the above, and have often noticed certain limitations in their design. Hence, the user researcher inside me just did a somersault as I randomly encountered a Twitter thread [https://twitter.com/jkottke/status/1091338252475396097 ] following Jason Kottke asking his 247.000 followers:
After seeing several photos my (English-speaking, non-deaf) friends have taken of their TV screens over the past week, I’m realizing that many of you watch TV with closed captions (or subtitles) on?! Is this a thing? And if so, why?

The 150+ replies (I guess this qualifies as a reasonable sample for a qualitative analysis of sorts?) are a wonderful example of “accessibility features” benefiting everybody (I wrote about another instance recently [https://sebastiangreger.net/2018/11/twitter-alt-texts-on-db-trains/ ]). The reasons why people watch TV with closed captions on, despite having good hearing abilities and not being constrained by having to watch muted video, are manifold and go far beyond those two most commonly anticipated use cases.

[image: Close-up image of a video with subtitles (caption: "Closed captions are used by people with good hearing and audio playback turned on. An overseen use case?")]

Even applying a rather shallow, ex-tempore categorisation exercise based on the replies on Twitter, I end up with an impressive list to start with:

• Permanent difficulties with audio content
◦ audio processing disorders
◦ short attention span (incl., but not limited to clinical conditions)
◦ hard of hearing, irrespective of age
• Temporary impairments of hearing or perception
◦ watching under the influence of alcohol
◦ noise from eating chips while watching
• Environmental/contextual factors
◦ environment noise from others in the room (or a snoring dog)
◦ distractions and multitasking (working out, child care, web browsing, working, phone calls)
• Reasons related to the media itself
◦ bad audio levels of voice vs. music
• Enabler for improved understanding
◦ easier to follow dialogue
◦ annoyance with missing dialogue
◦ avoidance of misinterpretations
◦ better appreciation of dialogue
• Better access to details
◦ able to take note of titles of songs played
◦ ability to understand song lyrics
◦ re-watching to catch missed details
• Language-related reasons
◦ strong accents
◦ fast talking, mumbling
◦ unable to understand foreign language
◦ insecurity with non-native language
• Educational goals, learning and understanding
◦ language learning
◦ literacy development for children
◦ seeing the spelling of unknown words/names
◦ easier memorability of content read (retainability)
• Social reasons
◦ courtesy to others, either in need for silence or with a need/preference for subtitles
◦ presence of pets or sleeping children
◦ avoiding social conflict over sound level or distractions (“CC = family peace”)
• Media habits
◦ ability to share screen photos with text online
• Personal preferences
◦ preference for reading
◦ acquired habit
• Limitations of technology skills
◦ lack of knowledge of how to turn them off

An attempt at designerly analysis

The reasons range from common sense to surprising, such as the examples of closed captions used to avoid family conflict or the two respondents explicitly mentioning “eating chips” as a source of disturbing noise. Motivations mentioned repeatedly refer to learning and/or understanding, but also such apparently banal reasons like not knowing how to turn them off (a usability issue?). Most importantly, though, it becomes apparent that using CC is more often than not related to choice/preference, rather than to impairment or restraints from using audio.

At the same time, it becomes very clear that not everybody likes them, especially when forced to watch with subtitles by another person. The desire/need of some may negatively affect the experience of others present. A repeat complaint that, particularly with comedy, CC can kill the jokes may also hint at the fact that subtitles and their timing could perhaps be improved by considering them as more than an accessibility aid for those who would not hear the audio? (It appears as if the scenario of audio and CC consumed simultaneously is not something considered when subtitles are created and implemented; are we looking at another case for “exclusive design”?)

And while perceived as distracting when new – this was the starting point of Kottke’s Tweet – many of the comments share the view that it becomes less obtrusive over time; people from countries where TV is not dubbed in particular are so used to it they barely notice it (“becomes second nature”). Yet, there are even such interesting behaviours like people skipping back to re-read a dialogue they only listened to at first, as well as that of skipping back to be able to pay better attention to the picture at second view (e.g. details of expression) after reading the subtitles initially.

Last but not least, it is interesting how people may even feel shame over using CC. Only a conversation like the cited Twitter thread may help them realise that it is much more common than they thought. And most importantly that it has nothing to do with a perceived stigmatisation of being “hard of hearing”.

CC as part of video content design

The phenomenon is obviously not new. Some articles on the topic suggest that it is a generational habit [https://medium.com/s/the-upgrade/why-gen-z-loves-closed-captioning-ec4e44b8d02f ] of generation Z (though Kottke’s little survey proves the contrary), or even sees [https://www.wired.com/story/closed-captions-everywhere/ ] it as paranoid and obsessive-compulsive behaviour of “postmodern completists” as facilitated by new technological possibilities. Research on the benefits of CC for language learning, on the other hand, reaches back [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19388078909557984 ] several decades.

No matter what – the phenomenon in itself is interesting enough to make this a theme for deeper consideration in any design project that contains video material. Because, after all, one thing is for sure: closed captions are not for those with hearing impairments or with muted devices alone – and to deliver great UX, these users should be considered as well."

[See also: https://kottke.org/19/04/why-everyone-is-watching-tv-with-closed-captioning-on-these-days ]
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  sebastiangreger  literacy  language  languages  ux  ui  television  ocd  attention  adhd  languagelearning  learning  howwelearn  processing  hearing  sound  environment  parenting  media  multimedia  clarity  accents  memory  memorization  children  distractions  technology  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Why Gen Z Loves Closed Captioning – The Upgrade – Medium
"Old technology finds a surprising new application

“Everyone does it.”

These were the words from my college-aged daughter when I caught her lounging on our couch, streaming Friends with 24-point closed captioning on. She has no hearing impairment, and I wanted to know what she was up to.

Does “everyone” do it? My wife and I turned to Facebook and a private, nationwide group for parents with near-adult children. “Anyone else’s college student (without a hearing disability) watch TV with the closed captioning on and insist that everyone does it?” my wife posted. Seven hundred responses (and counting) later, we had our answer.

“It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back.”
Many parents expressed similar confusion with the TV-watching habits of their millennial and Gen Z children, often followed with, “I thought it was just us.”

I returned to my daughter, who had now switched to the creepy Lifetime import You.

“Why do you have captions on?” I asked.

“It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back,” she replied. “And I can text while I watch.”

My multitasking daughter used to watch TV while working on her laptop and texting or FaceTiming on her phone. She kept rewinding the DVR to catch the last few minutes she’d missed because she either zoned out or was distracted by another screen.

Her response turned out to be even more insightful than I realized at first. A number of mental health experts I spoke with — and even one study I found — supported the notion that watching with closed captioning serves a valuable role for those who struggle with focus and listening.

“I do see this a lot in my practice,” said Dr. Andrew Kent, an adolescent psychiatrist practicing in New York and Medical Director of New York START, Long Island. “I believe auditory processing is more easily impacted upon by distractions, and that they need to read [captions] to stay focused.”

Closed captioning is a relatively recent development in the history of broadcasting, and it was designed with the hearing impaired in mind. According to a useful history on the National Captioning Institute’s (NCI) website, the technology dates back to the early 1970s, when Julia Child’s The French Chef “made history as the first television program accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.” Real-time captioning arrived later, with stenographers typing at a blazing 250 words-per-minute to keep up with live news and sporting events.

They use captions to focus more intently on the content.
If it wasn’t for the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and additional rules adopted by the FCC in 2012, it’s unlikely my daughter’s IP-based Netflix streaming content would even have closed captioning options today.

While the NCI doesn’t explicitly acknowledge the growing use of closed captioning by those without hearing impairments, it does note that “closed captioning has grown from an experimental service intended only for people who are deaf to a truly global communications service that touches the lives of millions of people every day in vital ways.”

It’s certainly not just a phenomenon for young people. There are many people my age who admit to using them because they have some middle-aged hearing loss or simply need help understanding what the characters on Luther or Peaky Blinders are saying. They use captions to focus more intently on the content.

The need to read captions for what you can hear might even have a biological base. According to Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a psychiatrist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, some people may have trouble processing the audio from television.

“I believe that there are a number of individuals who have ADHD who may also suffer from undiagnosed auditory processing disorder (APD), and for these individuals… this may be very helpful,” Dr. Varma told me via email. Closed captioning can provide the visual cues that APD sufferers need to overcome their issues with listening and comprehension, she added.

APD refers to how the brain processes auditory information, and though it supposedly only affects around 5 percent of school-age children, there’s reportedly been a significant uptick in overall awareness. As Dr. Varma pointed out, there may be a lot of people who don’t realize they have APD, but are aware of some of the symptoms, which include being bothered by loud noises, difficulty focusing in loud environments, and forgetfulness.

There may be applications in the classroom, too. In a 2015 study of 2,800 college-age students on the impact of closed captioning on video learning, 75 percent of respondents mentioned that they struggle with paying attention in class. “The most common reasons students used captions… was to help them focus,” Dr. Katie Linder, the research director at Oregon State University who led the study, told me.

And even four years ago, there were hints that the use of closed captioning as a focusing tool would bleed outside the classroom.

As a report on the study put it, “Several people in this study also mentioned that they use captions all the time, not just for their learning experience. Captions with Netflix was mentioned multiple times. So, we know that students are engaging with them outside of the classroom.”

When the NCI first co-developed closed captioning technology some 50 years ago, they called it “words worth watching,” and it did transform millions of lives. Today, we may be witnessing — or reading — a similar revolution."
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  lanceulnoff  television  adhd  attention  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Language Is Migrant - South Magazine Issue #8 [documenta 14 #3] - documenta 14
"Language is migrant. Words move from language to language, from culture to culture, from mouth to mouth. Our bodies are migrants; cells and bacteria are migrants too. Even galaxies migrate.

What is then this talk against migrants? It can only be talk against ourselves, against life itself.

Twenty years ago, I opened up the word “migrant,” seeing in it a dangerous mix of Latin and Germanic roots. I imagined “migrant” was probably composed of mei, Latin for “to change or move,” and gra, “heart” from the Germanic kerd. Thus, “migrant” became “changed heart,”
a heart in pain,
changing the heart of the earth.

The word “immigrant” says, “grant me life.”

“Grant” means “to allow, to have,” and is related to an ancient Proto-Indo-European root: dhe, the mother of “deed” and “law.” So too, sacerdos, performer of sacred rites.

What is the rite performed by millions of people displaced and seeking safe haven around the world? Letting us see our own indifference, our complicity in the ongoing wars?

Is their pain powerful enough to allow us to change our hearts? To see our part in it?

I “wounder,” said Margarita, my immigrant friend, mixing up wondering and wounding, a perfect embodiment of our true condition!

Vicente Huidobro said, “Open your mouth to receive the host of the wounded word.”

The wound is an eye. Can we look into its eyes?
my specialty is not feeling, just
looking, so I say:
(the word is a hard look.)
—Rosario Castellanos

I don’t see with my eyes: words
are my eyes.
—Octavio Paz

In l980, I was in exile in Bogotá, where I was working on my “Palabrarmas” project, a way of opening words to see what they have to say. My early life as a poet was guided by a line from Novalis: “Poetry is the original religion of mankind.” Living in the violent city of Bogotá, I wanted to see if anybody shared this view, so I set out with a camera and a team of volunteers to interview people in the street. I asked everybody I met, “What is Poetry to you?” and I got great answers from beggars, prostitutes, and policemen alike. But the best was, “Que prosiga,” “That it may go on”—how can I translate the subjunctive, the most beautiful tiempo verbal (time inside the verb) of the Spanish language? “Subjunctive” means “next to” but under the power of the unknown. It is a future potential subjected to unforeseen conditions, and that matches exactly the quantum definition of emergent properties.

If you google the subjunctive you will find it described as a “mood,” as if a verbal tense could feel: “The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.” Or “the ‘present’ subjunctive is the bare form of a verb (that is, a verb with no ending).”

I loved that! A never-ending image of a naked verb! The man who passed by as a shadow in my film saying “Que prosiga” was on camera only for a second, yet he expressed in two words the utter precision of Indigenous oral culture.

People watching the film today can’t believe it was not scripted, because in thirty-six years we seem to have forgotten the art of complex conversation. In the film people in the street improvise responses on the spot, displaying an awareness of language that seems to be missing today. I wounder, how did it change? And my heart says it must be fear, the ocean of lies we live in, under a continuous stream of doublespeak by the violent powers that rule us. Living under dictatorship, the first thing that disappears is playful speech, the fun and freedom of saying what you really think. Complex public conversation goes extinct, and along with it, the many species we are causing to disappear as we speak.

The word “species” comes from the Latin speciēs, “a seeing.” Maybe we are losing species and languages, our joy, because we don’t wish to see what we are doing.

Not seeing the seeing in words, we numb our senses.

I hear a “low continuous humming sound” of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” the drones we send out into the world carrying our killing thoughts.

Drones are the ultimate expression of our disconnect with words, our ability to speak without feeling the effect or consequences of our words.

“Words are acts,” said Paz.

Our words are becoming drones, flying robots. Are we becoming desensitized by not feeling them as acts? I am thinking not just of the victims but also of the perpetrators, the drone operators. Tonje Hessen Schei, director of the film Drone, speaks of how children are being trained to kill by video games: “War is made to look fun, killing is made to look cool. ... I think this ‘militainment’ has a huge cost,” not just for the young soldiers who operate them but for society as a whole. Her trailer opens with these words by a former aide to Colin Powell in the Bush/Cheney administration:
OUR POTENTIAL COLLECTIVE FUTURE. WATCH IT AND WEEP FOR US. OR WATCH IT AND DETERMINE TO CHANGE THAT FUTURE
—Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel U.S. Army (retired)


In Astro Noise, the exhibition by Laura Poitras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the language of surveillance migrates into poetry and art. We lie in a collective bed watching the night sky crisscrossed by drones. The search for matching patterns, the algorithms used to liquidate humanity with drones, is turned around to reveal the workings of the system. And, we are being surveyed as we survey the show! A new kind of visual poetry connecting our bodies to the real fight for the soul of this Earth emerges, and we come out woundering: Are we going to dehumanize ourselves to the point where Earth itself will dream our end?

The fight is on everywhere, and this may be the only beauty of our times. The Quechua speakers of Peru say, “beauty is the struggle.”

Maybe darkness will become the source of light. (Life regenerates in the dark.)

I see the poet/translator as the person who goes into the dark, seeking the “other” in him/herself, what we don’t wish to see, as if this act could reveal what the world keeps hidden.

Eduardo Kohn, in his book How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human notes the creation of a new verb by the Quichua speakers of Ecuador: riparana means “darse cuenta,” “to realize or to be aware.” The verb is a Quichuan transfiguration of the Spanish reparar, “to observe, sense, and repair.” As if awareness itself, the simple act of observing, had the power to heal.

I see the invention of such verbs as true poetry, as a possible path or a way out of the destruction we are causing.

When I am asked about the role of the poet in our times, I only question: Are we a “listening post,” composing an impossible “survival guide,” as Paul Chan has said? Or are we going silent in the face of our own destruction?

Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista guerrilla, transcribes the words of El Viejo Antonio, an Indian sage: “The gods went looking for silence to reorient themselves, but found it nowhere.” That nowhere is our place now, that’s why we need to translate language into itself so that IT sees our awareness.

Language is the translator. Could it translate us to a place within where we cease to tolerate injustice and the destruction of life?

Life is language. “When we speak, life speaks,” says the Kaushitaki Upanishad.

Awareness creates itself looking at itself.

It is transient and eternal at the same time.

Todo migra. Let’s migrate to the “wounderment” of our lives, to poetry itself."
ceciliavicuña  language  languages  words  migration  immigration  life  subcomandantemarcos  elviejoantonio  lawrencewilkerson  octaviopaz  exile  rosariocastellanos  poetry  spanish  español  subjunctive  oral  orality  conversation  complexity  seeing  species  joy  tonjehessenschei  war  colinpowell  laurapoitras  art  visual  translation  eduoardokohn  quechua  quichua  healing  repair  verbs  invention  listening  kaushitakiupanishad  awareness  noticing  wondering  vicentehuidobro  wounds  woundering  migrants  unknown  future  potential  unpredictability  emergent  drones  morethanhuman  multispecies  paulchan  destruction  displacement  refugees  extinction  others  tolerance  injustice  justice  transience  ephemerality  ephemeral  canon  eternal  surveillance  patterns  algorithms  earth  sustainability  environment  indifference  complicity  dictatorship  documenta14  2017  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
david silver en Instagram: “Every time a new semester rolls up and I scramble to prepare another syllabus, I think of the wise words of Mary “Molly” Gregory, faculty…”
"Every time a new semester rolls up and I scramble to prepare another syllabus, I think of the wise words of Mary “Molly” Gregory, faculty of woodworking (and so much more) from 1941-47 at Black Mountain College. “How,” to paraphrase Molly Gregory, “can you design a course before getting to know your students and their skills?”"
davidsilver  blackmountaincollege  bmc  education  syllabus  cocreation  teaching  howweteach  marygregory  1940s  howwelearn  listening  maryemmaharris  syllabi 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It? - The New York Times
"A few years ago, when people heard I was a reading researcher, they might ask about their child’s dyslexia or how to get their teenager to read more. But today the question I get most often is, “Is it cheating if I listen to an audiobook for my book club?”

Audiobook sales have doubled in the last five years while print and e-book sales are flat. These trends might lead us to fear that audiobooks will do to reading what keyboarding has done to handwriting — rendered it a skill that seems quaint and whose value is open to debate. But examining how we read and how we listen shows that each is best suited to different purposes, and neither is superior.

In fact, they overlap considerably. Consider why audiobooks are a good workaround for people with dyslexia: They allow listeners to get the meaning while skirting the work of decoding, that is, the translation of print on the page to words in the mind. Although decoding is serious work for beginning readers, it’s automatic by high school, and no more effortful or error prone than listening. Once you’ve identified the words (whether by listening or reading), the same mental process comprehends the sentences and paragraphs they form.

Writing is less than 6,000 years old, insufficient time for the evolution of specialized mental processes devoted to reading. We use the mental mechanism that evolved to understand oral language to support the comprehension of written language. Indeed, research shows that adults get nearly identical scores on a reading test if they listen to the passages instead of reading them.

Nevertheless, there are differences between print and audio, notably prosody. That’s the pitch, tempo and stress of spoken words. “What a great party” can be a sincere compliment or sarcastic put-down, but they look identical on the page. Although writing lacks symbols for prosody, experienced readers infer it as they go. In one experiment, subjects listened to a recording of someone’s voice who either spoke quickly or slowly. Next, everyone silently read the same text, purportedly written by the person whose voice they had just heard. Those hearing the quick talker read the text faster than those hearing the slow talker.

But the inferences can go wrong, and hearing the audio version — and therefore the correct prosody — can aid comprehension. For example, today’s student who reads “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” often assumes that Juliet is asking where Romeo is, and so infers that the word art would be stressed. In a performance, an actress will likely stress Romeo, which will help a listener realize she’s musing about his name, not wondering about his location.

It sounds as if comprehension should be easier when listening than reading, but that’s not always true. For example, one study compared how well students learned about a scientific subject from a 22-minute podcast versus a printed article. Although students spent equivalent time with each format, on a written quiz two days later the readers scored 81 percent and the listeners 59 percent.

What happened? Note that the subject matter was difficult, and the goal wasn’t pleasure but learning. Both factors make us read differently. When we focus, we slow down. We reread the hard bits. We stop and think. Each is easier with print than with a podcast.

Print also supports readers through difficult content via signals to organization like paragraphs and headings, conventions missing from audio. Experiments show readers actually take longer to read the first sentence of a paragraph because they know it probably contains the foundational idea for what’s to come.

So although one core process of comprehension serves both listening and reading, difficult texts demand additional mental strategies. Print makes those strategies easier to use. Consistent with that interpretation, researchers find that people’s listening and reading abilities are more similar for simple narratives than for expository prose. Stories tend to be more predictable and employ familiar ideas, and expository essays more likely include unfamiliar content and require more strategic reading.

This conclusion — equivalence for easy texts and an advantage to print for hard ones — is open to changes in the future. As audiobooks become more common, listeners will gain experience in comprehending them and may improve, and publishers may develop ways of signaling organization auditorily.

But even with those changes, audiobooks won’t replace print because we use them differently. Eighty-one percent of audiobook listeners say they like to drive, work out or otherwise multitask while they listen. The human mind is not designed for doing two things simultaneously, so if we multitask, we’ll get gist, not subtleties.

Still, that’s no reason for print devotees to sniff. I can’t hold a book while I mop or commute. Print may be best for lingering over words or ideas, but audiobooks add literacy to moments where there would otherwise be none.

So no, listening to a book club selection is not cheating. It’s not even cheating to listen while you’re at your child’s soccer game (at least not as far as the book is concerned). You’ll just get different things out of the experience. And different books invite different ways that you want to read them: As the audio format grows more popular, authors are writing more works specifically meant to be heard.

Our richest experiences will come not from treating print and audio interchangeably, but from understanding the differences between them and figuring out how to use them to our advantage — all in the service of hearing what writers are actually trying to tell us."
danilwillingham  howweread  reading  audiobooks  literacy  print  audio  listening 
december 2018 by robertogreco
AnjiPlay (@anjiplay) • Fotos y vídeos de Instagram
“We have discovered that some teachers, if they really want to hear what children have to say, that their whole state of being is at ease, and they listen closely and that in the process of listening they discover that children are speaking a wealth of information, and these teachers will be receptive to the information that they are hearing. And then some teachers want to hear children say what they the teachers, deep down, want the children to say, things that they want to hear, and will unconsciously overlook what children are actually saying. They can't hear clearly and are unable to truly understand the child's expression. And you can see that their physical state of being is one of anxiety.” —Wang Zhen, Vice Principal, Jiguan Kindergarten, Anji County interviewed by Dr. Chelsea Bailey on November 7, 2018.
wangzhen  children  childhood  preschool  anjiplay  listening  howweteach  teaching  pedagogy  hearing  attention  presence  receptivity 
november 2018 by robertogreco
GRADA KILOMBA: DECOLONIZING KNOWLEDGE - Voice Republic
"In this lecture performance Grada Kilomba explores forms of Decolonizing Knowledge using printed work, writing exercises, performative narrative, and visual art, as forms of alternative knowledge production. Kilomba raises questions concerning the concepts of knowledge, race and gender: “What is acknowledged as knowledge? Whose knowledge is this? Who is acknowledged to produce knowledge?” This project exposes not only the violence of classic knowledge production, but also how this violence is performed in academic, cultural and artistic spaces, which determine both who can speak and what we can speak about.To touch this colonial wound, she creates a hybrid space where the boundaries between the academic and the artistic languages confine, transforming the configurations of knowledge and power. Using a collage of her literary and visual work, Grada Kilomba initiates a dialogue of multiple narratives who speak, interrupt, and appropriate the ‘normal’ and continuous coloniality in which we reside. The audience is invited to participate, and to re-imagine the concept of knowledge anew, by opening new spaces for decolonial thinking."

[See also: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grada_Kilomba ]
gradakilomba  performance  decolonization  speaking  listening  2015  knowledge  narrative  art  knowledgeproduction  unschooling  deschooling  colonialism  academia  highered  highereducation  storytelling  bellhooks  participation  participatory  theory  thinking  howwethink  africa  slavery  frantzfanon  audrelorde  knowing  portugal 
october 2018 by robertogreco
M.I.A. and the Defense of Nuance | Affidavit
"Cancelling people is exhilarating, especially when it’s done by marginalized folks, those who so often experience the world through white supremacy—sometimes as a soft and subtle barrage, other times through vicious and terrifying means. The ability to dictate someone’s fate, when you’ve long been in the shadows, is a kind of victory. Like saying “Fuck You” from underneath the very heavy sole of a very old shoe. But while outrage culture has its merits, nuance has evaporated. So often it involves reducing someone to their mistakes, their greatest hits collection of fuck-ups.

In her song “Best Life,” Cardi B raps:

“That’s when they came for me on Twitter with the backlash/ "#CardiBIsSoProblematic" is the hashtag/ I can't believe they wanna see me lose that bad...”

This is her response to being cancelled for a now-infamous Twitter thread detailing her colorism, orientalism, and transphobia. Most recently, after her song “Girls” with Rita Ora was also deemed problematic, she made a statement: “I know I have use words before that I wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct ‘terms’ to use. I learned and I stopped using it.”

Cardi brings up something that I keep coming back to: How accessibility to political language is a certain kind of privilege. What I believe Maya is trying to say is that American issues have become global. What she lacks the language to say is: how do we also care about the many millions of people around the world who are dying, right now? Why does American news, American trauma, American death, always take center-stage?

There are things we need to agree on, like the permutations of white supremacy, but are we, societally, equipped for social media being our judge, jury and executioner? I started to realize that the schadenfreude of cancelling was its own beast. It erases people of their humanity, of their ability to learn from experience.

This brings up the politics of disposability. How helpful is distilling someone into an immovable misstep, seeing them not as a person but as interloper who fucked up, and therefore deserves no redemption? How helpful is to interrogate a conversation, but not continue it? Is telling someone to die, and sending them death threats, or telling them they’re stupid or cancelled the way to do it? Who, and what, are we willing to lose in the fire?

M.I.A. and Cardi are similarly unwilling to conform to polite expectation. They both know that relatability is part of their charm. They are attractive women who speak their mind. This, in essence, is privilege, too—which then requires responsibility. The difference is that Cardi apologized."



"“Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?”

In 2016, when Maya made these comments in an ES Magazine interview, I remember being frustrated that she only accentuated the divide between non-black people of color and black folks, partially because so often we (Asians) say dumb shit.

The dumb shit I’m referring to w/r/t Maya is not only her tunnel vision when it comes to the complexity of race (plus the void and difference between black and brown folks’ experience) but also the incapacity—or stunted unwillingness—to further self-reflect on her positioning.

Because of her insolence, I had considered Maya undeserving of my alliance. Her lack of inclusivity and disregard of the complexity of political identity, especially in North America, was abominable. As a woman who had found success within the black mediums of rap and hip-hop, her smug disregard felt brash. It felt lazy.

But, as I watched the documentary on her life, I also began to see her complexity. One thing that strikes me about Maya is her personal perseverance. Her family went through hell to get the U.K. Her father’s political affiliations forced them to flee Sri Lanka. Arular was a revolutionary, and thus deemed a terrorist. He was absent her whole childhood. At one point in the film she describes riding on a bus in Sri Lanka with her mom. When the bus jerks forward, the policemen standing alongside casually sexually assault them in broad daylight. Her mother, Mala, warns Maya to stay silent, lest they both be killed. Her reality—of physical threats, of early loss—is stark. As she recalls the details in her candid, detached drawl, you imagine her grappling with the past like a lucid dream.

Herein lies Maya’s dissonance. She is the first refugee popstar, which allows her to subsume a state of Du Bois’ double consciousness. She is neither this nor that, she is a mixture of both East and West. Her experience seeps into her music like a trance, and these definitions are vital to understanding her.

She is agonized by the realities of war, of being an unwanted immigrant who fled from genocide into the frenzied hells of London, only to be pushed into a mostly-white housing estate system, replete with Nazi skinheads. “A tough life needs a tough language,” Jeanette Winterson writes in Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, her memoir about her abusive stepmother. As I watch the documentary, I wonder, again, if what Maya lacks most is language.

In the current political climate, where Syrian refugees are denied entry into the U.S., and the Muslim Ban, or “Travel Ban,” is an attack on the very notion of being different in America, I began to understand this other part of Maya. How angry she might be for the lack of articulation when it came to refugees, when it’s still very much an issue. She came to music to survive. Art was a way to dislocate from the trauma, to inoculate herself from the past, and provide a new, vivid reality that was both about transcending where she came from, whilst also creating a platform to speak to her roots, to her lineage, to her people.

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. The people that speak it are, right now, being wiped out.

Her understanding of race comes from the victim’s perspective. She not only experienced white supremacy in her work, but was forced out of the country where she was born. Someone like her was never supposed to succeed. But, whether it’s Bill Maher mocking her “cockney accent” as she talks about the Tamil genocide, or the New York Times’ Lynn Hirschberg claiming her agitprop is fake because she dare munch on truffle fries (which were ordered by Hirschberg), Maya has been torn apart by (white) cultural institutions and commentators. You can see how these experiences have made her suspicious in general, but also particularly suspicious of me, a journalist.

Thing is, she’s been burnt by us too—by South Asians. So many of us walked away, attacking her instead of building a dialogue. Her compassion, therefore, is partially suspended. It’s as if she’s decided, vehemently—because she’s deemed herself to not be racist, or anti-black—that the conversation ends. She feels misheard, misrepresented. For her, it’s not about black life mattering or not mattering. It’s about prioritizing human life, about acknowledging human death. But, in America, that gets lost.

You can understand Maya’s perspective without agreeing with her, but I had another question. How do you hold someone you love accountable?

*

The talk itself was many things: awkward, eye-opening, disarming. When I asked about her alleged anti-blackness, she brought up Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that she was set up... by the internet. That her online fans should know that she’s not racist, so that perhaps her one-time friendship with Julian Assange was why she was being attacked online. Her incomprehension that people could be upset by her remarks reflected her naivety about how the internet kills its darlings. Two weeks prior to our meeting, Stephon Clark was murdered, shot twenty times in the back by two police officers. To this she responded: “Yeah, well no-one remembers the kid in Syria who is being shot right now either. Or the kid that’s dying in Somalia.” It made me wonder if she was unwell, not on a Kanye level, but just enough to lack the mechanisms it takes to understand perspective.

Backstage after the talk, she said, “I don’t know why you asked me those questions.” I told her that I thought critique, when done with care, was an empowering act of love. I needed clarity for our community’s sake—many of whom felt isolated by her, a cherished South Asian icon. We need answers from her because we are all trying to grapple with our love and frustration with her.

I don’t want to absolve Maya. What I’m more interested in is how we can say “problematic fave” while acknowledging that we are all problematic to someone. Is there compassion here? Is there space to grow?

*

In They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib writes, “There are people we need so much we can’t imagine turning away from them. People we’ve built entire homes inside of ourselves for, that cannot stand empty. People we still find a way to make magic with, even when the lights flicker, and the love runs entirely out.”

In the recent months, I’ve re-examined Maya with sad enthusiasm. The beginning riff of “Bad Girls”: a women in full niqab racing a car through side swept dunes. Without question, it’s an aching kind of visibility, but the tenor is different. Listening to her now it feels weighted, changed.

Laconic and aloof, I remind Maya on stage that anti-blackness is not an American issue, it’s universal. Perhaps it’s ego, or shameful anger, but I know she cares. Before she begins to speak I realize that you have to build empathy when someone fails you. That they’re not yours to own. You have to try your best to talk to them, and that it’s never helpful to reduce them to a punchline. I believe in Maya’s possibility to grow. I believe in the possibility of change. Maybe that’s my own naivety, but it’s also my political stance. It’s not about … [more]
mia  fariharóisín  2018  privilege  language  cancelling  marginalization  colorism  transphobia  orientlism  cardib  socialmedia  disposability  whitesupremacy  race  racism  apologies  learning  power  islamophobia  islam  socialjustice  noamchomsky  modelminorities  modelminority  nuance  complexity  perseverance  srilanka  silence  refugees  politics  tamil  victims  compassion  blacklivesmatter  julianassange  yourfaveisproblematic  us  australia  anti-blackness  growth  care  caring  dialog  conversation  listening  ego  shame  anger  change  naivety  howwechange  howwelearn  hanifabdurraqib  visibility  internet  problemematicfaves 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering | Literary Hub
"In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

The United States’s public libraries sometimes seem to me the last refuges of a democratic vision of equality, places in which everyone is welcome, which serve the goal of an informed public, offering services far beyond the already heady gift of free books you can take home, everything from voter registration to computer access. I’ve joked for a long time that if you walked up to people in the street and asked them whether we could own our greatest treasures collectively and trust people to walk away with them and bring them back, a lot of people would say that’s impossibly idealistic and some would say it’s socialist, but libraries have been making books free for all for a very long time. They are temples of books, fountains of narrative pleasure, and toolboxes of crucial information. My own writing has depended on public libraries and then university libraries and archives and does to this day. I last used a public library the day before yesterday."



"So let’s begin by recognizing that all this was—and in many moral ways still is—Coast Miwok land, before the Spanish came, before Spanish claims became Mexican claims, before this was considered to be part of Mexico, before it was part of the United States."



"Browsing, woolgathering, meandering, wandering, drifting, that state when exploring, when looking to find what it might be possible to find rather than seeking one particular goal, is the means of locomotion. I often think that hunter-gatherers must move a lot like this, seeking game or plant foods, flexible about what might show up on any given day. I was lucky that children were weeds, not hothouse flowers, in those days, left to our own devices, and my own devices led in two directions: north to the hills and the horses, south to the library."



"These linked paths and roads form a circuit of about six miles that I began hiking ten years ago to walk off my angst during a difficult year. I kept coming back to this route for respite from my work and for my work too, because thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals. After all those years of walking to work out other things, it made sense to come back to work close to home, in Thoreau’s sense, and to think about walking.

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."



"Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations."



"Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go…"



"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone."



"Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao Tsu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens into another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds. All readers are Wu Daozi; all imaginative, engrossing books are landscapes into which readers vanish."
rebeccasolnit  2017  children  unschooling  deschooling  parenting  education  libraries  wandering  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  forests  childhood  novato  california  learning  canon  publicgood  us  egalitarianism  democracy  socialism  thoreau  walking  cv  unknowing  uncertainty  woods  writing  howwewrite  books  literature  stories  storytelling  listening  reading  sanctuary  vanishing  nature  plants  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Rebellious children? At least you're doing something right | Life and style | The Guardian
"We all want impeccably behaved children, right? Well maybe not, says Annalisa Barbieri. Here, she questions why there is such a fashion for taming our youngsters"

"Two stories caught my attention recently. One was a report that breastfed babies are more challenging in their behaviour and the other was about a new book called French Children Don't Throw Food: about how French children apparently behave really well, in restaurants and just generally.

(Hmm. Can I pause here to tell you a story? My aunt was French. She had twins. She'd carry round a little whip – actually several little leather straps of about 6" in length, all coming together into a wooden handle. She would hit my cousins on the back of their legs if they stepped even a tiny bit out of line. The word I remember her saying the most was "arrête". But it is absolutely true to say I never once saw them throw food.)

Most parenting books are about how to get children to do things well. By well, read obediently. When and how you - the adult - want them to do something: eat well, pee in the potty, sleep well (that's the big one), behave well. The aim, it would seem, is to raise compliant children. Because, according to these books, obedient children = successful parents, disobedient = head hanging failures. But actually is an obedient child cause for concern or celebration? The more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became by this question. Telling someone their child is obedient is (usually) meant as a compliment. But an obedient adult? Not quite so attractive is it? We have other words for that, doormat being one of them.

Alfie Kohn, author of 'Unconditional Parenting. Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason' says, "When I ask parents, at the beginning of my lectures, what their long term goals are for the children, I hear words such as ethical, compassionate independent happy and so on. No-one ever says mindlessly compliant."

A compliant child becomes a particular concern, Kohn admits, when they reach adolescence. "If they take their orders from other people, that may include people we may not approve of. To put it the other way around: kids who are subject to peer pressure at its worst are kids whose parents taught them to do what they're told."

Alison Roy, lead child and adolescent psychotherapist at East Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), says: "A child will push the boundaries if they have a more secure attachment. Children who have been responded to, led to believe - in a healthy way - that their voice is valued, that all they have to do is object and action will be taken - they will push boundaries. And this is really healthy behaviour. Compliance? They've learned there's no point arguing because their voice isn't valued."

So much of what we see as disobedience in children is actually just natural, curious, exploring, learning behaviour. Or reacting – in the only way they know how – to a situation over which they have no control.

"You can threaten or bribe a child into obedience for a little while," explains Kohn, "but you are missing the big picture and failing to address the underlying cause [of why they may not want to do something] which may be environmental – such as rushing a tired child through an unfamiliar place - or they may be psychological, such as fear about something else. A very obedient or complaint child – it depends, some are more docile by temperament - but others have created a false self because they sense their parent will only love them if they are obedient. The need for autonomy doesn't vanish because kids have been cowed into doing what they're told."

A very young child isn't actually meant to be obedient all of the time, according to Roy. This is because their needs are often completely at odds with an adult's. See that lovely wall you've just painted in £100-a-pot paint? That's just one lovely big, blank canvas to a two-year-old with a contraband crayon, who doesn't understand why you praise them so much for drawing on a piece of paper but shout at them for drawing on the wall. You think it's a cold day and want to wrestle a woolly pully over your child's head but actually the child isn't cold and doesn't want it. Imagine going to a friend's house and you accidentally spill a drink and get shouted at, instead of them saying "oh don't worry" and mopping it up. And yet...

There seems to be a real fashion for taming children and the reason seems to be fear: it's not that most people are worried about one incident of wall-scribbling, but that they seem to fear what this behaviour will turn into if it's not kept in check, as if all children are just waiting to grow up into sociopaths. One of the comments I get a lot, at the end of my columns for the Family section of the Guardian (when I have advocated understanding and a more what would be called 'softly softly' approach to a child) is something along the lines of 'they'll turn into a monster if you don't put your foot down/show them who's boss'.

"It's not based on empirical evidence," argues Kohn. "It's a very dark view of human nature.

At the top of my list of what makes a great parent is the courage to say 'I still have something to learn and I need to rethink what I'm doing'. The parents who worry me are those who dismiss the kind of challenge that I and others offer, waving it away as unrealistic or not practical enough, or idealistic." Kohn advises a 'working with', rather than a 'doing to' approach to children. In short, getting to know your child, listening to them. "Talk less, ask more.""
parenting  2012  annalisabarbieri  children  rebellion  obedience  behavior  psychology  power  control  listening  compliance  alisonroy 
january 2018 by robertogreco
And so I am grateful too
"In return for believing in me, I offer belief in others. This is my currency, my economy: trust and belief. I said once about my role as managing editor at Hybrid Pedagogy that “I prowl the gates of this journal, I do—but to keep them open, not closed; to invite in rather than keep out.” But this is not work restricted to that of a journal editor: it is work we can all do in whatever role we occupy. It is the work of teachers, scholars, administrators, provosts, executive directors, instructional designers, technologists, writers, and more. For myself, I will always keep an eye open for new voices, voices that education and academia might not take seriously for whatever reason, I will listen carefully to what they have to say and I will offer them whatever platform I may.

In part, this means not speaking. Not writing Twitter threads. Not occupying any stage alone. The work others have done to give me opportunities must turn into work I can do to give others opportunities. I can be silent and listen. I can retweet. Hold the door so someone else might walk through, just as the door was held for me. And I hope, in my silence, I inspire silence in those who have the privilege—the leaders of the critical pedagogy and digital pedagogy conversation—to make way for other leaders. Because that is leadership in critical pedagogy.

Because critical pedagogy, digital pedagogy, #digped—none of these is our community. Increasingly, I recognize that there is no “us” when “us” means “our.” Should we find ourselves saying that someone is a good fit for our community, we are also saying that someone else is not. Some have seen me as a poor fit for their communities; and so how could I turn around and guard the gate in that fashion? Generosity of spirit, generosity of dialogue, generosity of justice, cannot be exclusive.

In the end, our only legacy will be the people we have loved, the voices we have amplified, the kindnesses we have offered and which echo out ongoingly. A published paper will be forgotten. A hashtag will disappear even more readily. A MOOC, a community, a conference… These all have end points when they disappear or disintegrate. But if in that published paper we cite a student or an adjunct; if across that hashtag we promote lovingkindness and encourage people to speak and listen; if in that MOOC, that community, or at that conference, we meet humans where they are and give them whatever doorways to discovery we can build—then something sustainable, something lasting might come of it.

If I have a wish for the new year, it is not for my life to improve. It is that, through whatever power I have, I might improve the lives of others. This is what Digital Pedagogy Lab is for. This is why I write. This is why I teach. My voice pales in comparison to the cacophony of voices waiting to be heard. I want to hear them. And I believe we all will be better off if we let that cacophony rise."
seanmichaelmorris  criticalpedagogy  ladders  academia  inclusivity  inclusion  education  2017  pedagogy  digitalpedagogy  community  payitforward  punchingup  exposure  generosity  justice  socialjustice  dialogue  privilege  interconnected  interdependence  listening  interconnectedness  interconnectivity 
january 2018 by robertogreco
available in response | sara hendren
"I want to dig into the idea of availability in teaching—in the affective sense, not just the conceptual one. Availability is about being deeply attuned to what’s happening for a group of three, or ten, or twenty-one students, and understanding the differences between those groups so you can calibrate accordingly. It’s broadcasting enough confidence and calm up front that people will trust your intentions, but also the clarity of mind to alter your plans mid-stream and try something else—in response. Plenty of people found it difficult to trust whether Irwin could really pull off something substantive with all of his waiting around, and it takes a tremendous amount of trust for both teachers and students to act together in this way. But availability isn’t disorganization. It’s a quality of attention to the specificities of encounters, this minute, and then this one, and the next.

Steve Seidel, who gave me my first full-time job at Project Zero and first put me onto Irwin, modeled this kind of availability over and over for me. He’d taught in high school classrooms for seventeen years before going into research, and I was lucky to witness, in my early twenties, the ways he welcomed graduate students into his office and his courses, treating their concerns and questions with absolute dignity, like he had all the time in the world for them (and he didn’t!). I saw that there’s a sincere performance aspect to availability: the artificial slowing of time, the listening carefully, and the under-determined nature of exchanges with students, even if you can predict what might be on their minds. I’ve spent the last many years trying to emulate him as much as I can.

The availability thing really came alive, though, when I spent a couple of days at a time down at the School for Poetic Computation in New York. I was there twice as a visiting artist, and both times I gave a talk and then students signed up for half-hour or hour conversations. We walked, or we sat in a garden, or we looked at their work, and we talked. And most of time—these were strangers to me—I tried to get right to the essence with questions and more questions. What’s on your mind? And tell me more. And so on. You have to shore up all your reserves, to marshal all your wits about you when you do this. You have to smile and squelch the urge to fill silences, take a deep breath and pretend like you’ve known each other for some time, in the hopes that this person can get a little space to work longer on what’s in their heads and on paper, or in code, or whatever it is.

I got a little glimpse of this, too, when just a couple of weeks ago I spent time with students in the ID2 program of the Angewandte (university for applied arts) in Vienna. Students were at a halfway point in their course, which had nothing to do with disability. I came and introduced some ideas, and then they prototyped rapidly: a series of ideas-in-things, held in the provisional. There are so many reasons this kind of workshop should ultimately fail. The teacher drops in from outside; there’s no extrinsic motive for them to come along for your invitation. When it succeeds, it’s because of availability in response. With a thousand cues you have to signal: I am here now, holding space for you to do some good work."
availability  listening  sarahendren  robertirwin  teaching  learning  education  art  cv  canon  2017  audiencesofone  seveseidel  projectzero  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputation  id2  angewandte  conversation  unschooling  deschooling 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Gender "pronoun war" is about freedom for sure, but not free speech - NOW Magazine
"In 2000, I started a new job, and on my first day of work I got up the nerve to ask my co-workers to try using the pronoun “they” to help me make the space I needed. And help they did.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, in a cluttered corner office at a community health centre in Winnipeg, an oddball team of sexual health educators did the unthinkable: they just listened. They just believed me that it mattered. They took my word for it that I was not deriving pleasure from imposing random meaningless limits on their linguistic freedom. They learned to adapt; I learned something, too. We didn’t realize it was so earth-shattering.

Did my new co-workers understand why I needed this? I really don’t know, but clearly they didn’t think that was the most important issue. We don’t need to understand something in order to sense the value it holds for others. In fact, the ability to treat experiences that we don’t understand with care, is a marker of the kind of society I want to live in.

What would have happened if, as a reply, my new co-workers had instead pulled out the organizational policies and said, “You can’t make me”? I’m grateful that I don’t know. They would simply never have behaved that way.

At that job, our task was to teach the sexual health curriculum in Manitoba’s high schools. The teens we worked with didn’t seem to notice that my co-presenters called me “they.” We came to their class, we talked about relationships and birth control, dating violence and HIV, racism and homophobia, we answered their urgent, timid, voice-cracking questions as honestly as we could, and we headed home.

But when we visited what were known as the “special needs” classrooms, I noticed something different. Here, for some reason, the students corrected one another without being prompted, they used “they” without explanation or fanfare.

Why were these kids, labelled with an “intellectual disability,” effortlessly able to do what others are unable or unwilling to? Maybe these kids intuitively understood something about respect, through its painful absence in their own lives. Maybe they had never been led to believe in the first place that their freedom trumped that of others."



"Just as the Black Lives Matter movement demands of white people, and as the Standing Rock protest demands of settlers, those who move easily through a gendered world that blocks and stops and harms others at every turn, are simply not “free” to ignore injustice.

Fortunately, while the internet argues on, most non-binary folks are not waiting around. They are miles ahead, busy creating space for themselves and others, building the society they want to live in. I hope, like me, they get to have moments of freedom when they can see that the society they long for is, sometimes, already here."

[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/934465157366890496 ]
gender  pronouns  they  2017  jakepyne  listening  understanding  experience  society  policy  disabilities  disability  freedom  justice  socialjustice 
november 2017 by robertogreco
a blessed unrest
"Now, listen to what your body hasn’t dared let surface." —Hélène Cixous, “Coming to Writing,” Coming to Writing and Other Essays
hélènecixous  listening  bodies  body  human 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Building Flexible Design Systems // Speaker Deck
[via: "I’ve quoted from this deck more than any other this year. “No hypothetical situations” applies to all kinds of problem sets—not just design. https://twitter.com/yeseniaa/status/925840684715782145"
https://twitter.com/tangentialism/status/925842143540805638

"(Also, one reason I love this framing is that it calls implicitly for close listening and observation to unearth hidden problems)"
https://twitter.com/tangentialism/status/925848643550183424 ]
design  webdesign  webdev  yeseniaperez-cruz  listening  obsrvation  systemsthinking  flexibility  systems  layout  scenarios  patterns  christopheralexander  donellameadows  audience  content  modularity  customization  designsystems 
november 2017 by robertogreco
New Documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold Now Streaming on Netflix | Open Culture
[Using this bookmark for a quote from the film (around the 1:03:35 mark):

"You know how children are — they always feel left out. Once, we talked about what kind of mother I had been, and she, to my surprise, said, “You were ok, but you were a little remote.” I didn’t think this at the time, I didn’t see it was possible because her father and I so clearly needed her, which is kind of a way we tend to deal with our children. Later we realize that maybe we haven’t been listening to them at all. We’ve been listening to the very edge of what they say without letting it sink in."]
joandidion  parenting  listening  2017  children 
october 2017 by robertogreco
“Students as Creators” and the Theology of the Attention Economy | Hapgood
"I was so struck this week by Benjamin Doxtdator’s latest post on showing students how to engage with social media in a way that subverts its purposes. On listening as an act of resistance. Of getting past glorifying connection as an end to that important question of purpose. I wanted to jot down a few quick thoughts it brought to mind, all of them far less organized and insightful than Benjamin’s work. It also draws on work by Chris Gilliard and Amy Collier. I hope to offer it as just a piece of what I hope is an emerging critique of how connectivism and constructivism has been practiced and sold in past years, and how we might reorient and reposition it knowing what we know now.

The particular brick I want to hammer at today is our decade-long infatuation with “students as creators”.

I have become deeply skeptical over the past four or five years about the “students as creators” rhetoric. It’s not that I don’t believe that students shouldn’t create – my best and most rewarding projects have always been about students creating public work on the web that makes the lives of others better. I’ve also seen the immense joy and motivation that a maker lab can provide students. And my new push for info-environmentalism is centered in producing things that make the web a better place. I believe in making stuff, and still align myself with constructivism as a philosophy, most days of the week.

But the rhetoric around “students as creators” is unbelievably bad. It parrots all of capitalism’s worst theology: we want to make “makers, not takers”, we value “doers, not thinkers.” As I said a few years back, the idea that universities should value “producers” and push our students towards “production” is actually the least subversive idea you could possibly have at a university. The most subversive idea you could have at a university these days is that you might think a few connected thoughts without throwing them into either publication or the attention economy. That you might think about things for the purpose of being a better human, without an aim to produce anything at all.

Likewise, I sometimes think we’ve convinced ourselves that the attention economy, when implemented on top of open source, is liberating. And so we celebrate with the class when students get comments from outsiders, or have had their posts go viral. We talk about building identity, portfolios, public persona, getting noticed. We don’t realize that we begin to sound more and more like a LinkedIn marketing drone.

And I’ve come to think that, in today’s world, one of the most valuable lessons we can give to students is not “how to build their identity on the web,” but how to selectively obscure it. How to transcend it. How to personally track it. How to make a difference in the world while not being fully public. To teach students not just to avoid Google, but to use Google safely (or as safely as possible). To have them look at their information environments not as vehicles of just self-expression, but as ways to transcend their own prejudices. To read and listen much much more than we speak. And to see what is needed through the lens of privilege – teaching the beauty of deference to the students with self-confidence and social capital, while teaching marginalized students to find communities that can provide them with the self-confidence they need.

And in different contexts, of course, the same student may need both types of instruction.

This post is a bit stream of consciousness, and so I want to pose a question here. Which experience do you think is more educational:

• A student runs a blog on open source software that expresses their opinions on selected chapters of Ready Player One – and gets a comment by author Ernest Cline!!!

• A heterosexual cis student resolves (individually) to follow 20 trans leaders on Twitter and retweet two things they say a week (with the student possibly using a pseudonymous account not tied to their identity). Other students examine their own bubbles and do similar things.

Story number one is the sort of story I used to tell ten years ago at conferences (albeit about different books). But that was before the attention economy swallowed democracy and everything else. Today I’m far more interested in story two, a story that is about not producing, and staying relatively invisible.

Attention (and knowledge of how to get that attention) is still important, of course. But attention for what? For what purpose? I’ve moved from the question of “How do we express ourselves on the internet?” to “How do we be better people on the internet?” Or maybe most importantly, “How do we use the internet to become better people?” Sometimes that involves creating, of course. But if we wish to do more than reinforce the rhetoric of the attention economy, we have to stop seeing that as some sort of peak activity. These skills aren’t a pyramid you climb, and creation is not a destination. Graduating a few more students who understand that will likely make the world a better place for everyone."
attention  productivity  socialmedia  mikecaulfield  2017  attentioneconomy  listenting  internet  web  online  benjamindoxtdator  sfsh  socialcapital  presentationofself  creativity  creation  resistance  listening  thinking  cv 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Cyd Harrell on Twitter: "just putting a note here to make my next rant about the "warm neutral" communication style & how important it is to my practice"
"just putting a note here to make my next rant about the "warm neutral" communication style & how important it is to my practice

so, about warm neutral - it's my intentional communication posture for any interaction where my job is mainly listening.../1

so user research, hiring interviews, 1:1s as a manager, escalations I take at work, etc. I think most people won't be surprised by 1:1s /2

but I've been with a few people recently who were surprised by my using warm neutral in hiring interviews. I think it's really effective /3

for similar reasons, it's effective in user research - if done well, it puts people at ease, makes them feel heard (as opposed to judged) /4

it shows you're interested without being creepy or directing, & it encourages the person to keep talking about what they're talking about /5

I should probably say what it is: warm-neutral listening is present, receptive, and positive. it doesn't show a ton of surprise /6

it *does* show interest, but it doesn't add a lot of comments. it's not too heavy on reflections back; it asks questions, politely. /7

it's fine to smile or nod when you're dong warm-neutral, if those things are authentic for you; it's not fine to freak about an answer... /8

whether you are positively or negatively excited, variations of smiles and nods and receptive body language are all you should do. /9

you can acknowledge problems and frustrations, & I personally think it's fine to show excitement about tangential things.../10

like if you're in a remote research session, loving the participant's desktop photo is fine & easily segues into the right neutral /11

or if you're researching travel planning, saying their destination sounds amazing (but staying neutral about their planning process) /12

in a hiring interview, it's not a poker face; it's an encouragement to keep talking *even if you didn't like what you just heard* /13

I want people to leave a hiring interview with me feeling like they had a friendly conversation and that they were heard... /14

*I* want to leave a hiring interview with good sense of what the candidate will say if they believe they're being well received /15

that tends to make great candidates look better, and problematic ones look more problematic, so it's a win as far as I'm concerned /16

& it's all about a friendly even keel. warm neutral takes emotional work of course, but I don't think it takes more than cold neutral /17

it does take practice. I practice on chatty people on planes & busses (if I'm feeling up to it) or on people who talk a lot /18

I think the best reference I've ever seen about it is this @ftrain piece https://medium.com/message/how-to-be-polite-9bf1e69e888c … which has a slightly different angle /19

anyway, I think people often believe that being neutral means you shouldn't be warm, and I think that's usually not right. you can. /F"
interviewing  hiring  communication  via:kissane  2017  cydharrell  listening  ethnography  research  neutrality 
august 2017 by robertogreco
recalibrating your sites – the ANOVA
"Not too long ago, I felt the need to change the stream of personalities and attitudes that were pouring into my head, and it’s been remarkable.

This was really the product of idiosyncratic personal conditions, but it’s ended up being a good intellectual exercise too. I had to rearrange a few things in my digital social life. And concurrently I had realized that my sense of the world was being distorted by the flow of information that was being deposited into my brain via the internet. I hadn’t really lost a sense of what the “other side” thinks politically; I’m still one of those geezers who forces himself to read Reason and the Wall Street Journal op/ed page and, god help me, National Review. But I had definitely lost a sense of the mental lives of people who did not occupy my various weird interests.

What were other people thinking about, at least as far as could be gleaned by what they shared online? What appeared to be a big deal to them and what didn’t? I had lost my sense of social proportion. I couldn’t tell if the things my friends were obsessing about were things that the rest of the world was obsessing about. Talking to IRL friends that don’t post much or at all online helped give me a sense that I was missing something. But I didn’t know what.

No, I had to use the tools available to me to dramatically change the opinions and ideas and attitudes that were coming flowing into my mental life. And it had become clear that, though I have an RSS feed and I peruse certain websites and publications regularly, though I still read lots of books and physical journals and magazines, the opinions I was receiving were coming overwhelmingly through social media. People shared things and commented on what they shared on Facebook and Twitter, they made clear what ideas were permissible and what weren’t on Facebook and Twitter, they defined the shared mental world on Facebook and Twitter. They created a language that, if you weren’t paying attention, looked like the lingua franca. I’m sure there are people out there who can take all of this in with the proper perspective and not allow it to subtly shape your perception of social attitudes writ large. But I can’t.

It’s all particularly disturbing because a lot of what you see and don’t online is the product of algorithms that are blunt instruments at best.

So I set about disconnecting, temporarily, from certain people, groups, publications, and conversations. I found voices that popped up in my feeds a lot and muted them. I unfollowed groups and pages. I looked out for certain markers of status and social belonging and used them as guides for what to avoid. I was less interested in avoiding certain subjects than I was in avoiding certain perspectives, the social frames that we all use to understand the world. The news cycle was what it was; I could not avoid Trump, as wonderful as that sounds. But I could avoid a certain way of looking at Trump, and at the broader world. In particular I wanted to look past what we once called ideology: I wanted to see the ways in which my internet-mediated intellectual life was dominated by assumptions that did not recognize themselves as assumptions, to understand how the perspective that did not understand itself to be a perspective had distorted my vision of the world. I wanted to better see the water in which my school of fish swims.

Now this can be touchy – mutually connecting with people on social media has become a loaded thing in IRL relationships, for better or worse. Luckily both Facebook and Twitter give you ways to not see someone’s posts without them knowing and without severing the connection. Just make a list of people, pages, and publications that you want to take a diet from, and after a month or two of seeing how different things look, go back to following them. (Alternatively: don’t.) Really do it! The tools are there, and you can always revert back. Just keep a record of what you’re doing.

I was prepared for this to result in a markedly different online experience for me, and for it to somewhat change my perception of what “everyone” thinks, of what people are reading, watching, and listening to, etc. But even so, I’ve been floored by how dramatically different the online world looks with a little manipulation of the feeds. A few subjects dropped out entirely; the Twin Peaks reboot went from being everywhere to being nowhere, for example. But what really changed was the affect through which the world was presenting itself to me.

You would not be surprised by what my lenses appear to have been (and still largely to be): very college educated, very left-leaing, very New York, very media-savvy, very middlebrow, and for lack of a better word, very “cool.” That is, the perspective that I had tried to wean myself off of was made up of people whose online self-presentation is ostentatiously ironic, in-joke heavy, filled with cultural references that are designed to hit just the right level of obscurity, and generally oriented towards impressing people through being performatively not impressed by anything. It was made up of people who are passionately invested in not appearing to be passionately invested in anything. It’s a sensibility that you can trace back to Gawker and Spy magazine and much, much further back than that, if you care to.

Perhaps most dramatic was the changes to what – and who – was perceived as a Big Deal. By cutting out a hundred voices or fewer, things and people that everybody talks about became things and people that nobody talks about. The internet is a technology for creating small ponds for us to all be big fish in. But you change your perspective just slightly, move over just an inch, and suddenly you get a sense of just how few people know about you or could possibly care. It’s oddly comforting, to be reminded that even if you enjoy a little internet notoriety, the average person on the street could not care less who you are or what you do. I recommend it.

Of course, there are profound limits to this. My feeds are still dominantly coming from a few overlapping social cultures. Trimming who I’m following hasn’t meant that I’m suddenly connected to more high school dropouts, orthodox Jews, senior citizens, or people who don’t speak English. I would never pretend that this little exercise has given me a truly broad perspective. The point has just been to see how dramatically a few changes to my digital life could alter my perception of “the conversation.” And it’s done that. More than ever, I worry that our sense of shared political assumptions and the perceived immorality of the status quo is the result of systems that exclude a large mass of people, whose opinions will surely matter in the political wars ahead.

I am now adding some of what I cut back in to my digital life. The point was never really to avoid particular publications or people. I like some of what and who I had cut out very much. The point is to remain alive to how arbitrary and idiosyncratic changes in the constant flow of information can alter our perception of the human race. It’s something I intend to do once a year or so, to jolt myself back into understanding how limiting my perspective really is.

Everyone knows, these days, that we’re living in digitally-enabled bubbles. The trouble is that our instincts are naturally to believe that everyone else is in a bubble, or at least that their bubbles are smaller and with thicker walls. But people like me – college educated, living in an urban enclave, at least socially liberal, tuned in to arts and culture news and criticism, possessed of the vocabulary of media and the academy, “savvy” – you face unique temptations in this regard. No, I don’t think that this kind of bubble is the same as someone who only gets their news from InfoWars and Breitbart. But the fact that so many people like me write the professional internet, the fact that the creators of the idioms and attitudes of our newsmedia and cultural industry almost universally come from a very thin slice of the American populace, is genuinely dangerous.

To regain perspective takes effort, and I encourage you all to expend that effort, particularly if you are an academic or journalist. Your world is small, and our world is big."
freddiedeboer  2017  internet  twitter  facebook  filterbubbles  socialmedia  relationships  algorithms  echochambers  academia  journalism  culture  society  diversity  perspective  listening  web  media  feeds 
august 2017 by robertogreco
some thoughts on the humanities - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"The idea that underlies Bakhtin’s hopefulness, that makes discovery and imagination essential to the work of the humanities, is, in brief, Terence’s famous statement, clichéd though it may have become: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. To say that nothing human is alien to me is not to say that everything human is fully accessible to me, fully comprehensible; it is not to erase or even to minimize cultural, racial, or sexual difference; but it is to say that nothing human stands wholly outside my ability to comprehend — if I am willing to work, in a disciplined and informed way, at the comprehending. Terence’s sentence is best taken not as a claim of achievement but as an essential aspiration; and it is the distinctive gift of the humanities to make that aspiration possible.

It is in this spirit that those claims that, as we have noted, emerged from humanistic learning, must be evaluated: that our age is postmodern, posthuman, postsecular. All the resources and practices of the humanities — reflective and critical, inquiring and skeptical, methodologically patient and inexplicably intuitive — should be brought to bear on these claims, and not with ironic detachment, but with the earnest conviction that our answers matter: they are, like those master concepts themselves, both diagnostic and prescriptive: they matter equally for our understanding of the past and our anticipating of the future."
alanjacobs  posthumanism  2016  humanities  understanding  empathy  postmodernism  postsecularism  georgesteiner  kennethburke  foucault  stephengrenblatt  via:lukeneff  erikdavis  raykurzweil  claudeshannon  mikhailbakhtin  terence  difference  comprehension  aspiration  progress  listening  optimism  learning  inquiry  history  future  utopia  michelfoucault 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Saying ‘No’ to Best Practices – OFFICE OF DIGITAL LEARNING
"The worst best practice is to adhere to, or go searching for, best practices. I have been in countless rooms with teachers, technologists, instructional designers, and administrators calling for recommendations or a list of tools they should use, strategies that work, practices that cannot fail to produce results in the classroom. But digital tools, strategies, and best practices are a red herring in digital learning. Learning always starts with people. Instead of asking “What tool will we need?” ask “What behaviors will need to be in place?”

I emphasize and encourage a critical digital pedagogy—an approach to learning that grows from the work of writers and teachers like bell hooks and Paulo Freire, and that recognizes that in today’s world all learning is hybrid. But that approach never starts with the digital. It starts with the human. And I find that the most effective application of Critical Digital Pedagogy arises from a place of kindness, trust, and belief in students. With student (and teacher) agency as its aim, Critical Digital Pedagogy asks its practitioners to always, first and foremost, acknowledge that we are all in this room together—whether that room is a classroom or the whole wide web—and to act accordingly.

At a teaching workshop I was facilitating recently, I was pressed to offer a list of best practices. This is what I came up with. I offer these 10 best practices with what should seem like an obvious caveat. No best practices should ever go untested. I personally have tested each of these, but because learning and teaching are not homogenous experiences for everyone, I don’t encourage anyone to follow a best practice that doesn’t suit them.

Sean’s 10 Best Practices

Be yourself

While working with a group at the University of Delaware, I spoke to a graduate teacher whose upbringing in a Southern Baptist tradition sometimes leads her to present in her “preaching voice.” This is an authentic voice, and one that she’s very comfortable using; however, other teachers joke about it, or malign this aspect of her embodiment as un-academic. In digital spaces, she edits herself, creating a teacherly presence much more normative, almost unidentifiable as her.

In digital spaces, we tend to adopt mannerisms and a personality that are not entirely true to who we are. Be suspect of that, and watchful for it. In a classroom, we may perform ourselves in certain ways, but we are fallible, unedited, and vulnerable. These qualities make us better teachers. Don’t be afraid to be who you are in a digital environment as much as you are in your classroom.

Create trust / Be trusting

Jesse Stommel, Executive Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies at the University of Mary Washington says,
Learning is always a risk. It means, quite literally, opening ourselves to new ideas, new ways of thinking. It means challenging ourselves to engage the world differently. It means taking a leap, which is always done better from a sturdy foundation. This foundation depends on trust — trust that the ground will not give way beneath us, trust for teachers, and trust for our fellow learners in a learning community.

Critical pedagogy assumes that students want and are motivated to learn. Only about 75% of teachers I’ve talked to feel this way. We need to change that for ourselves. Teaching is not only more effective when we trust students to learn (which I distinguish from following instructions or passing a test), but it’s also more fun, more satisfying, and less exhausting.

Grade less / Grade differently

Peter Elbow writes, “Grading tends to undermine the climate for teaching and learning. Once we start grading their work, students are tempted to study or work for the grade rather than for learning.” We all know this is true. Working for a grade undermines not only a lifelong attitude toward learning, but also student agency. A critical pedagogy asks us to reconsider grading entirely; and if we can’t abandon it whole-hog, then we must revise how and why we grade. Consider allowing students to grade themselves. Offer personal feedback on work instead of a letter, number, or percentage. There are lots of options to evaluating work without artificial markers.

Question deadlines

When pressed, most teachers have told me that they enforce deadlines because students will need to meet deadlines in the “real world.” There are no students in higher education who got there without meeting deadlines. Education need not be militaristic about deadlines. Ideas and creation are more important than timeliness. I wrote, in my post called “Late Work,”

We are put in the most unique spot of coaching learners into a world of knowledge. What we need to remember is that their world of knowledge may not align perfectly with our own, their process may not fit our schedules, their ideas may not synch with our own.

Think about what you are actually teaching and question whether you need deadlines, whether students need deadlines, and whether either of you benefit from them.

Collaborate with students

Learners are pedagogues in their own right. Chris Friend, Director of the Hybrid Pedagogy journal, writes:
If we give students the freedom to choose their own path, they might choose poorly or make mistakes on our watch. But we must be willing to allow them the challenge of this authority, the dignity of this risk, and the opportunity to err and learn from their mistakes. They learn and gain expertise through experimentation.

If pedagogy is the sole purview of the instructor in the room, students are asked to follow along a path predetermined by that instructor’s best (we hope) intentions. However, because students bring different levels of expertise to any material or discussion—and because their lives, identities, and intersectionality inform their learning—students should be as involved in their own learning as possible. From syllabus creation to grading, building rubric and assignments to self-assessment. As Daniel Ginsberg writes, “my students are the most central members of the community in which I learn critical pedagogy.”

Inspire dialogue

Very little can be accomplished through direct instruction. Bloom’s Taxonomy makes a show of positioning knowledge-level learning as the foundation of any learning experience. But learning is more chaotic, messier, and more confounding than taxonomies provide for. In “Beyond Rigor,” Jesse Stommel, Pete Rorabaugh, and I argue that:
Intellectually rigorous work lives, thrives, and teems proudly outside conventional notions of academic rigor. Although institutions of higher education only recognize rigor when it mimics mastery of content, when it creates a hierarchy of expertise, when it maps clearly to pre-determined outcomes, there are works of exception — multimodal, collaborative, and playful — that push the boundaries of disciplinary allegiances, and don’t always wear their brains on their sleeves, so to speak.

Simply put, learning happens outside the lines. It’s perfectly acceptable for instructors to provide lines, but whenever we do so, we must just as diligently encourage learners to leave those lines—to question, to redraw, to imagine, to refuse, to explore. When we do this, we inspire dialogue, not just between students, but between ourselves and students, between ideas, between the act of learning and the act of instruction themselves.

Be quiet

Generally speaking, teachers fear dead air. Silence in the classroom, or few to no responses on a discussion forum, can stir all kinds of thoughts and emotions—from “they’re not getting it” to “I’ve done something wrong” to “they’re bored,” and worse. But in truth, thoughtfulness and thoroughness takes time.

Janine DeBaise writes that: “Every student has something valuable to teach the rest of us. I’ve made that assumption for over thirty years now, and so far, I’ve never been proven wrong.” If at the core of critical pedagogy we believe that learners are their own best teachers—and if we have spent any time at all as teachers ourselves preparing lesson plans and discussions—then we can acknowledge that teaching takes time.

Filling silence may come out of a desperation to keep the class moving and to ensure that all ideas are understood, but it also reinforces the teacher’s voice as primary. When we are silent, we can hear what students have to say (even when they’re not saying it), and listen for the swell of understanding as it builds.

Be honest and transparent about pedagogy

Teaching isn’t magic. In fact, there are very good reasons for teachers to reveal their “tricks” to learners. I have, numerous times, sat on the desk at the front of the classroom and called attention to how that’s different to standing behind a podium, sitting in a circle with the class, or lecturing from notes. Not to qualify one over the other, but to reveal something about the performativity of learning and teaching.

Similarly, we should invite students into a discussion about the syllabus, the 15- or 10-week structure of a course, the usefulness or uselessness of grades, etc. Kris Shaffer, in “An Open Letter to My Students,” brings students in close to his teaching process:
I am not perfect. Nor are any of your other professors. We are experts in the fields we teach, and some of us are experts in the art of teaching. However, we make mistakes … and each pass through the material brings new students with different experiences, backgrounds, skills, sensitivities, prejudices, loves, career goals, life goals, financial situations, etc. There is no one way — often not even a best way — to teach a topic to a student.

There is power in secrecy, as any magician knows. But for a collaborative, critical pedagogy to work, that power must be shared.

Keep expectations clear

In digital learning, instructions are vital. If … [more]
bestpractices  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  2017  seanmorris  learning  edtech  digitalliteracy  jessestommel  criticalpedagogy  sfsh  grade  grading  howwelearn  deadlines  collaboration  chrisfriend  hybridpedagogy  dialogue  peterorabaugh  rigor  janinedebaise  silence  quiet  listening  performativity  expectations  adamheidebring-bruno  change  thomaskasulis  maggiemaclure  krisshaffer  amycollier  jenross 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Connections, Not Consequences | Edutopia
"Consider the answers to these questions: Does my teacher. . .

• Know what I'm afraid of?
• Know what I'm proud of?
• Know what I'm anxious to talk about?
• Recognize my interests, dreams and disappointments?
• Openly share who he or she is?
• Know me?

If not, we're viewed as someone trying to wield power, and we become yet another enemy to be resisted."



"Make it a daily priority to:

• Greet tough kids in a friendly way: "Good to see you."
• Get to know how they are outside of class: "What do you like to do when you aren't in school?"
• Learn about their hopes: "If you could spend more time with someone, who would it be?"
• Learn about their dreams: "When I was a kid, I remember wanting to be a fireman. What about you?"
• Share your own story of successes and failures.

Even with all of this, most kids will continue to visit their old behaviors as they are acquiring new ones. So expect backsliding, and when it occurs, view it as a sign that positive changes are beginning to take hold."



"Good discipline should be a trigger for reflection and insight, not an action that results solely in pain or pleasure. In his book The Village Way, Chaim Peri speaks of the DNA of effective discipline -- meaningful punishment as a process of dialogue, negotiation, and agreement (DNA). While the following approach to promote an apology is more time-consuming, it's also more likely to promote empathy and insight:
Matthew, how do you feel when someone says nasty, hurtful things to you? What would you want that person to say or do that might make you feel better? I know I'd feel upset and maybe mad, and I'd want someone to apologize and really mean it. Unless you can think of a different way to make things better, I think a good start would be apologizing to Briana for the hurt you caused. I also wonder if moving your card from green to yellow would help you remember not to say that again. What do you think?

Initiating this kind of dialogue with a youngster who breaks rules requires that we share how the behavior is problematic for us, others, or the student. This affords the student an opportunity to explore other ways of getting his needs met. It's an opportunity to let him see you as someone who sets limits, yet can also share the personal experience of remembering when adults set limits for you. By doing this, you encourage input from and possible negotiation with the student, leading to agreement."
classideas  discipline  consequences  2016  dialog  negotiation  agreement  listening 
june 2017 by robertogreco
10 ways to have a better conversation
"Celeste Headlee is an expert in talking to people. As part of her job as a public radio host and interviewer, she talks to hundreds of people each year, teasing from her guests what makes them interesting. At a TEDx conference two years ago, Headlee shared 10 tips for having a better conversations that work for anyone:

1. Don’t multitask.
2. Don’t pontificate.
3. Use open-ended questions.
4. Go with the flow.
5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs.
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
8. Stay out of the weeds.
9. Listen.
10. Be brief.

Watch the video for the explanations of each point. I’m pretty good on 1, 5, & 7 while I struggle with 3, 4, and sometimes 6. 9 is a constant struggle and depends on how much I’ve talked with other people recently."
conversation  classideas  listening  howto  tutorials  celesteheadlee  multitasking  pontification  questionasking  questioning  flow  notknowing  uncertainty  experience  repetition  brevity 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Unbroken | Music for Deckchairs
"Fault is the shadow thrown by the magic bean we sell as the means of clambering up to a future in which not everyone can win. This bean is something to do with making an effort, toughing it out, following the rules. Resilience, grit—we peddle all sorts of qualities demanded when the world is harsh. And I think this is why we monitor attendance as a kind of minor virtue, a practice of grit. But when we make showing up compulsory, then we have to have a system of checking it, and penalties, and some means of managing something we call “genuine” adversity, and the whole thing has to be insulated against complaint. (And if you want to know more about how this goes down, this forum is an eye-opener.)

Where I am we have a fixed tolerance for not showing up 20% of the time, which has the rat farming perverse incentive effect of causing every sensible student to calculate that they have two free tutorials they can plan to miss. And I’ve written this all over the place, so just bear with me while I haul out my soapbox one more time: we then ask students to get a GP certificate for every single additional missed class over the two free passes, which means that we are clogging up the waiting rooms and schedules of our overworked public health bulk billed GP clinics in order to sustain a rigid and penalty-driven policy that doesn’t prepare students for their professional futures, while they’re sneezing all over the really sick people around them.

(University business data divisions currently measuring every passing cloud over the campus, why not measure this? How many GP certificates for trivial illness have your attendance policies generated? How much public health time have you wasted pursuing this?)

Just quietly, I take a different approach. We talk about modelling attendance on the professional experience of attending meetings, including client meetings. If you can’t be there, you let people know in advance. If you can’t be there a lot, this will impact on your client’s confidence in you, or your manager’s sense that you are doing a good job. It may come up in performance management. Your co-workers may start to feel that you’re not showing up for them. Opportunities may dry up a bit, if people think of you as someone who won’t make a reliable contribution.

And at work there won’t always be a form, but you will need a form of words. You need to know how to talk about what you’re facing with the relevant people comfortably and in a timely way, ideally not after the fact of the missed project deliverable. If hidden challenges are affecting your participation now, you can expect some of these to show up again when you’re working. University should be the safe space to develop confidence in talking about the situation you’re in, and what helps you manage it most effectively. You need a robust understanding of your rights in law. And, sadly, you also need to understand that sometimes the human response you get will be uninformed, ungenerous or unaware of your rights, and you’ll need either to stand your ground or call for back up.

To me, this is all that’s useful about expecting attendance. It’s an opportunity for us to talk with students about showing up as a choice that may be negotiable if you know how to ask; about presence and absence as ethical practices; and about the hardest conversations about times when you just can’t, and at that point need to accept the kindness that’s shown to you, just as you would show it to others."



"To sustain compassionate workplaces, we’re going to need to do more than dashboard our moods in these simplistic ways and hurry on. We’re going to need to “sit with the rough edges of our journey”, as Kevin Gannon puts it, to understand how we each got here differently, in different states of mind, and to hold each other up with care.

This will take time."
katebowles  via:audreywatters  2017  education  absences  attendance  kindness  grit  seanmichaelmorris  lizmorrish  kevingannon  fault  compulsory  rules  incentives  unintendedconsequences  flexibility  listening  resilience  adversity  compliance  virtue  tolerance  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  us  conversation  compassion  work 
may 2017 by robertogreco
On losing John Berger | 226 Autumn 2017 | Alison Croggon | Overland literary journal
"Today I read that you had died.

I can’t stop the ache in my throat, the breaking pressure in my chest, even though you are no more absent to me now than you have ever been. I only knew you through your writing: novels, essays, poems – and once a letter, written in blue biro on the back of a bill, in response to one of mine.

I wish I had met you. In a way, I did: I met you through the particular intimacy you offer every reader. It’s an intimacy that always holds the necessary space. You write words with air around them, words in which another might find herself and thus find the world. Your writing always turns us outwards, to our own worlds and to the worlds in which others live.

When I think of you, I think of water. Your work wells out of broken ground and flows with increasing vigour towards an uncertain horizon; a deepening confluence of clear energies, gathering into itself all the colours of the skies it runs beneath. It’s your reticence, your fierce honesty, your humour, your courteous attention to all things. The transparencies of the self you lay down on paper. For you, everything holds the same unending miracle of being. You listen to stones and to children; you are as fascinated by the making of soup as by the complexities of art. Every thing is holy.

So often you surprise me with tears. Not because you manipulate emotions, but because you do the opposite: you invite a recognition of feeling that rises innocently through layers of scars, illuminating the present beauties that surround us always – even in the darker times, even in the darker places. Some people say you are sentimental because you are so unafraid of the naked expression of feeling, but they are wrong. You know there is no division between intellect and feeling. You understand that, just as feeling without intelligence is a reduction of human capacity, intellect without feeling is warped and truncated, a damaged and damaging thing.

For a Marxist, you are an exemplary Christian. I think the only human hierarchy you respect is from Corinthians: So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Your work is always, in the most unillusioned of ways, about love. It is love stripped of the sentimental glaze that transforms it into a lie, love that embraces without possession, love that knows how to let go, how to suffer, how to leave, how to celebrate, how to laugh. You know laughter is a resistance against the worst things.

That is why we, your readers, love you.

You are never above anything. You always insist on holding open the space of beauty, unembarrassed by its extravagance or humility, attentive to all its motley and various hues, its grandeurs, its minutiae. You understand the eye’s desire to colonise and possess, the rapacious claim the gaze makes over everything it sees, and you resist everything that means. You show instead how the eye might become a generous organ, how perception might be a conduit of quiet attention, a witness to a relationship that is always transient and mortal, a space in which everything is permitted to exist in its own time, for its own reasons.

You obey every human imperative except power. Perhaps that is what I most admire. So few of us are able to extricate ourselves from that spiritual criminality; so few of us can see the world freed from that distorting lens. Without ever claiming a lack of complicity – something that is available to none of us – you say no. Your denunciation is absolute. You chronicle the murderous, soul-killing ideologies of our time. You turn and listen to those who have no power, and you never judge them. But for those who have power, for those whose greed is closing its fist over our planet, for those whose only measure of worth is money, your judgment is pitiless.

I am so sad today, but it is a selfish mourning. It is me I mourn – the me who lived in a world where you too were breathing. You lived generously and lovingly, awake to the end. I wish we may all live so well. Now you will always exist in the present tense. Your gifts remain, not to be mourned, but to be taken and used. The world is not darker because you have died. It is brighter because you were alive."
2017  johnberger  alisoncroggon  listening  writing  marxism  christianity  resistance  learning  humility  grace  power 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Christopher Emdin SXSWedu 2017 Keynote - YouTube
"Merging theory and practice, connecting contemporary issues to historical ones, and providing a deep analysis on the current state of education, Dr. Emdin ushers in a new way of looking at improving schools and schooling. Drawing from themes in his New York Times Bestselling book, and the latest album from rap group A Tribe Called Quest, Emdin offers insight into the structures of contemporary schools, and highlights major issues like the absence of diversity among teachers, the ways educators of color are silenced in schools, the absence of student voice in designing teaching and learning, and a way forward in addressing these issues."
christopheremdin  education  2017  sxswedu2017  schools  diversity  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  studentvoice  listening  socialjustice  service  atribecalledquest  dinka  culture  adjustment  maladjustment  ptsd  psychology  voice  transcontextualism  johndewey  doctorseuss  traditions  children  race  racism  trauma  trayvonmartin  violence  schooling  schooltoprisonpipeline  technology  edtech  pedagogy  disenfranchisement  technosolutionism  commoncore  soul  liberation  conversation  paulofreire  credentialism  stem  coding  economics  expectations  engagement  neweconomy  equity  justice  humility  quantification  oppression  whitesupremacy  cosmopolitanism  hiphoped  youthculture  hiphop  youth  teens  appropriation  monetization  servicelearning  purpose  context  decontextualization  tfa  courage  inequality  inequity  normalization  community  curriculum  canon  complexity  chaos  nuance  teachforamerica  transcontextualization 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Boris Anthony 🕸 📚 on Twitter: "Debate = Finite game Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser Discussion = Infinite game Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser"
"Debate = Finite game
Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser
Discussion = Infinite game
Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser

In debate, opponents seek to turn the other into one of them—thus destroying the other—by arguing rationales & perceptions.

In discussion, participants seek to combine and expand each other into something greater by sharing rationales & perceptions."
conversation  debate  discussion  borisanthony  2017  competition  collaboration  cooperation  listening  sharing  perception  unfinished  infinite  finite 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The Seattle Review of Books - Here is a movie to remind you why you love reading and writing
"A lot of great movies adapted from written works have been released over the last month or so. Silence is a complex and challenging and ultimately rewarding adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about the demands and responsibilities of faith. Fences is one of the most harrowing family dramas I’ve seen in years, with career-best performances from Denzel Washington and, especially, Viola Davis.

But one original movie in theaters right now, not adapted from a book or play, is a surprising tribute to the importance of the written word. I’m talking about Jim Jarmusch’s new film Paterson, and I’m telling you: if you love books and poetry and writing, you have to see this movie as soon as possible.

Paterson’s premise sounds like the setup for a limerick: Adam Driver stars as Paterson, a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. The film follows a week in his life, and not a whole lot, really, happens. Paterson is a man who likes his rituals: he walks the dog to the bar every night, and he writes a few lines of poetry into his notebook in the morning, and he likes to sit in the same spot and watch the water go over Paterson Falls. He and his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) live a quiet life that is mostly content. They could use a little more money, sure, but who couldn’t?

Paterson is a film of echoes. Certain themes repeat themselves over and over: fire, twins, rain. Paterson admires the poetry of William Carlos Williams, the city of Paterson’s most famous literary resident, and Williams’ work reverberates through the film as well. (Williams wrote an epic poem about the city also titled Paterson.) These little instances accrue into a fuller portrait, a pointillist masterpiece.

Paterson doesn’t write his poetry for the sake of immortality. He writes poetry because it’s how he processes the world. Driver reads the lines over and over in a halting voice as Paterson writes in his notebook and the handwritten words appear on screen. We see him sitting in his small office, lined with books by Williams and David Foster Wallace and Frank O’Hara, as he struggles to get the words just so. He seems to meet poets around every street corner: everyone is recording the universe in careful handwriting on lined paper in secret notebooks.

Paterson made me happier than any movie I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s a movie about art for the sake of art, a movie about writing and reading for no reason but for the pleasure of writing and reading. Paterson’s life inspires his art, which in turn inspires his life. There’s probably no big break around the corner for him. He’s probably not going to get a big thick hardcover anthology of his work. But he does it anyway, because he has to, and because it makes him better.

Trust me: you don’t want to half-watch Paterson on your couch while idly flicking through your phone. This is a movie to watch in the theater. Afterward, take public transit home. Bring a book of poetry to read on the bus or the train. Eavesdrop on some conversations. There’s art everywhere — you just have to be ready to receive it."
paterson  jimjarmusch  fil  towatch  poetry  everyday  notebooks  attention  mundane  paulconstant  2017  williamcarloswilliams  understanding  thinking  whywewrite  happiness  howwewrite  writing  words  notetaking  observation  listening  art  life  living  reading  artleisure  leisurearts 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger and Susan Sontag / To Tell A Story (1983) - YouTube
"John Berger and Susan Sontag exchange ideas on the 'lost art' of storytelling, 1983."

[via: "Art for him was never something apart from the business of being alive. He was grounded. He struck me as a man who was both supremely astute and perceptive, and a sentimentalist. He could be a wonderfully engaging companion. A 1983 television debate with Susan Sontag – both wrestling with what a story could be – remains electrifying, mostly because they were both struggling with thoughts and ideas rather than trading certainties."
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/02/adrian-searle-on-john-berger-art-for-him-was-never-apart-from-being-alive ]
johnberger  susansontag  1983  storytelling  oral  oraltradition  howwethink  thinking  companionship  listening  conversation  certainty  uncertainty  conformity  reality  absurdity  meaning  fantasy 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Letter: John Berger’s European haunts | Books | The Guardian
"In 1974, at the start of his marriage to Beverly Bancroft, he moved to Quincy, the agricultural village in the Alps that was to remain their family home. I first met John in the same year, as one of the four founders of the Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative. John was one of several established writers who decided that small publishing, with decision-making in the hands of those who actually made what the industry sold, was a good thing.

He enjoyed collaboration. While he did not put money into the group, he made its financial existence easier by not taking advances when books were published, and was there to advise, finding pleasure in going to meetings when he was in London. I imagine it was a similar pleasure to that he took in being part of the community in Quincy, where everyone participated in haymaking, and John’s table was ever busy with neighbours deliberating on problems or engaging in that gossip which is also storytelling.

Writers and Readers started an art list, republishing Berger’s backlist, including A Painter of Our Time. There was also the brilliant A Fortunate Man – standard reading for all GPs – and his new books. In the way of 1970s collectives, the organisation fell apart in the early 80s. But John and I remained fast friends. We didn’t always agree on politics, but his sense of justice was ever an inspiration and his volcanic laugh a joy. We even went on to win the Scott Moncrieff prize for literary translation together, for Nella Bielski’s The Year Is ’42 (2004).

When I published Losing the Dead (2014), a memoir about my parents’ war and its aftermath, he gave me a drawing he had made inspired by Rembrandt’s The Polish Rider. He was extraordinarily generous, and paid singular attention to young writers and artists, let alone to people needing a hand or a lift. A true listener, he said it was what his storytelling was all about. He listened with an ear for everything, not only what was spoken. And he managed in his encounters and in his stories, as well as his essays, somehow to confront despair and turn it into hope."
johnberger  generosity  publishing  2017  mentorship  attention  listening  lisaappignanesi  collaboration  friendship  europe  politics  hope  despair 
january 2017 by robertogreco
I do not recognise the stereotype of John Berger as a dour Marxist – his work embodied hope | Books | The Guardian
"John Berger had the most amazing eyes. I do not mean that in the abstract, though it is true; his way of seeing the world has become part of the way we understand visual culture. I am thinking simply of those great baby blues. He was never not looking. He was a painter and he took up photography at one point but gave it up because once you have taken a picture “you stop looking at what you’ve shot. I was more interested in looking. I think I gave my camera away.”

When I heard he’d died at the great age of 90, of course I thought of his eyes, of what it was like to have them focused on you – he did that to everyone, it was absolutely compelling. To be human for him meant always seeing, listening, exchanging.

He wrote to me out of the blue when I was a film critic. It was the most brilliant letter of warmth and encouragement that had me floating with joy. He wrote many such letters to many people. It is what he did, that old-fashioned thing: engagement.

He wrote to me about the nature of criticism. Like many, I was interested in criticism as a result of his work, because of the idea that criticism could be radical, that it was a conversation not an evaluation. Yes, that remains idealistic as we live in a world where criticism is debased to stars, to a TripAdvisor mentality that requires no thought or knowledge whatsoever, the precursor to the sneering at experts mentality.

But in 1972 Berger had shown what could be achieved. His TV series and book, Ways of Seeing, remain revelatory. He blew up everything we thought we “knew” about art and its reproduction. He said: “The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled”, freeing up a space for us to wonder about meaning. This is quite beautiful to me still, this wondering.

A letter from Berger was an invitation to be somehow involved in one of his myriad projects – a film, a novel, an idea – so I did meet him, but more often we talked on the phone. Not about geopolitics, though of course he was one of the first people to grasp that migration, “forced or chosen, across national frontiers or from village to metropolis”, was “the quintessential experience of our time”. Instead, he might call to ask how best to describe dreadlocks (dreads or locks?), or about my children, or what colour I was painting the kitchen. This amuses me now, this chatting about the details, but he always wanted the details. The everyday was not trivial to him.

That may be why I simply do not recognise him in some of the snippy obits in which he has been reduced to the stereotype of the dour Marxist. He was the complete opposite. I guess the challenge he presented still stands. Nor is he reducible to a methodology of decoding. This is to miss all his stories, poems and thinking that were so grounded in the material. One does not have to like all his work or agree with his various political stances (many could not stomach his stance on Rushdie) to see his significance is huge.

In any situation where political power was in play, his very instinct was to side with the powerless. He was undeniably a romantic. But everything went back to experience in the end.

Episode two of Ways of Seeing remains seared on my mind. Remarkable television, so far from how the 70s is now often envisioned. Here, Berger talks about the difference between being naked and nude, explaining who owns the gaze – men. Men act and women appear. He talks of how women always survey themselves, even in moments of grief. Then, halfway through the programme, he says that he has shown images of women but not heard their voices so hands over the discussion to a group of women, while he listens and smokes.

Here then are the beginnings of understanding how visual culture – art, TV, film, advertising – depicts women for the presumed male spectator/owner’s pleasure. Feminists took this much further and still use these insights. No wonder Kenneth Clark, Auberon Waugh, Stephen Spender et al – the old elite – did not like Berger. This was an oppositional reading of “their” culture.

Berger’s way of seeing, I came to understand, was a way of being. Here was a public intellectual who never divvied up the world into “politics” and “culture”, a learned man who shied away from academia but could talk to anyone. He knew observation has consequences. He knew that not from theory but because he rode a motorbike.

As he trained his eyes and his ears on whoever he was with, this intense listening meant he was a wonderful storyteller of searing moral clarity. He always seemed to know, implicitly, that protest and anger derive from hope. His work embodies the hope involved in our everyday human exchanges, whatever the circumstances. His very being radiated it.

“Hope,” he once said, “is a contraband passed from hand to hand and story to story.” What contraband. What treasure. I am for ever grateful for it."
johnberger  suzannemoore  2017  hope  marxism  storytelling  listening  seeing  power  powerlessness  politics  waysofseeing  wonder  wondering  engagement  criticism  feminism  kennethclark  auberonwaugh  stephenspender 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
#183: On independence, part 3
"Last week I wrote about the myth of the independent artist—about how even going solo comes with its own systems and processes. I focused largely on the side of the myth that involves operation, and dissemination. This week I want to talk more from the other side—from the side of creative freedom.

One part of the myth involves how art is made in the first place—that it’s a matter of having an idea, and putting atoms to it, making it materialize out of thin air. Or not even thin air, but the thinnest air—in a vacuum. If the creator has complete freedom (or control), the myth goes, then that vision will be realized.

If you’ve been getting my letters for a while, you can probably already guess: it doesn’t work like this in practice. The making of art is less an explosion in a vacuum than it is the growth of a tree in the forest. We share a common soil and air; we respond to the shade of other trees; we look for gaps into which to grow. We exist in the world, in the culture, and the art we make is reflective of our personal, psychological, social, physical, cultural ecosystems. The practice is the daily exchange we make between ourselves and our community; we inhale the world and exhale it, too—a photosynthesis, a conversion, conversation. The work is that conversation captured, distilled.

There is no such thing as total independence. When we talk about independence what we are really talking about is the authority to decide who and what to serve. Real independence is getting to pick your masters. It’s willing obedience to people and systems. It’s the acknowledgement of interdependence, the awareness that no one is entirely free from outside influence.

The creative environment most supportive of real independence—an established system or new and alternative systems—depends on the individual artist. The authority is an internal authority, yet it’s external, too—subject to its own influence. It’s circular in the way that all important things are.

I’m not sure if that makes sense. But I seem to have ended up where I usually end up, and that is: Don’t sweat the labels. Listen to the work. Listen to the world around you, and the world inside. They will, like they always do, tell you everything you need to know."
jackcheng  2017  independence  listening  choice  systems  process  art  interdependence 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Design, Tech & Privilege – Add Oil Comics – Medium
[See also these threads:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:0ceb1a2b5432
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:5f8229de3089

"An important and well-articulated discussion happened on Twitter earlier tonight about designers in tech and their privilege. We’ve excerpted my favorite parts (due to time constraints) and taken out the specific name references (to elevate this discussion beyond the individuals and for posterity)… hopefully we’ve managed to capture the energy of the original without losing too much."

Based on this thread

"Dope. I’m glad to hear that. However, I won’t be DMing you. This conversation needs to be public (starting a thread). Here’s why. (https://twitter.com/amelielamont/status/811260439158030336 @robynkanner @amelielamont I'm sure she is. My email and DM is always open.)

We are all human + we make mistakes. Most of us are so afraid of “being wrong/looking bad” in public. /2

That’s not the way to go. If we can take this as a learning opportunity for all, with an archive to boot, I’m for it. /3

I don’t go out of my way to call people like you (@vanschneider), @jongold, @hemeon, @DannPetty out publicly because I enjoy being angry. /4

Nor do I enjoy raising my blood pressure/potentially having a heart attack every time you do something problematic... /5

...but don’t want to listen to people who don’t look like you. /6

I call you out because I LOVE being a designer. I have tremendous respect for the work that we do + I hold it to a high standard. /7

I criticize designers because I love design + you should always be critical of that which you love. I expect the same from you. /8

I especially call out designers when they lack empathy + reason in their actions because that is exactly what is needed in order for... /9

...you to build products/tools that change people’s lives in small and large ways. /10

I criticize because I am disappointed to see people who I call designers, people whom I hold to high standards behave in a way that... /11

...is problematic but does not want to hear feedback or learn why said behavior is problematic. /12

Allow me to break down for you what I saw, from my perspective. I hope that we will all learn in the process + come to an understanding. /13

So @jongold made a joke. You responded to the joke + in your collaboration of the joke, the perception was one that was ableist... /14

...+ simply disrespectful of those who are different. /15

I personally saw it + my initial thought was “this is strange.” I have thoughts about “strange” products, too. But I take a moment to... /16

...think that maybe because something is “strange” to me, that might not be the case for others. /17

I have the capacity to think in this way because my career requires it of me, as does yours + @jongold’s. /18

Kristy pointed it out + you essentially told her to chill–that it was a joke. You wrote to her in all caps, which in Internet speak... /19

... is known to be “yelling”. @jedmund also pointed it out (albeit probably in a way that was unfavorable to you). /20
0 replies 3 retweets 32 likes

Instead of admitting that it was problematic, you deleted the tweet + accused the two of “drama.” /21

You aggressively doubled down on the two of them, both people of color. /22

Anytime a white, cishet man responded to you, you responded with gratitude + grace. This included Steward, Timothy, etc... /23

But the optics of aggression continued towards @jedmund + Kristy. /24

Obviously I don’t know your “intentions,” we’re all on tiny screens. But optics are important. /25

With 55k followers, you should know that better than anyone, @vanschneider. /26

Finally, the optics of you became petty when you pointed out that it’s “Hard to not be offended in 2016 I guess. Thin ice.” /27

That, in itself, was complete disregard of the optics of how you treated Kristy. /28

After that, @jongold continued the bad optics. He subtweeted by saying in a separate thread... /29

...“remember when Twitter was fun?”, after which I spoke up to address what I was seeing. /30

The overall optics of this is that you admitted that you were wrong only after multiple (white) people called you out, proceeded to... /31

...call the situation dramatic + then engaged in subtweeting with @jongold. /32

You additionally blocked people who "liked" the tweets I wrote directed towards you and Gold. Gold did the same + blocked me. /33

The optics for such actions says that you don’t accept criticism well, which is strange for a designer. /34

I’m not asking you to have thick skin. You’re allowed to feel hurt, but you need to take a good look at your actions + ask questions. /35

Honestly @jongold blocking me is even more shocking considering that he works for a company... /36

...that has been publicly called out because Black + Brown people have trouble booking spaces. /37

It is illogical to me for you to block a person of color, specifically a black woman when she says something that you... /38

...think hurts your feelings. Please. /39

You’re a designer at a company that *NEEDS* to be listening to what black/brown folks are saying b/c you’re designing tools for them. /40

As for the comment about your brother @vanschneider, I’ve seen you get into situations like this before, which is why I brought him up. /41

None of us have called you out as explicitly racist, but your words are laced w/ white supremacy. /42

Like it or not, you’re a product of the system. it benefits you. /43

For example, in the last Twitter row I witnessed w/ you, you brought up your black half-brother as the reason for you not being racist. /44

Point blank? Using another human being as an object (I've had this happen to me) is degrading. /45

Saying, "oh, I can't possibly be racist because I accept everyone as they are. I have a half-black brother." /46

This is problematic because in this situation, your brother is no longer a human being. /47

He is now an indirect object being used in order to disprove a negative trait that you believe society has labeled you with. /48

But what you fail to realize is that your brother's existence is separate from your own, as is every other PoC you interact with. /49

Just because they are in your life does not mean that you are neither racist nor have racist tendencies. /50

You need to understand that we live in a world that consists of a hierarchy + at the bottom of the hierarchy... /51

...is a constant devaluation of black + brown lives. (Which is why @jedmund wrote that Medium piece about tech.) /52

Our lives are so little valued that we these black + brown individuals somewhat assimilate into white society, we get things such as… /53

“You're not like those other black/brown people.” or a patronizing “Your English is so good!” /54

This means I have to think about literally every single action I take in this society if I want to advance because…of optics. /55

Even the interaction you have with me is privileged. If I talked in AAVE/patois online most of the people in tech + design... /56

...would want nothing to do with me or make assumptions about my intelligence (or lack thereof). /57

As a black woman (bottom of the hierarchy), I have the unfortunate circumstance of checking my bias in an upside T shape. /58

This means that in order to survive, I need to be able to check my biases (even the anti-black ones society has taught me). /59

I also have to try my best to understand (on some level), the struggles of other underrepresented groups, while also understanding... /60

...the biases + behaviors of those above me in the hierarchy. You don’t even know what it’s like to bear that weight. /61

And honestly? I don’t even have to be doing this. It’s a Tuesday. But you should be grateful that I’m taking the time to share with you. /62

Most people are not so patient. And I appreciate you being open (finally) to listening. /63

Don’t think I don’t understand on some level what you’re going through. You feel attacked. You feel hurt. /64

You don’t know why all of these people “lashed out at you”. Maybe you should just stop speaking. Why are people so upset? /65

Everyone else is usually so kind to you. That adoration doesn’t serve you in any way in terms of your growth. That’s why we’re here. /66

If people are upset, let them be–they will get over it. /67

The anger comes when you’re not receptive to conversation + willing to admit + own mistakes bc you’re so concerned about looking good. /68

The issue is when you double down w/o being open to learning. Or when you behave petulantly. /69

Or when you run away. Or when you don’t ask questions. Which is unlike a designer, much less a well-known one. /70

You’re setting a poor example. People expect better of you. We all do. /71

But we can’t progress w/o conflict/discomfort + willingness to learn from it. /72

So with that said, I hope you sincerely learned something from this, despite the discomfort @vanschneider. /73

The only way we can get better is through criticism. So I will continue to call you out + anyone else “famous” as I see fit. /74

Because, quite frankly, your status means nothing to me + I am happy to knock a little hubris out of you every now + then w/ words. /75

That’s it. Happy Tuesday! 👋🏾"
design  technology  privilege  race  gender  2016  amélielamont  jasonli  whitesupremacy  whiteprivilege  bias  biases  listening  status  hierarchy  racism 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Timothy Goodman on Twitter: "It’s been frustrating to watch WM designers come at @amelielamont as if she doesn’t know EXACTLY what she’s talking about. https://t.co/6BnxR8Oz7k"
"It’s been frustrating to watch WM designers come at @amelielamont as if she doesn’t know EXACTLY what she’s talking about. (https://twitter.com/amelielamont/status/812290210721632256 : Honestly, this is a thread for all WM designers who have been crying in my mentions this week.

Just read it + don’t @ me. 👇🏾 https://twitter.com/absurdistwords/status/812273180039643136 )

A couple weeks ago, Amélie & I sat down for a discussion for the @greatdiscontent, where we talked a lot about white privilege in design.

She & I have also had great discussions about this topic IRL. I have to keep learning as I keep using my platform to challenge myself & WM.

Whether that’s speaking up on Twitter, spending time/$$ on our anti-Trump initiatives, or listening to ppl who look diff than me.

Growing up in an all black neighborhood, I still didn’t know my privilege until later & I CRINGE at things I’ve said in public before.

No one is perfect, but as a WM w/an “audience," it’s my responsibility to keep listening & learning & checking myself. It's yours, too.

Looking at WM designers I’d admire, not much of their design/writing spoke to their times: Civil Rights? Vietnam? Crack epidemic? Iraq war?

One thing she & I talked about—a basic starting point for all WM—is: Do all your friends look like you? Do all your coworkers look like you?

Do all of the people you follow on social media look like you? Are all the movies/music/books you like made by people who look like you?

How can we even begin to understand the reality of marginalized people in America if we are not letting them be present in our lives?

If you’re not sure how, get your follow on. Amélie & my friends @robynkanner & @akilahobviously & @margejacobsen are a great start 👌🔥

Then you gotta do some real work. Whether that’s social, political or just interpersonal, you can start those dialogues. You'll lose friends

Unfortunately, white design guys only seem to listen to white design guys. Some will unfollow you bc you’re being a “burden”. Oh well.

Finally, it’s sadly NO surprise to see Amélie tweet 75 times at @vanschneider w/out any acknowledgment. This is but a microcosm of society."
timothygoodman  design  privilege  2016  amélielamont  greatdiscontent  change  listening  whiteprivilege  marginzalization  class  gender  race  dialog 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About - The New Yorker
"America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.

Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.

Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters.

Now is the time to discard that carefulness that too closely resembles a lack of conviction. The election is not a “simple racism story,” because no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.

Now is the time to recalibrate the default assumptions of American political discourse. Identity politics is not the sole preserve of minority voters. This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation. The denial of civil rights to black Americans had at its core the idea that a black American should not be allowed to vote because that black American was not white. The endless questioning, before the election of Obama, about America’s “readiness” for a black President was a reaction to white identity politics. Yet “identity politics” has come to be associated with minorities, and often with a patronizing undercurrent, as though to refer to nonwhite people motivated by an irrational herd instinct. White Americans have practiced identity politics since the inception of America, but it is now laid bare, impossible to evade.

Now is the time for the media, on the left and right, to educate and inform. To be nimble and alert, clear-eyed and skeptical, active rather than reactive. To make clear choices about what truly matters.

Now is the time to put the idea of the “liberal bubble” to rest. The reality of American tribalism is that different groups all live in bubbles. Now is the time to acknowledge the ways in which Democrats have condescended to the white working class—and to acknowledge that Trump condescends to it by selling it fantasies. Now is the time to remember that there are working-class Americans who are not white and who have suffered the same deprivations and are equally worthy of news profiles. Now is the time to remember that “women” does not equal white women. “Women” must mean all women.

Now is the time to elevate the art of questioning. Is the only valid resentment in America that of white males? If we are to be sympathetic to the idea that economic anxieties lead to questionable decisions, does this apply to all groups? Who exactly are the élite?

Now is the time to frame the questions differently. If everything remained the same, and Hillary Clinton were a man, would she still engender an overheated, outsized hostility? Would a woman who behaved exactly like Trump be elected? Now is the time to stop suggesting that sexism was absent in the election because white women did not overwhelmingly vote for Clinton. Misogyny is not the sole preserve of men.

The case for women is not that they are inherently better or more moral. It is that they are half of humanity and should have the same opportunities—and be judged according to the same standards—as the other half. Clinton was expected to be perfect, according to contradictory standards, in an election that became a referendum on her likability.

Now is the time to ask why America is far behind many other countries (see: Rwanda) in its representation of women in politics. Now is the time to explore mainstream attitudes toward women’s ambition, to ponder to what extent the ordinary political calculations that all politicians make translate as moral failures when we see them in women. Clinton’s careful calibration was read as deviousness. But would a male politician who is carefully calibrated—Mitt Romney, for example—merely read as carefully calibrated?

Now is the time to be precise about the meanings of words. Trump saying “They let you do it” about assaulting women does not imply consent, because consent is what happens before an act.

Now is the time to remember that, in a wave of dark populism sweeping the West, there are alternative forms. Bernie Sanders’s message did not scapegoat the vulnerable. Obama rode a populist wave before his first election, one marked by a remarkable inclusiveness. Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this."
chimamandangoziadichie  culture  politics  us  race  racism  donaldtrump  class  classism  responsibility  resistance  freedom  populism  climatechange  identitypolitics  berniesanders  media  workingclass  economics  listening  sexism  gender  misogyny  rwanda  mittromney  words  howwespeak  communication  consent  2016  elections  hillaryclinton 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Pauline Oliveros, pioneering avant-garde composer, RIP / Boing Boing
“In hearing, the ears take in all the sound waves and particles and deliver them to the audio cortex where the listening takes place," Oliveros once said. "We cannot turn off our ears–the ears are always taking in sound information–but we can turn off our listening. I feel that listening is the basis of creativity and culture. How you’re listening, is how you develop a culture and how a community of people listens, is what creates their culture.”

[via: http://roomthily.tumblr.com/post/153704843462/how-youre-listening-is-how-you-develop-a-culture ]

[See also: http://www.factmag.com/2016/11/25/pauline-oliveros-dies-deep-listening-composer/ ]
paulineoliveros  listening  deeplistening  culture  community  creativity  culturecreation  sfsh  communities  2016  hearning  sound 
november 2016 by robertogreco
An Evening with Lawrence Abu Hamdan | MoMA
"MoMA presents the US premiere of an “audio essay” by Beirut-based Jordanian-British artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, whose work attempts to trace and highlight the relationship between the act of listening and politics, human rights, international law and borders, testimony, and truth. Using audio documentaries and essays, as well as audiovisual installations, Abu Hamdan expresses his fascination with different types of listening at work in today’s legal and political forums. MoMA has recently acquired three important works dealing with similar themes: The Whole Truth, Conflicted Phonemes, and The Aural Contract Audio Archive.

In this new audio essay (a term the artist prefers to “lecture-performance”), he focuses on Saydnaya prison, near Damascus. Working with Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International, and the survivors of Saydnaya, Abu Hamdan captures “ear-witness accounts,” as detainees reconstruct events and the architecture of the prison they experienced through sound. The work raises pivotal questions about the politics of the field known as “forensic listening.”

The artist will be joined for a conversation by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a 2015–17 Vera List Center Fellow."

[Casey says:

"he’s… just about the smartest person ever… Super dense speaking/listening/visuals on secret prisons, gunshots, birds.

Precedent for the kind of surveillance we’re dealing with, he argued, isn’t ~the Panopticon~, but Cage’s 4’33 (Silence).

(Listening to foley reconstructions of military prison torture sounds for 2 hrs…"]

[See also:
"What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening - Keynote presentation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan"
https://vimeo.com/129018344

What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening
April 24 - 25, 2015
The New School, Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Auditorium
66 Fifth Avenue, New York City

What Now? 2015 is a two-day annual symposium, organized by Art in General in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, which investigates critical and timely issues in contemporary art. Dedicated to the topic of “The Politics of Listening,” the 2015 symposium comprises four panel discussions spanning Friday and Saturday, a keynote delivered by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, and a program of sound installations, audio works, film screenings, and performances.

For more information on What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening, visit:
artingeneral.org/exhibitions/592

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a multi-media artist with a background in DIY music. In 2015, he was the Armory Show commissioned artist and participated in the New Museum Triennial. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are made as part of the Forensic Architecture research project at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he is also a PhD candidate and associate lecturer. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at institutions such as The Showroom, London; Casco, Utrecht; Beirut, Cairo; and forthcoming at Kunsthalle St Gallen and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.]

[See also:
"LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN: Introduction"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8UAwxoeIi8

"VOICE ~ CREATURE OF TRANSITION

“[…] the voice is elusive, always changing, becoming, elapsing, with unclear contours […]“ – Mladen Dolar in: A Voice And Nothing More (2006)

Conference- festival that took place from 20-23 March, 2014 at De Brakke Grond, a theater space located in the heart of Amsterdam’s old city center.

Gabriëlle Schleijpen, head of Studium Generale Rietveld Academie invited  Lawrence Abu Hamdan, If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, Ruth Noack and Mark Beasley to each inaugurate a discursive and performative program of one day.

Thursday March 20

The Right To Silence, curated and presented by Lawrence Abu Hamdan

A daylong exploration of how voices are both heard and silenced; listening itself will be interpreted in its many forms and affects, allowing us to understand both the frontiers of the voice and the tireless battle to govern and contain it.

With contributions by Noah Angell, Ali Kaviani (Silent University), Anna Kipervaser, Maha Mamoun and Haytham El-Wardany, Kobe Matthys (Agence), Niall Moore, James Parker and Tom Rice."]

[And more:

"Artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan Demands the Right to Stay Silent"
http://www.vice.com/read/artist-lawrence-abu-hamdan-demands-the-right-to-stay-silent-981

"THE RIGHT TO SILENCE: An event series in three parts"
http://www.electra-productions.com/projects/2012/silence/overview.shtml

"Lawrence Abu Hamdan on Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself"
http://www.newmuseum.org/calendar/view/452/lawrence-abu-hamdan-s-contra-diction-speech-against-itself

"LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN: THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF SOUND AND SILENCE"
http://www.digicult.it/articles/lawrence-abu-hamdan-the-political-implications-of-sound-and-silence/

"The Right To Silence I"
http://www.theshowroom.org/events/the-right-to-silence-i

"The Right To Silence II"
http://www.theshowroom.org/events/the-right-to-silence-ii

"Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Aural Contract: The Freedom of Speech Itself"
http://www.theshowroom.org/exhibitions/lawrence-abu-hamdan-aural-contract-the-freedom-of-speech-itself
http://sound-art-text.com/post/34633829824/lawrence-abu-hamdan-aural-contract-the-freedom ]
via:caseygollan  lawrenceabuhamdan  listening  politcs  humanrights  tolisten  borders  law  internationallaw  testimony  truth  audio  politics  saysnayaprison  damascus  syria  amnestyinternational  forensiclistening  gunshots  birds  soundscapes  classideas  earwitnesses  hearing  anajanecski 
november 2016 by robertogreco
A Gadget for Every Need: Assistive Technology for Students | Edutopia
"Technology provides today’s students with an infinite number of distractions; mobile devices have literally put texting, Facebook, and addictive games at their fingertips. Although some educators might perceive this technology as a bane to classroom learning, it can actually be one of your most powerful educational tools.

All of your students can benefit from technology in the classroom, but new advancements have become particularly useful for those with special needs. Known as assistive technology (AT), these developments help level the playing field for students with special needs, giving them a greater chance at success in some of the more challenging areas.

Listening, Memory, and Organization

Listening and memorization are two difficult areas for many students. But there are many recording devices on the market that can help, including noise-canceling headphones and recording devices, such as tape recorders or students’ iPhones, that can be used to record lectures. Personal listening devices can also link students directly to their lecturers through a microphone and headset.

Even more specialized are AT devices like smartpens. These devices are used with special paper so students can write notes that correspond with verbal recordings. When students return to their written notes, they can touch the pen to the handwriting, and the pen will play back the corresponding recording. This eases the anxiety of having to listen intently while determining what’s most important to write down.

Enabling students to better organize their thoughts and assignments can significantly aid in comprehension, as well. Physical or digital color-coordinated daily planners are simple yet effective ways to get students organized. The advantage of digital organizers such as the iPhone organizer or software such as Info Select by Micro Logic is that students can set reminders with alarms and even add links to assignments to help them stay on track.

Math

Students struggling with math can also benefit from smartpens by linking their handwritten formulas and math problems with recorded instructions and tips.

Aligning math problems on paper is another challenge for some students with special needs, but putting those math problems on a computer screen with electronic math worksheets can alleviate that issue. Applications like MathPad allow students to write out problems on a tablet screen, and the program translates and aligns the writing into a more readable, solvable math problem. The student can also utilize the program’s special keyboard that includes clear mathematical symbols.

Calculators can also be difficult to handle, but with talking calculators such as Calc-U-Vue, students can double-check what they’ve entered and reiterate correct answers verbally, helping them focus on solving the problem rather than working the device.

Reading

Whether your students are visually impaired or struggle with comprehension, translating text into speech is a helpful function. There are many resources for audiobooks and publications, such as Audible, Bookshare, or your state library, where you can find a national database of audio publications via the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

If you can’t find a specific book or publication in audio form, computer software or separate handheld devices with optical character recognition can scan documents and read them aloud using speech synthesizers or screen readers. These can also read text that users type or copy and paste from other resources.

Writing

Most word-processing programs include proofreading software for spelling and grammar, but students with special needs often require more comprehensive AT tools for writing.

For students with underdeveloped motor skills, speech recognition programs allow users to speak into a microphone, and the program will translate those spoken words into text. Many software programs have both speech recognition and speech synthesizers built in so students can verbalize what they want written, and the program reads the text back to them.

For students who struggle with writing by hand and prefer typing, small portable word processors allow them to type notes in class and take them home to add to or expand on for assignments without rekeying. This can be done on a tablet with word-processing software or with AT devices specific to this task, such as the Forte portable word processor.

Abbreviation expanders and word prediction software can help students with spelling and grammar by suggesting words or phrases they might mean to type while also speeding up their keying time. Similarly, alternative keyboards, such as IntelliKeys, help increase typing proficiency by grouping letters or symbols with customizable overlays, for example.

These AT tools and others can enhance the learning experience for all students and help them develop the self-confidence they need to succeed. You can find additional resources on the National Public Website on Assistive Technology, as well as games and websites for the classroom on Common Sense Education. AbleNet is a great resource for information on the most recent AT developments, such as SoundingBoard, an application that allows students with speech difficulties to communicate by touch screen.

Assistive technology can’t replace the vital human element of dedicated teachers, parents, and aides, but embracing these advancements will give both you and your students a leg up on learning."
assistivetechnology  technology  2015  rebeccadean  listening  memory  organization  math  mathematics  writing  reading  tools  teaching  education 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Trumped Up Data
"I’ve started working on my annual review of the year in ed-tech, something I’ve done for the past six years. It’s an intensive project – I will write some 75,000 words between now and the end of December – that forces me to go back through all the events and announcements of the previous twelve months. I don’t do so to make predictions about the future. But rather I look for patterns so that I can better understand how the past might orient us towards certain futures. I listen closely to the stories that we have told ourselves about education and technology, about the various possible futures in which these two systems (these two sets of practices, these two sets of ideologies) are so deeply intertwined. I pay attention to who tells the stories, who shares the stories, who believes the stories. In thinking about the past, I am always thinking about the future; in thinking about the future, we are always talking about the past.

That’s what’s at the core of a slogan like “Make America Great Again,” of course. It invokes a nostalgic longing for a largely invented past as it gestures towards a future that promises “greatness” once again.

Last week – and it feels so long right now – I gave a talk titled “The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release.” I argued there’s something frighteningly insidious about the ways in which predictions about the future of education and technology are formulated and spread. These predictions are predicated on a destabilization or disruption of our public institutions and an entrenchment of commodification and capitalism.

These predictions don’t have to be believable or right; indeed, they rarely are. But even when wrong, they push the future in a certain direction. And they reveal the shape that the storytellers want the future to take.

In my talk, I called these predictions a form of “truthiness.” I’d add to that, an observation that sociologist Nathan Jurgenson made last night about “factiness”:
On the right, they have what Stephan Colbert called “truthiness,” which we might define as ignoring facts in the name of some larger truth. The facts of Obama’s birthplace mattered less for them than their own racist “truth” of white superiority. Perhaps we need to start articulating a left-wing version of truthiness: let’s call it “factiness.” Factiness is the taste for the feel and aesthetic of “facts,” often at the expense of missing the truth. From silly self-help-y TED talks to bad NPR-style neuroscience science updates to wrapping ourselves in the misleading scientism of Fivethirtyeight statistics, factiness is obsessing over and covering ourselves in fact after fact while still missing bigger truths.

“Factiness” connects to a lot of what we saw in this election, to be sure – this faith, as Jurgenson points out, in polling despite polling being wrong repeatedly, all along. It connects to a lot of what we hear in technology circles too – that we can build intelligent systems that model and adapt and learn and predict complex human behaviors. And that, in turn, is connected to education’s long-standing obsession with data: that we can harness elaborate analytics and measurement tools to identify who’s learning and who’s not.

I don’t believe that answers are found in “data” (that is, in “data” as this pure objective essence of “fact” or “truth”). Rather, I believe answers – muddier and more mutable and not really answers at all – live in stories. It is, after all, in stories where we find what underpins and extends both “truthiness” and “factiness.” Stories are crafted and carried in different ways, no doubt, than “data,” even when they serve the same impulse – to control, to direct.

Stories are everywhere, and yet stories can be incredibly easy to dismiss.
We do not listen.

Sometimes I joke that I’ve been described as “ed-tech’s Cassandra.” Mostly, it’s unfunny – not much of a joke at all considering how things worked out for poor Cassandra. But I do listen closely to the stories being told about the future of education and technology, and all I can do is to caution people that these stories rely on some fairly dystopian motifs and outcomes.

I’m also a folklorist, an ethnographer. I approach education technology with that disciplinary training. I listen to the stories. I observe the practices. I talk to people.

I’m not sure how to move forward after last night’s election results. For now, all I have is this: I want to remind people of the importance of stories – that stories might be better to turn to for understanding the future people want, better than the data we’ve been so obsessed with watching as a proxy for actually talking or listening to them."
audreywatters  2016  data  elections  edtech  truthiness  factiness  listening  nathanjurgenson  ethnography  folklore  storytelling  stories  bigdata  predictions  understanding  truth  stephencolbert 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Participation is an invitation: Citizen, Citizenship, Participation DVD | Reggio Children
"During the meetings, as the children used different expressive languages to investigate and interpret the themes and meanings of community and citizenship, their words and ideas emerged more and more clearly.
 
It was immediately visible (and audible!) that we were building a sort of alphabet, a lexicon that inventoried the value of citizenship, participation, city, public places, migration, rights, duties…

The children’s reflections represent a special occasion to re-launch, also in other contexts, the themes of welcome, borders, and democracy, and to elicit, we hope, new stories and new opportunities for listening."
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  citizenship  participation  community  civics  democracy  listening 
november 2016 by robertogreco
John Berger: ‘If I’m a storyteller it’s because I listen’ | Books | The Guardian
"After lunch we move into his study, a den of paintings, a place of light, its windows thrown wide, looking on to trees. He tries to make himself comfortable on the white sofa, an arthritic back giving him trouble. As a writer, Berger has that rare and wonderful gift of being able to make complex thoughts simple. He once said, in a BBC interview with Jeremy Isaacs, that he likes, in all his work, to follow the advice of the photographer Robert Capa: “When the picture is not good enough, go closer…” His eye for detail remains unrivalled and consistently surprising (think of his irresistible observation that cows walk as if they were wearing high heels). Reading him is like standing at a window – perhaps a bit like the window of this study – with no one blocking the view. “The way I observe comes naturally to me as a curious person – I’m like la vigie – the lookout guy on a boat who does small jobs, maybe such as shovelling stuff into a boiler, but I’m no navigator – absolutely the opposite. I wander around the boat, find odd places – the masts, the gunwale – and then simply look out at the ocean. Being aware of travelling has nothing to do with being a navigator.”"



"In 1944 he joined up, refusing a commission with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire light infantry, and became a lance corporal at a training camp. He preferred the company of working-class recruits, for whom he became a scribe, writing their letters home. In a sense, he has continued to do this all his life: telling other people’s stories lest they vanish. In a conversation with Susan Sontag, he once said: “A story is always a rescuing operation.” And he has also said (in The Seasons in Quincy): “If I’m a storyteller it’s because I listen. For me, a storyteller is like a passeur who gets contraband across a frontier.”"



"And what does he think about Brexit? He leans back on the sofa (we have now shifted from the overheated study into a cooler parlour, a sofa crawl in operation) and admits it has always been important to him to define himself as European. He then attempts to describe what he sees as the bigger picture: “It seems to me that we have to return, to recapitulate what globalisation meant, because it meant that capitalism, the world financial organisations, became speculative and ceased to be first and foremost productive, and politicians lost nearly all their power to take political decisions – I mean politicians in the traditional sense. Nations ceased to be what they were before.” In Meanwhile (the last essay in Landscapes) he notes that the word “horizon” has slipped out of view in political discourse. And he adds, returning to Brexit, that he voted with his feet long ago, moving to France.

We talk about what it is for a person to adopt a foreign country as home, and about how it is possible to love a landscape like a familiar face. For Berger, that face is the Haute-Savoie. “This is the landscape I lived in for decades [he left only after Beverly died; his son Yves still lives there with his family]. It matters to me because during that time, I worked there like a peasant. OK, don’t let’s exaggerate. I didn’t work as hard as they did but I worked pretty hard, doing exactly the same things as the peasants, working with them. This landscape was part of my energy, my body, my satisfaction and discomfort. I loved it not because it was a view – but because I participated in it.”

He explains: “The connection between the human condition and labour is frequently forgotten, and for me was always so important. At 16, I went down a coal mine in Derbyshire and spent a day on the coal face – just watching the miners. It had a profound effect.” What did it make you feel? “Respect,” he says quietly. “Just respect. There are two kinds. Respect to do with ceremony – what happens when you visit the House of Lords. And a completely different respect associated with danger.” He says: “This is not a prescription for others, but when I look back on my life I think it’s very significant I never went to a university. I refused to go. Lots of people were pushing me and I said, ‘No. I don’t want to’, because those years at university form a whole way of thinking.” And you feel free from that? “Yes.”"



"As he nudges closer to 90, Berger feels his own way of seeing has changed surprisingly little, although, he points out, technology has changed the way younger generations explore art. He admits, then, to his enthusiasm for texting: “I’ve been a fan for a long while because it’s like whispers – and with that goes intimacy, secrecy, playfulness…” But there is nothing fixed about the way he sees. He believes one never sees the same picture twice: “The second time I saw the Grünewald altarpiece was after a terrorist attack – it was the same painting yet I saw it differently.” The importance of certain painters has shifted too. He reveres Modigliani less, admires Velázquez more: “When one is young, one likes drama, excitation, bravura – Velázquez has none of this.”"



"But Berger’s greatest strength in old age is his ability to live in the present. “I cultivated this early on – and this is the paradox – because it was an escape from prescriptions, prophecies, consequences and causes.” The present moment is key to his thinking too. In Ways of Seeing, he suggests that paintings embody the present in which they were painted. Defining the secret of reading aloud well, he says it is “refusing to look ahead, to be in the moment”. And he says that a story puts its listener “in an eternal present”. He has also written about the circularity of time. Does he think that applies to an individual life? Is there, in old age, a way in which one starts to hold hands with one’s younger self?"
johnberger  art  seeing  listening  2016  observation  noticing  storytelling  writing  robertcapa  presence  migration  reading  marxism  globalization  capitalism  participation  labor  participatory  texting  intimacy  secrecy  playfulness 
october 2016 by robertogreco
October 2016 – The California Sunday Magazine [issue dedicated to the topic of sound]
"LISTEN.

For the first time, we’ve dedicated an issue to one topic: Sound. We reached out to a bunch of writers and photographers and asked, “What do California and the West sound like right now?” As you’ll discover, they came back with an incredible variety of stories.

They met L.A. musicians just starting to hit big and traveled deep into the woods to learn about soundscape ecology. They visited Bay Area tech and design companies figuring out what cars and homes and toys will sound like in the future and spent time with inmates producing the first podcast from prison. They spoke with scientists lowering microphones into the Pacific Ocean and artists who make sound effects for television and film. And more — so much more that our creative director Leo Jung set aside our usual issue design and created something new. Our sound issue is presented in three acts, each with its own table of contents, beginning with our quietest stories and ending with our loudest ones.

Sound is fascinating, and it’s a way into so many different kinds of stories. But we worried that a print issue dedicated to sound might be a bit … quiet? So, throughout the issue, you’ll see audio footnotes so you can play the sounds you’re reading about.

One more thing. To accompany the release of this issue, our editors teamed up with the producers of our live series, Pop-Up Magazine, and the music-festival producers Noise Pop to create a sound-themed “live magazine” show at the magical, monumental Greek Theatre in Berkeley. The show, on September 30 (tickets available here) features a collection of new multimedia stories about the sounds of California and the West performed by writers, radio producers, photographers, filmmakers, and illustrators, alongside musical performances.

We hope you enjoy all of this as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you."
california  sound  listening  soundscapes  bayarea  thewest  west  classideas  2016 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Grammar snobs are patronising, pretentious and just plain wrong – Mona Chalabi | Comment is Free - YouTube
"Mona Chalabi argues that those who correct others’ language are clinging to conventions that are unimportant. She says grammar snobbery is often used to silence those who have less of a voice in society."
monachalabi  grammar  grammarsnobs  listening  exclusion  language  english  power 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Understanding Hillary: The Clinton America sees isn’t the Clinton colleagues know. Why are they so different?
"I don’t buy it. Other politicians find themselves under continuous assault, but their poll numbers strengthen amid campaigns. Barack Obama’s approval rating rose in the year of his reelection. So too did George W. Bush’s. And Bill Clinton’s. All three sustained attacks. All three endured opponents lobbing a mix of true and false accusations. But all three seemed boosted by running for the job — if anything, people preferred watching them campaign to watching them govern.

Hillary Clinton is just the opposite. There is something about her persona that seems uniquely vulnerable to campaigning; something is getting lost in the Gap. So as I interviewed Clinton's staffers, colleagues, friends, and foes, I began every discussion with some form of the same question: What is true about the Hillary Clinton you’ve worked with that doesn’t come through on the campaign trail?

The answers startled me in their consistency. Every single person brought up, in some way or another, the exact same quality they feel leads Clinton to excel in governance and struggle in campaigns. On the one hand, that makes my job as a reporter easy. There actually is an answer to the question. On the other hand, it makes my job as a writer harder: It isn’t a very satisfying answer to the question, at least not when you first hear it.

Hillary Clinton, they said over and over again, listens.

How a listener campaigns

“I love Bill Clinton,” says Tom Harkin, who served as senator from Iowa from 1985 to 2015. “But every time you talk to Bill, you’re just trying to get a word in edgewise. With Hillary, you’re in a meeting with her, and she really listens to you.”

The first few times I heard someone praise Clinton’s listening, I discounted it. After hearing it five, six, seven times, I got annoyed by it. What a gendered compliment: “She listens.” It sounds like a caricature of what we would say about a female politician.

But after hearing it 11, 12, 15 times, I began to take it seriously, ask more questions about it. And as I did, the Gap began to make more sense.

Modern presidential campaigns are built to reward people who are really, really good at talking. So imagine what a campaign feels like if you’re not entirely natural in front of big crowds. Imagine that you are constantly compared to your husband, one of the greatest campaign orators of all time; that you’ve been burned again and again after saying the wrong thing in public; that you’ve been told, for decades, that you come across as calculated and inauthentic on the stump. What would you do?"



"Laurie Rubiner, who served as Clinton’s legislative director from 2005 to 2008, recalls being asked to block out two hours on the calendar for “card-table time.” Rubiner had just started in Clinton’s office six weeks before, and she had no idea what card-table time was, but when the boss wants something put on the calendar, you do it.

When the appointed day arrived, Clinton had laid out two card tables alongside two huge suitcases. She opened the suitcases, and they were stuffed with newspaper clippings, position papers, random scraps of paper. Seeing the befuddled look on Rubiner’s face, Clinton asked, “Did anyone tell you what we’re doing here?”

It turned out that Clinton, in her travels, stuffed notes from her conversations and her reading into suitcases, and every few months she dumped the stray paper on the floor of her Senate office and picked through it with her staff. The card tables were for categorization: scraps of paper related to the environment went here, crumpled clippings related to military families there. These notes, Rubiner recalls, really did lead to legislation. Clinton took seriously the things she was told, the things she read, the things she saw. She made her team follow up.

Her process works the same way today. Multiple Clinton aides told me that the campaign’s plan to fight opiate addiction, the first and most comprehensive offered by any of the major candidates, was the direct result of Clinton hearing about the issue on her tour. “Her way of dealing with the stories she hears is not just to repeat the story but to do something about the story,” says John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s campaign."



"One way of reading the Democratic primary is that it pitted an unusually pure male leadership style against an unusually pure female leadership style. Sanders is a great talker and a poor relationship builder. Clinton is a great relationship builder and a poor talker. In this case — the first time at the presidential level — the female leadership style won.

But that wasn’t how the primary was understood. Clinton’s endorsements left her excoriated as a tool of the establishment while Sanders's speeches left people marveling at his political skills. Thus was her core political strength reframed as a weakness.

I want to be very clear here. I’m not saying that anyone who opposed Clinton was sexist. Nor am I saying Clinton should have won. What I’m saying is that presidential campaigns are built to showcase the stereotypically male trait of standing in front of a room speaking confidently — and in ways that are pretty deep, that’s what we expect out of our presidential candidates. Campaigns built on charismatic oration feel legitimate in a way that campaigns built on deep relationships do not.

But here’s the thing about the particular skills Clinton used to capture the Democratic nomination: They are very, very relevant to the work of governing. And they are particularly relevant to the way Clinton governs.

In her book Why Presidents Fail, Brookings scholar Elaine Kamarck argues that "successful presidential leadership occurs when the president is able to put together and balance three sets of skills: policy, communication, and implementation."

The problem, Kamarck says, is that campaigns are built to test only one of those skills. “The obsession with communication — presidential talking and messaging — is a dangerous mirage of the media age, a delusion that inevitably comes crashing down in the face of government failure.”

Part of Kamarck’s argument is that presidential primaries used to be decided in the proverbial smoke-filled room — a room filled with political elites who knew the candidates personally, who had worked with them professionally, who had some sense of how they governed. It tested “the ability of one politician to form a coalition of equals in power.”

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination by forming a coalition. And part of how she forms coalitions is by listening to her potential partners — both to figure out what they need and to build her relationships with them. This is not a skill all politicians possess.

As I began to press the people I talked to about why they brought up Clinton’s listening skills, a torrent of complaints about other politicians emerged. “The reason so many people comment on this is most of us have experienced working with people who are awful listeners,” says Sara Rosenbaum, who worked with Clinton on the 1994 health reform bill and is now at George Washington University. “Because they don’t listen, they can’t ask good questions. They can’t absorb the information you’ve given them.”"



"The danger of leading by listening

There is a downside to listening to everyone, to seeking rapport, to being inclusive, to obsessing over common ground. Clinton’s effort to find broad consensus can turn her speeches and policies into mush. Her interest in hearing diverse voices can end with her chasing down the leads of cranks and hacks. Her belief that the highest good in politics is getting something — at times, anything — done means she takes few lonely stands and occasionally cuts deals many of her supporters regret.

Clinton spent much of the primary defending herself against criticisms of deals her husband made and she supported — welfare reform and the crime bill, specifically. Her great failure, the 1994 health reform effort, unwound in part because she created a sprawling, unruly process in which hundreds of experts came together to write a bill no one understood and no one could explain."



"This is, in general, one of the frustrations you hear from Clintonites: Her network is massive, and particularly when her poll numbers flag, or she feels under attack, she reaches out into that vast, strange ecosystem. The stories of Clinton receiving a midnight email from an old friend and throwing her campaign into chaos are legion, and it was all the worse because she often wouldn’t admit that’s what was happening, and so her staff ended up arguing against a ghost.

In an exhaustive review of private communications from her 2008 campaign, Joshua Green wrote that “her advisers couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution.” Under duress, Clinton’s process broke down, and her management proved cumbersome, ineffective, and conducive to staff infighting.

“What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make,” Green concluded. “Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”"



"Clinton laments how polarizing she is, but the fault lies at least partly with her. Asked at a Democratic debate to name the enemies she’s most proud of making, she replied, “The Republicans.” For all her talk of finding common ground, of reaching out, of respecting each other, she stood up, on national television, and said she’s proud of the enmity she inspires in roughly half the country.

I asked her if she regretted that statement, whether she thinks she’s feeding the negativity, becoming part of the problem. “Not very much,” she said. “I mean, you can go back and look at how I’ve worked with Republicans, and I … [more]
2016  hillaryclinton  politics  elections  listening  consensus  policy  billclinton  barackobama  governance  berniesanders  gender  coalitions  media  journalism  press  communication  networking  decisionmaking  relationships  implementation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Berlin Biennale | All Problems Can Be Illuminated; Not All Problems Can Be Solved
"“There is no technology for justice. There is only justice.”12 Ursula Franklin answered when I asked her in December 2015, what to do. I reached out because I wanted her to tell me how to act on the perspectives she brings to the traditional story of progress. As someone building internet technologies, working within this received wisdom, I wanted a recipe, something I could share with others (with you!) and throw my body into.

She was warm and generous and incredibly insightful, and she gave me no smooth answers, no simple way.

Central to our conversation was my worry about the massive surveillance capacities enabled by internet technologies and the way in which public assent to surveillance is fueled by the racism and militarism of the now eternal “War on Terror.” What could we do to combat this narrative? What could we do to change the underlying technologies such that they respect human agency and privacy?

Franklin agreed. This is a grave problem. But not a “technological” problem:

“Whether it’s heathens, witches, women, communists, whoever, the institution of an enemy as a political tool is inappropriate. The only solution is an insistence on a civilized democratic society. A civilized democratic society combats this and the wish of an authority to collect personal information on citizens and their activities and loyalties. Whether it’s done by spying, by bribing children, by workplace monitoring, by confession in the confession box of the church—the collection is the issue. The means—the technology—is secondary. The problem is a problem of authoritarian power. And at the root of this problem is the issue of justice, and justice is political.”

While justice can be understood, can be felt, there is no template to follow, or checklist to work through for ensuring a just outcome. The requirements are humility, a respect for context, and a willingness to listen to the most marginalized voices. Let these define the basic requirements of whatever you do. You must “put yourself in the position of the most vulnerable, in a way that achieves a visceral gut feeling of empathy and perspective—that’s the only way to see what justice is.”

Understanding justice, honoring those most vulnerable and including them as authors of any plan that impacts them, is a necessary starting place. But the problems associated with our current technologies won’t be solved by tweaking gears or redesigning mechanisms. A roadmap that centers on justice is only the first step. “For a very long time gadgets and machinery have been anti-people. If one wants to get away from the anti-people component, then you don’t argue technology as much as you argue capitalism.” Even with a view of what justice would look like and could be, attempts at radical change will, of course, be repulsed by powerful actors who benefit richly from the unjust status quo. Political change must be a part of the equation.

This isn’t a frenzied call for revolution. The bigger the scale, the bigger the vision for just change, the more difficult it will be to “get it through” a system in which power is aligned against justice (and, of course, the more difficult it will be to truly understand this vision’s vast impact on vulnerable populations and thus ensure it really supports justice.) Not that working to build practices and plans isn’t worthwhile—it is incredibly worthwhile. But you’re unlikely to have much real impact if you start with a grand announcement. “To proceed in a hostile world,” Franklin suggests, “call it an experiment. Admit that you don’t know how to do it, but ask for space and peace and respect. Then try your experiment, quietly.” In conditions not conducive to success, situate yourself out of the spotlight and proceed subtly, humbly, and be willing to downplay expectations while new forms incubate.

“My favorite word is an old Quaker term, ‘scrupling,’ used as an activity,” Franklin begins, addressing how to approach the vastness of the political and social problems we were discussing. “It comes out of the anti-slavery movement, originally. People would get together to ‘scruple,’ that is, discuss and debate a common problem, something they had scruples about—say, justice—for which they did not have a solution. This is scrupling, and this is something you and your friends can do.”

Gather and talk. Empathize and listen. Don’t chase the spotlight, and accept that some problems are big, and difficult, and that what you’re good at may not fix them. These are not the ways of charismatic executives and flash-bang inventors. These are not instructions for entrepreneurial success. These won’t produce bigger faster newer ways of doing things.

Her parting words were meant to comfort me. “For your own sanity, you have to remember that not all problems can be solved. Not all problems can be solved, but all problems can be illuminated. If the eggs are scrambled, they’re scrambled. You can’t unscramble them. All you can possibly do is cook them and share them with somebody.”"
ursulafranklin  justice  technology  meredithmeredith  2016  efficiency  compliance  listening  empathy  progress  racism  militarism  surveillance  waronterror  democracy  society  humility  inclusivity  inclusion  vulnerability  radicalchange  power  statusquo  politics  scrupling  conversation  problemsolving  jacquesellul  capitalism  consumerism  innovation  quakers  systems  interrelationships  systemsthinking  complexity  culture  materials  art  mindset  organization  procedures  symbols  orthodoxy  luddism  occupywallstreet  ows  resistance  disruption  speed  humanism  science  scientism  legibility  elitism  experts  authority  privilege  experience  civilization  authoritarianism  socialjustice  revolution  peace  spotlight  hardproblems  success 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Moment(us) teaching — Medium
"At Constructing Modern Knowledge 2016, Carla Rinaldi, president of Reggio Children, gave an impassioned talk to the gathered educators about the lessons of the Reggio Emilia pre-school approach.

She spoke about love, beauty, and respect for children (of all ages) and their learning process. She showed some photos and videos of children learning together and how teachers have the opportunity to make small decisions in this process. To watch or intervene; to ask a question or remain quiet; to suggest an expansion of the complexity of the children’s investigation or to help them simplify their ideas.

What struck me is how quietly these moments happen. These momentous moments are the heart and art of teaching. Not only is this skill too often devalued and disrespected, but the time it takes to listen is dismissed as “wasted.”

Momentous is a word that is usually associated with BIG EVENTS, but the heart of the word is moment — a fleeting second of time where teachers make decisions that are not simple or fleeting.

Too often overlooked and underestimated, the moment occurs only when listening is valued, when respect exists between all the participants, and there is time to slow down and think hard about what to do in that moment."
carlarinaldi  reggioemilia  listening  love  beauty  respect  children  learning  howwelearn  2016  sylviamartinez  observation  intervention  decisionmaking 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Prof Carla Rinaldi on 'Reclaiming Childhood' - YouTube
[For a quick taste, go to 52:15 https://youtu.be/dqgvW-IRXKg?t=3135:

"Schools, in general, they are considered as a place to learn to read, to learn to write, to be disciplined. Especially the schools for the youngest, they are the famous place to pre-: to pre-pare for the future, to pre-pare for life, to pre- pre- pre-. Pre-school, pre-reading, pre-writing. To take children to pre-ordained outcomes. Pre-, pre-. It’s time to really cancel pre- because school is not a preparation for life, but life. It is a real, deep important part of your life. […] School is life. […] Life itself is school, but for sure, school is life. And the question becomes more urgent nowadays because we are talking about the role of school in contemporary society. Contemporary that is a digital era, e-learning, everything. And somebody says maybe it's time to cancel schools. Why do we continue to build schools? Why does a society looking at the future have to continue to have a school? […] I think the answers still continues to be that we need to have good schools because they are a fundamental place of education of the citizen and communities. […] Not only a place to transmit culture, but nowadays more than ever a place to construct culture and values. Culture of childhood and culture from childhood. That means that the children are bearers and constructors of elements that can renew the culture. They are our best source for our renewing culture. […] The way in which they approach life is not something that we observe without them in our life, it is an amazing source for renewing our questions and our way of approaching life. They are the source for creativity, for creative thinking. They can be the source for changing the concept of ecological approach, holistic approach. We have to explain [these] to each other. Children know exactly what it means. […] We continue to talk about teaching nature to children. Children *are* nature."
carlarinaldi  2013  education  schools  teaching  sfsh  childhood  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  reggioemilia  children  agesegregation  aborigines  australia  pedagogy  inclusivity  accessibility  competence  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  beauty  humanism  humanity  humans  humannature  self-discipline  thewhy  creativity  trust  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  listening  respect  knowing  relationships  joy  canon  otherness  howeteach  makingvisible  ethnography  welcome  reciprocity  community  interdependence  negotiation  rights  nature  culture  culturemaking  responsibility  duty  duties  authority  rule  freedom  co-constuction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Primary - Rediscover Parenting
"Rediscover Parenting
An app for parents, with tools to encourage positivity, engagement, and learning.

Receive Tips & Activities
Get a little dose of inspiration and guidance directly to your iPhone or Apple Watch. Every Saturday morning, receive a more extensive activity to do with your family over the weekend!

Enjoy Helpful Articles
Read exclusive articles from Primary Contributors, including Montessorians, parents, educators, and more.

Chat with Fellow Parents
Engage with like-minded parents in a positive and helpful way by sharing tips, ideas, and questions!"
parenting  bobbygeorge  applications  ios  montessori  education  positivity  engagement  listening  montessorium  learning 
july 2016 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Edwidge Danticat by Garnette Cadogan
"Despite her accomplishments, it is clear from talking to her and reading her books that her ambition is to be nothing less than an attentive observer—her works display exemplary watchfulness and empathy. Over the course of a weeks-long correspondence about her writing, she kept gently nudging me to listen more closely, to be the kind of reader on whom nothing is lost, a reader who recognizes people as irreducibly various and complex. And she made it seem so simple. Except it’s not. (Relatedly, her prose’s deceptive simplicity is part of its appeal.) She has been described as “the bard of the Haitian diaspora,” but, really, her terrain is whatever world her fertile imagination takes her to. Her latest stop is the fictional town of Ville Rose, in which Claire of the Sea Light is set—a heartbreaking-yet-wondrous world."



"GC Claire, this “luminous child,” comes to us in a fable-like series of interrelated stories. Why that structure? Was there something about the themes you wanted to tackle, or about the way you wanted to delineate linked lives in Haiti, that made you choose this form?

ED Initially I wanted to write a book that was like a transcript of a popular radio show in Haiti, featuring news, gossip, interviews, and testimonials. I was not going to use the transcript format, but each chapter was going to be a story that was an episode of the show. The book is as much about Claire and her father as it is about the other residents of Ville Rose. We meet many different characters and get into each of their houses and heads. There is a schoolmaster and his wayward son. There is an undertaker, as well as Louise George, the radio hostess, and others. I imagine the reader as a visitor to Ville Rose on the one night that the book takes place. You arrive on the beach and you start meeting people and you try to piece all the pieces together. I like books, like mysteries, that leave something for the reader to do, a puzzle to solve. I hope this book does that.

GC Were you worried that the fantastical elements of your story might be taken as allegorical and therefore lessen the blow of the horrors you describe?

ED There are not that many fantastical elements in this book. Everything that is mentioned can and actually has happened in different parts of the world. Rogue waves happen. Supernovas happen. Frogs die en masse in many places. Also, even when fantastical elements appear in stories, in my experience, they often highlight rather than reduce horrors.

GC The tiny seaside town of Ville Rose is painted with magical strokes that point to a life beyond the one we can see. They reveal the townspeople’s connection with each other and also their connection to the world beyond. How do you perceive the world that we can’t see shaping the one we do see?

ED I am certainly of the belief that there is more to us than what we see. This is why I would resist the notion of death as ultimate exile. I believe that we remain connected to our ancestors long after they’re gone. It is a deep spiritual connection that is hard to explain. I sometimes think, for example, that I see traces of my grandmother in my daughter’s expressions. This is both genetic and magical at the same time. We are all part of a cycle of life, shaped by all that has come before. Some call it evolution. Some call it God, by whatever name they call God. In Haiti you might say Gran Mèt la, the Grand Master or Creator, which would be part of most religions, even ones where people have trouble agreeing what God should be or look or sound like.

GC In an essay published on the year since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, you quoted a saying of your grandmother’s: “In Haiti, people never really die.” The dead are still among us, you pointed out. How does your awareness of your ancestors and your intimate connection to the dead influence your writing?

ED Again, not to sound too mysterious, but there is so much happening when I am writing that I don’t quite understand. In many ways this is linked to the fact that your subconscious is doing most of the work when you’re in the middle of any creative act. Yet sometimes, on good days when the writing is going well, you feel like there is someone on your shoulder whispering things in your ear that you are just transcribing. You’re a vessel. You don’t even notice time going by. The words just flow. On those days, some people say that the muse has been by. I like to say that my ancestors have been by, sharing with me some of what they have learned over several lifetimes, because there is no way I can individually know what everyone in my bloodline has known together, collectively."



"GC You seem to carry the burden—and liberation—of being from multiple worlds, Haiti and the United States, and speaking to and on behalf of both. Do you see yourself speaking from one world to another, or speaking to both worlds simultaneously? Or speaking to both worlds and the diaspora, that homeland caught between the two?

ED I carry no such burden, frankly. If you give yourself that burden, that is your burden. If I thought of myself as this person “being from multiple worlds,” then I would probably just shut down and do something else with my life. No one elected me to speak on their behalf either in Haiti or the United States. I’m certainly not going to assign myself that role because it would be presumptuous and arrogant and just plain too much. To express an opinion, I would have to take a survey first. I can add my voice to someone else’s. I can help raise other voices. But I can’t take on this massive undertaking that you’re suggesting. I would fail miserably. I don’t have the personality for it or the stamina. Also, the idea of this great anguish of living between two worlds has diminished somewhat for many immigrant people, artists and non-artists alike. Not that there is not some uneasiness, but it is no longer the single most urgent anxiety of every immigrant’s life. And honestly, maybe it never was—except, perhaps, in literature.

Recently I read Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, in which a father wants to convince his daughter to join the family business, but she wants to be an artist. He says to her that all immigrants are artists, that the overall action of recreating your life in another country is a work of art. That was a wonderful intergenerational moment about the pressures of immigration—something I personally needed to hear, something that moves the conversation beyond culture clash and “I am neither here nor there,” to a more nuanced situation where people are talking intimately about immigration and not screaming, “I don’t know where I belong!” I would like us to move beyond these tropes of speaking to or for, and of being only between two worlds. We are at the same time speaking to no one and everyone."



"GC One truth that stands high in your work is that love is a potent combatant to loss. Elaborate on the hopefulness that runs through your recent novel and your work in general.

ED I don’t know how to do this without singing a corny love song, but if you have ever suffered a loss, or have been deprived of a love, or have watched someone’s life slip away—of course all positive emotions can offer some kind of comfort. Love is certainly one of the best for that. When things are difficult, the love a parent has for a child, romantic love, or the love a neighbor has for a stranger or a friend, can sustain a person in ways that even the person being sustained might not fully understand at the moment. The year my father and uncle both died, I can’t imagine how I would have survived if not for the love of my friends and family who got me through a pregnancy, a birth, and all the craziness—mostly with words. Words of comfort in cards, texts, and emails, when I could not even pick up the phone. Not to sound too corny, but sometimes love can also be the difference between life and death. Countless poems, novels, essays, and films vouch for this."
edwidgedanticat  garnettecadogan  writing  literature  haiti  2014  interviews  immigration  migration  howwewrite  whywwewrite  exile  motherhood  subconscious  identity  patriciaengle  nikkigiovanni  love  childhood  fiction  alienation  history  ancestry  noticing  observing  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Learn Children do not...
"After I re-read that section, I was reminded of Laurence Weschler writing about David Hockney, and how “interest-ing” for Hockney is a verb: it is the continual projection of interest. (The more you look at something, the more interesting it gets.) This was certainly the case with me after I started reading this book, and Holt in general: I, who felt like a somewhat enlightened parent, started noting all the ways I wasn’t paying attention to them, and over time, they have become more interesting to me, not because I’m doting on them more, or even spending more time with them, but because I am looking at them like little scientists, or just little people, who are worthy of interest. (It sounds so stupid: of course a parent should find their kids interesting, but think about how many parents and teachers and adults you know — maybe including yourself — who, secretly, probably don’t.)

Holt’s work has really shaken me up, blown my mind, and given me a different way of thinking about my kids. Some of my favorite bits, below."
johnholt  howchildrenlearn  education  learning  children  trust  austinkleon  lawrencewescheler  davidhockney  art  interestedness  interested  interesting  attention  payingattention  noticing  parenting  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  librarians  teachers  purpose  belonging  work  community  conversation  cv  pacing  meaningmaking  unschooling  deschooling  departmentalization  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  control  independence  anxiety  howchildrenfail  testing  assessment  reggioemilia  punk  games  play  standardizedtesting  love  2016  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?) - The New York Times
"Maybe this doesn’t feel like a big deal. Doing one thing at a time isn’t a new idea.

Indeed, multitasking, that bulwark of anemic résumés everywhere, has come under fire in recent years. A 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds — which is to say, less than the amount of time it would take you to toggle from this article to your email and back again — were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.

Earlier research out of Stanford revealed that self-identified “high media multitaskers” are actually more easily distracted than those who limit their time toggling.

So, in layman’s terms, by doing more you’re getting less done.

But monotasking, also referred to as single-tasking or unitasking, isn’t just about getting things done.

Not the same as mindfulness, which focuses on emotional awareness, monotasking is a 21st-century term for what your high school English teacher probably just called “paying attention.”"



"This is great news for the self-identified monotaskers out there.

Jon Pack, a 42-year-old photographer in Brooklyn, was happy to hear that his single-minded manner might be undergoing a rebrand. “When I was looking for jobs and interviewing, they’d always want me to say, ‘I’m a great multitasker,’ ” he said. “And I wouldn’t. My inability to multitask was seen as a negative. Now I can just say, ‘I am a monotasker. I am someone who works best when I focus on one thing at a time.’ ”

And the way we work can have effects that kick in long after we clock out.

As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online, Ms. Zomorodi said, can happen upward of 400 times a day, according to a 2016 University of California, Irvine study. “That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day,” she said. “You’ve used them all up.”

The term “brain dead” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

A good sign you’ve task-switched yourself into a stupor: mindlessly scrolling Facebook at the end of the night or, as in Ms. Zomorodi’s case, looking at couches on Pinterest. “I just stuff my brain full of them because I can’t manage to do anything else,” she said. “The sad thing is that I don’t get any closer to deciding which one I like.”

But monotasking can also make work itself more enjoyable.

“I can multitask — and do, of course; it’s kind of essential — but I prefer to do one thing at a time,” Hayley Phelan, a 28-year-old writer, wrote in an email. “If I keep looking at my phone or my inbox or various websites, working feels a lot more tortuous. When I’m focused and making progress, work is actually pleasurable.”

Ms. Phelan isn’t imagining things. “Almost any experience is improved by paying full attention to it,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Attention is one way your brain decides, ‘Is this interesting? Is this worthwhile? Is this fun?’ ”

It’s the reason television shows we tweet through feel tiresome and books we pick up and put down and pick up again never seem to end. The more we allow ourselves to be distracted from a particular activity, the more we feel the need to be distracted. Paying attention pays dividends.

This is why, according to Ms. McGonigal, the ability to monotask might be most valuable in social situations. “Research shows that just having a phone on the table is sufficiently distracting to reduce empathy and rapport between two people who are in conversation,” she said.

Twenty-five thousand people participated in Ms. Zomorodi’s Infomagical project, which started the week with a single-tasking challenge. Upon completion, respondents agreed overwhelmingly that single-tasking was the No. 1 thing they wanted to carry into their post-Infomagical lives. “But they also said it was really, really hard,” Ms. Zomorodi said.

Parents of young children found it difficult for obvious reasons, as did people with jobs that permit them less control over their time. In those cases, try monotasking in areas where you can: conversations with your children, reading a book in bed before they go to sleep, dinner or drinks with friends. After all, monotasking is a good skill to incorporate into all aspects of your life, not just work.

Even those with more flexibility can find themselves going to great lengths for a little bit of focus. Nick Pandolfi, who works in partnerships at Google, once traveled to northern Sweden in what he described as an “extreme” effort to monotask.

“I had to write my business school application essays, and I was having no luck spending an hour here and there after work and on the weekends,” Mr. Pandolfi said. “I just wasn’t inspired. After spending a few days hiking in the Arctic by myself, I was able to get all of them done in just a few days.”"



"Monotasking can also be as simple as having a conversation.

“Practice how you listen to people,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Put down anything that’s in your hands and turn all of your attentional channels to the person who is talking. You should be looking at them, listening to them, and your body should be turned to them. If you want to see a benefit from monotasking, if you want to have any kind of social rapport or influence on someone, that’s the place to start. That’s where you’ll see the biggest payoff.”"
multitasking  attention  monotasking  singletasking  2016  psychology  cognition  cognitiveload  conversation  janemcgonigal  listening  presence  cv 
may 2016 by robertogreco
How NOT to save the world: Why U.S. students who go to poor countries to ‘do good’ often do the opposite - The Washington Post
"Global health is the buzz on many campuses today. Students at all levels are seeking opportunities overseas, primarily in low-income countries where they aspire to make a difference. Motivations range from CV-building to a deep commitment to social justice and human rights. In either case, most of them are likely to return saying they got more out of the experience than they gave. We can only hope that their hosts aren’t saying they wish their visitors had never come.

Some have called it a “tsunami of student interest” in global health. The Association of American Medical College’s 2015 survey of medical student graduates reports that roughly one-third of graduates worked in another country during their years in medical school. (At Dartmouth College, where I teach, the numbers of undergraduate, medical and public health students seeking global health opportunities repeatedly outstrip the number of opportunities that we can offer them, and this seems to be a trend at other institutions as well.)

The tsunami metaphor hints at what may happen if students are not well prepared: There is potential for significant damage and clean-up in the aftermath. This is, in part, because these student experiences are fraught with ethical dilemmas. Of course, we do our best to ensure our students become familiar with (if they are not already) the community they will be working with, be active listeners and exhibit cultural humility, not make promises they can’t keep, and clarify their roles as students. This is particularly important in some clinical settings where students are often mistaken for being practicing physicians or nurses."



"Now, the challenge is try to unlearn all the socialization that to this point has brought you academic accolades. You must resist the temptation to share every great thought or idea you have. You must switch into listener mode."

Underlying this all is the message that students are guests in the hospital or clinic or community organization where they will be working. And what may look like simple fixes to them on first impression, are typically complicated problems embedded in complex systems that they can only begin to understand in their weeks or months on site. I impress upon them that they are working with very capable and experienced partners – so all the low hanging fruit solutions have already been found.

Many global health programs have measured their success by pins on a (now web-based) map – demonstrating the reach of their programs by the number of sites where they can send students. Unfortunately, this metric confuses quantity with quality. We are so eager to send our students out into the world – and this often catches the attention of potential donors and supporters. But what about the burden this places on our partners who are willing to host our students?

As firm believers in the importance of reciprocity in our global health programs – as in, if we send our students there, we must be willing to receive their students here – we learned about this burden at our own institution. In the first year of our exchange program, the faculty responsible for teaching the visiting students were lamenting the additional work involved with having international students on their team. Their complaints went something like this “They don’t know our medical system, and I don’t have time to teach them all about it” and “Our medical record is unfamiliar to them” or “Their training to this point has been so different from ours.”

I could only smile in response. We think nothing of sending our students there – wherever “there” may be – and yet isn’t this exactly what our partner faculty could say about our students when they arrive, hoping to do some good? At least the students visiting us were proficient in English. That’s usually more than we could say about our students’ ability to speak local languages needed to converse directly with patients (most of the health professionals they encounter abroad are bilingual). At least our nurses, doctors and students aren’t also being pulled from their work to have to translate for students that come to our institution.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a major supporter of educating students in global health, and I spend much of my day advising, mentoring, and preparing students for short (and long) term experiences and eventual careers in global health. I encourage my students to pursue these experiences. I know how it changes them and their outlook and now, the data show, even their career trajectories and likelihood of working with under-served populations in the future. I recognize the work of my colleagues to provide us guidance in addressing these ethical challenges.

But it is clearly time for us to consider our partners’ side of this bargain. Recent surveys of partners’ experiences are encouraging, but we now need to act on their observations and recommendations. And we should be prepared to return the favor and offer similar training opportunities to their students. Reciprocity in educating the next generation is an important first step in leveling the global health-training playing field. Then, we need to make sure our students shed their hopes of solving a community’s complex problems during one neatly packaged summer project."
listening  2016  lisaadams  servicelearning  colonialism  charitableindustrialcomplex  medicine  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
march 2016 by robertogreco
What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren't Getting) : NPR Ed : NPR
"Q: What is this phenomenon that you call "the preschool paradox"?

A: It is the reality that science is confirming on a daily basis: that children are hardwired to learn in many settings and are really very capable, very strong, very intelligent on the one hand. On the other hand, the paradox is that many young children are doing poorly in our early education settings.

We've got a growing problem of preschool expulsions, a growing problem of children being medicated off-label for attention problems. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence that parents are frustrated and feeling overburdened. So that's what interests me: What is going on?

We have very crammed [preschool] schedules with rapid transitions. We have tons of clutter on classroom walls. We have kids moving quickly from one activity to another. We ask them to sit in long and often boring meetings. Logistically and practically, lives are quite taxing for little kids because they're actually living in an adult-sized world.

On the other hand, curriculum is often very boring. A staple of early childhood curriculum is the daily tracking of the calendar. And this is one of those absolute classic mismatches, because one study showed that, after a whole year of this calendar work where kids sit in a circle and talk about what day they're on, half the kids still didn't know what day they were on. It's a mismatch because it's both really hard and frankly very stupid.

We're underestimating kids in terms of their enormous capacity to be thoughtful and reflective, and, I would argue, that's because we're not giving them enough time to play and to be in relationships with others.

Q: Why do you think so many educators and policymakers have come to see play and learning as mutually exclusive?

A: Yeah, it's incredibly weird — this fake dichotomy. The science is so persuasive on this topic. There's all kinds of research coming not only from early childhood but animal research looking at mammals and how they use play for learning.

I think there are two answers. There really has been tremendous anxiety about closing achievement gaps between advantaged and less advantaged children. You know, we're always as a society looking for quick fixes that might close those gaps. Unfortunately, it's had downstream consequences for early learning, where we're going for superficial measures of learning.

I think the other problem is that the rich, experience-based play that we know results in learning — it's not as easy to accomplish as people think. And that's because, while the impulse to play is natural, what I call the play know-how really depends on a culture that values play, that gives kids the time and space to learn through play.

Q: What does playful learning look like?

A: Playful learning is embedded in relationships and in things that are meaningful to children. I use the example of the iconic [handprint] Thanksgiving turkey. When you really get into what's behind those cutesy crafts, a lot of curriculum is organized around these traditions, things around the calendar, things that are done because they've always been done.

When you look at how kids learn, they learn when something is meaningful to them, when they have a chance to learn through relationships — and that, of course, happens through play. But a lot of our curriculum is organized around different principles.

It's organized around the comfort and benefit of adults and also reflexive: "This is cute," or, "We've always done this." A lot of the time, as parents, we are trained to expect products, cute projects. And I like to say that the role of art in preschool or kindergarten curriculum should be to make meaning, not necessarily things. But it's hard to get parents to buy into this idea that their kids may not come home with the refrigerator art because maybe they spent a week messing around in the mud.

Preschool teachers are very interested in fine motor skills, and so often they think that these tracing and cutting activities [are important]. I would argue that those are not the most important skills that we need to foster.

Q: What are the most important skills we need to foster?

A: I think the No. 1 thing is that children need to feel secure in their relationships because, again, we're social animals. And children learn through others. So I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn.

Q: You're talking about soft skills, non-cognitive skills ...

A: I actually won't accept the term non-cognitive skills.

Q: Social-emotional skills?

A: I would say social-emotional skills. But, again, there's a kind of simplistic notion that there's social-emotional skills on the one hand ...

Q: And academics on the other ...

A: Right, and I would argue that many so-called academic skills are very anti-intellectual and very uncognitive. Whereas I think a lot of the social-emotional skills are very much linked to learning.

I think the biggest one is the use of language. When kids are speaking to one another and listening to one another, they're learning self-regulation, they're learning vocabulary, they're learning to think out loud. And these are highly cognitive skills. But we've bought into this dichotomy again. I would say "complex skills" versus "superficial" or "one-dimensional skills."

To give you an example, watching kids build a fort is going to activate more cognitive learning domains than doing a worksheet where you're sitting at a table. The worksheet has a little pile of pennies on one side and some numbers on the other, and you have to connect them with your pencil. That's a very uni-dimensional way of teaching skills.

Whereas, if you're building a fort with your peers, you're talking, using higher-level language structures in play than you would be if you're sitting at a table. You're doing math skills, you're doing physics measurement, engineering — but also doing the give-and-take of, "How do I get along? How do I have a conversation? What am I learning from this other person?" And that's very powerful.

Q: What is high-quality preschool to you?

A: The research base is pretty clear. I'll start by telling you what it isn't. We start by looking at two variables. One set are called "structural variables" — things like class size, student-teacher ratios, or even the square-footage of the classroom and what kinds of materials are in the classroom.

And then there are so-called process variables, which are different. They tend to be more about teaching style. Is the teacher a responsive teacher? Does she use a responsive, warm, empathic teaching style? And then the other key process variable is: Does the teacher have knowledge of child development? And is that teacher able to translate that child development knowledge into the curriculum?

Q: Which seems like a hard thing to measure.

A: It's actually not. And there are many good measures — things like: Is the teacher on the floor with the child? Is the teacher asking open-ended questions? You know: "Tell me about your picture" versus "Oh, cute house, Bobby." It's actually not that hard to measure.

But here's the thing. The structural variables are easier to regulate. And, if you have a workforce problem where you're not paying teachers well and a pipeline problem where there aren't good career paths to get into teaching, it's much easier for us to focus on the structural variables when those have an indirect effect only. The direct effect is the process variables.

My colleague Walter Gilliam at Yale has come up with this wonderful mental health classroom climate scale, which really looks at these process variables in very granular detail — so, not only looking at the interactions between the teachers and the children but how the teachers are interacting with each other.

Q: You mount a spirited defense of unscheduled kid time [at home]. Less shuttling to and from sports practice, dance practice, swim lessons. Be sure, you say, to give your child time to sit on the floor and stare at the ceiling if that's what they want to do. I know a lot of parents who would find that view heretical.

A: That's because we don't have faith in young children. And we don't really have faith in ourselves. And we've been programmed to believe that the more enrichments we can add on [the better].

I think boredom can be a friend to the imagination. Sometimes when kids appear to be bored, actually they haven't had enough time to engage in something. We quickly whisk it away and move them along to the next thing. And that's when you say, "How can I help the child to look at this in a new way? To try something new, to be patient."

You've really kind of adultified childhood so kids really don't have those long, uninterrupted stretches of time to engage in fantasy play. And because we've kind of despoiled the habitat of early childhood, a lot of times they don't know what to do when given that time. So we kind of have to coach them.

I think there's a little bit of a repair process that we need to engage in. Because if you've got a kid who's used to going to a million lessons and only uses toys that have one way of using them and then, suddenly, you put them in a room with a bunch of boxes and blocks and say, "Have fun!", the kid's gonna say, "Are you kidding me? What?!""



"Now, I do want to be clear: There are all kinds of ways to respond to being hurt, including filing a police report, reporting to your supervisor or professor or RA in a dorm, talking with your friends, ignoring. To me, I think the social norming piece is really important because I believe we put way too much faith in these administrative guidelines, "suggestions."

Is that really how behavior change happens? I don't know. I think for some things, absolutely, legal recourse makes a difference. But for other things, I think, peer norming is highly effective, and to me, Halloween costumes would be in that category.

We can't … [more]
children  education  play  unstructuredtime  learning  preschool  school  curriculum  howwelearn  rules  structure  lcproject  openstudioproject  conversation  norms  behavior  howweteach  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  listening  coryturner  erikachristakis  relationships  boredom  imagination  parenting  guidelines  process  empathy  policy  transitions  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Williams Gibson: On Technophobia and the Power of Film | Literary Hub
"In part one [http://lithub.com/william-gibson-on-phones-fiction-and-the-end-of-the-world/ + https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-one/s-0Jwns ] of Paul Holdengraber’s phone call with William Gibson, topics included dystopias, the universal screenwriter, and the disruption of the telephone. In part two,

[https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-two/s-my54E ]

William Gibson on the availability of culture…

If you had never heard recorded music and you didn’t have it as a category of experience—if it simply never existed for you—I think that your concept of what music is would be fantastically different. Something that’s happened, a change that’s occurred over the course of my own life that I think somewhat puts this vague claim I’m making into perspective, is the way in which seeing a film used to be something that was so dependent on so many factors that it made it largely unrepeatable. You could see the film on its theatrical release, but unless you lived in, say, New York, there were no repertory cinemas. So people saw a film once and then lived with it in memory, there was no television, there were no videotapes of films. Film existed primarily in memory, and the experience of actually seeing it was very intense.

William Gibson on Chris Marker…

I first saw Chris Marker’s La Jetée in a film history course when I was an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia. I had been vaguely aware of it earlier because it is, you know, technically a science fiction film even though it’s a short avant-garde French film. I had had in my life no opportunity to see any avant-garde French film, so I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t really expecting very much. It had this extraordinarily profound effect on me, and it’s very, very brief. I actually left the lecture hall feeling uneasily that I had somehow—that something had happened, that I’d experienced some sort of transformation, and I didn’t know what it was.

William Gibson on technophobia…

I’m dubious about ranking… I’m not sure about ranking. I’ve long suspected that what our descendants will find quaintest about us it that we made distinctions of that sort. That they’ll be looking back and they’ll be going, So strange they didn’t think Facebook was “real.” There’s a wonderful, weird book, the title of which I will probably be unable to remember, but it’s a collection of first-person accounts of Victorians encountering new technologies. It’s taken from diaries and letters—it’s not famous people, just ordinary people. The one that always struck me was an Anglican clergyman who went to a garden party, heard an Edison phonograph talking, and went home and wrote this completely terrifying description of this demonic, satanic, mechanical voice speaking to the children in the garden, and how this probably presaged the end of the world. He was just writing for himself, so he wasn’t exaggerating, and I thought, Oh, wow. He had this absolutely intense experience, but I don’t think I could say that what it caused him to fear came to pass."
williamgibson  technophobia  film  chrismarker  lajetee  culture  2016  television  tv  paulholdengraber  interviews  experience  memory  recordings  music  audio  listening  nostalgia  lajetée 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Hand that Gives — The Development Set — Medium
"In March of my senior year of college, I walked into my advisor’s office and told him that after graduating as an anthropology major, I wanted to find a job where I could “do good and travel abroad.” He suggested I go into international development, so off I went to Washington, DC, thinking I could use my liberal arts skills to improve the lives of the poor around the world.
I imagined myself spending time in villages helping people get access to clean water, building health clinics, and improving farming techniques. But in reality, I found myself sitting at a desk in Washington making hotel reservations and processing expense reports.

Eventually, I was able to get out from behind my desk, and about a year into my time working with an international development contractor I had the opportunity to travel to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. My assignment was to interview families, organizations, and team members about the effectiveness of a ten-year forestry project that was winding down. My dreams of saving the world weren’t playing out as I’d expected. Instead of hearing that our company was seen as a hero amongst the Bolivian foresters, I learned that the local community had no intention of sustaining the activities once the funding ended.

I came back from talking with the foresters, took a look at the smart expats sitting in their offices alongside idealistic young college graduates like me, and started to wonder if these are necessarily the best people to design solutions to the challenging issues the foresters were facing.

I spent another four years in Washington and became more and more disillusioned by the expat-led, top-down approach to development that I saw. I wondered about different ways of doing things and about what the private sector might have to say to the big challenges of poverty. So, I went to business school. And that education, along with experiences working and living in India, Kenya, and Silicon Valley, have made me believe that market forces can help change lives.

I’ve dedicated my work to tackling global poverty because I find the conditions in which so many people are forced to live to be unfair and unnecessary. But that disillusionment that I felt, and sometimes still feel, with the business of international aid is real. It’s what made me start asking how we might make collaboration with the poor horizontal rather than vertical. A West African proverb holds that “the hand that gives is always on top.”

How might we turn that giving hand and put it up to our ears to listen?

For decades, there has been a small but vocal group of people advocating for participatory approaches to development. Robert Chambers’s book Rural Development: Putting the Last First was published in 1983 and was a real call to action for development practitioners to become more human-centered and better listeners in their work.

Since the early 1980s, other participatory approaches have emerged including appreciative inquiry, positive deviance, and constituent voice. The one that I discovered and now practice is human-centered design. In 2007, I joined IDEO to lead its emerging social impact domain. At the time, I had a limited understanding of design but felt like trying to see if human-centered design (HCD) could be an effective approach to poverty was worth a shot. Now, eight years later and with the creation of IDEO.org, I strongly believe in the power of HCD and creative problem solving skills.

Human-centered design, like many other participatory approaches, is grounded in the notion that we must start with an understanding of the needs of the people we’re working with, see them truly as partners, and work with them to develop solutions. Often, while practicing human-centered design, the trick is less in the creation of an innovative new solution, but in designing within the complexity of a system. Human-centered designers ask questions, listen, learn, test things out, get feedback, iterate, and repeat.

Now, after 17 years working in international development tackling “Other People’s Problems” I realize how naïve I was when I started. And though I am self-critical about the simplicity with which I started my career, I know that I had to mature through the simplicity to get to the understanding of complexity that now guides my work.

Today, I encourage young people to spend time abroad, in part because I don’t believe it’s possible to turn away from the injustice of poverty once you get to know the people who live in it. It’s important to spend time really seeing people and learning about their lives. We may not all commit our lives to redressing poverty, but being up close to it is an experience that changes people.

So, before you get your passport, here are a few pieces of advice I would give to people who are curious to explore places you may have missed in your junior year abroad:

• Be a learner, not a hero. Before heading abroad, check your intentions. Are you going because you believe you have ideas to share and solutions to introduce? Or are you going because you really want to listen and learn and immerse yourself in the complexity?

• Be a listener, not a giver of advice. Instead of landing with answers to the complex, intractable challenges, engage people on the ground in conversations. Visit their homes and their workplaces, ask them questions, and share something about your life with them.

• Be a bridge, not a beacon. Share your creative ideas, but be open to an equal exchange with people who know their own context best. Seek to connect your world of resources to those living without. Work with community-based organizations to write grant proposals, raise money for their organizations, or connect them with press opportunities. For many of us, our networks are the most important asset we can bring. Imagine how you can leverage your networks rather than thinking of yourself as a solution-creator.

What is certain is that the world can use the passion and creativity of well-meaning, hard-working people — whether in Baltimore or Bukavu. But to ensure that we aren’t paving an infernal road with our good intentions, we need to remember to work with people, not for them.

The Spanish poet Antonio Machado once wrote that we make the road by walking. So I ask you: Will you walk alone? Or will you walk alongside someone who may be just as creative and passionate as you are?"

[in response to: https://medium.com/the-development-set/the-reductive-seduction-of-other-people-s-problems-3c07b307732d#.d8hmhpmla ]
socialentrepreneurship  designthinking  design  anthropology  jocelynwyatt  listening  2016  ideo  participatory  development  designimperialism  robertchambers 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Hypertext for all | A Working Library
"These rococo days of the web have been sadly lost to capricious corporate owners, and newer platforms almost seem to have recoiled from them. (I could write a whole other letter about the neutered minimalism common on a lot of platforms today, but I digress.) But I think that history is telling: in that, given a canvas on which to play, many people opted to express themselves with color and image, often spending much more effort there then on the words, and often in surprising ways.

So, I’ll ask again, is hypertext just the text? Are images, styles, video, fonts, and the like always subsidiary?

There’s an old saw about the web that says that when the web democratized publishing, everyone should have become a writer, but instead most of us became consumers. (Nevermind that email and SMS have most people writing more in a day than their Victorian ancestors wrote in their entire lives.) There’s more than a hint of disparagement and elitism in that saying: everyone should have taken up writing, which is obviously superior to reading or watching or (gasp!) consuming. And I worry that that same sentiment creeps in when we argue the supremacy of text over image on the web. Writing is an important and valuable skill, but so are many other things.

Here’s another way to think about it: over the past year, video after video has emerged showing cops shooting unarmed black people. Those videos have been shared on the web, and while they haven’t yet led to anything resembling justice for the victims, they have contributed to profound discussions around race, militarized police forces, guns, and more. They are not sufficient to bring about desperately needed social change—and there’s an argument to be made about whether they are at risk of becoming mere spectacle—but I think it would be hard to deny that they are an important element in the movement, that they have had a major impact.

You can describe what happens in each of those videos in words, but those words will never equal watching them. The words “Tamir Rice was shot two seconds after the police car pulled up” are wrenching, but not nearly as much as watching him fall to the ground as the car continues to roll. The words “Tamir Rice was twelve years old” are not as heart stoppable as seeing a photo of him. I am saying this as someone who believes in words, who spends more time with words than with pictures, who is more often moved by words than by images. But sometimes the power of an image dwarfs that of words. Even I have to admit that.

I worry that the push to keep the web defined to words, while pragmatic and reasonable in many ways, may also be used to decide what stories get told, and what stories are heard. Many more people are using their tiny computers to record video and audio and take pictures than are writing; as much as I may love writing, and as much as I know that transmitting writing via cables and air is a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than transmitting video, I’m not sure I can really stand here and say that the writing is—or should be—primary.

One of the design principles of the web is to pave the cowpaths: it looks to me like there are some new paths opening up, ones we may not have expected, ones that aren’t going to make many of our jobs easier. Maybe instead of putting up signs saying there are better paths elsewhere, it’s time we see where these ones take us."

[Noted here: https://twitter.com/rogre/status/683849479385001984 ]
mandybrown  2016  web  hypertext  maciejceglowski  geocities  myspace  webrococo  waybackmachine  pinboard  javascript  webdesign  webdev  images  multiliteracies  video  flash  zefrank  design  writing  text  words  language  listening  elitism  typography  tools  onlinetoolkit  democacy  activism  maciejcegłowski 
january 2016 by robertogreco
6, 73: Uummannaq
"Flight is a luxury even in the rich world, but so are most other particularly carbony activities. Eating beef and drinking milk, for example, causes twice as much climate change as every airplane combined. To imagine today’s standard of living without widespread beef-eating, envision bridge subsidies for ranchers and some thinkpiece-worthy changes in the rich world’s palate. To imagine today’s standard of living without widespread flight, envision gravity trains, I guess? Or, liklier, an industrial buildup as metro areas have to be more self-sustaining.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope that we will remember the people who are leaving us now as people. I hope that, one day, we will be remembered as people."
charlieloyd  2015  memory  history  humaity  humanism  evil  wwii  ww2  moderation  fascism  society  climatechange  globalwarming  flying  carbonoffsets  climatetalks  indaba  negotiating  negatiations  listening  indulgences 
december 2015 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Kindergarten Has Become the New First Grade - The Atlantic
"Pendulum shifts in education are as old as our republic. Steven Mintz, a historian who has written about the evolution of American childhood, describes an oscillation in the national zeitgeist between the notion of a “protected” childhood and that of a “prepared” one. Starting in the early 2000s, though, a confluence of forces began pushing preferences ever further in the direction of preparation: the increasing numbers of dual-career families scrambling to arrange child care; a new scientific focus on the cognitive potential of the early years; and concerns about growing ability gaps between well-off and disadvantaged children, which in turn fueled the trend of standards-based testing in public schools.

Preschool is a relatively recent addition to the American educational system. With a few notable exceptions, the government had a limited role in early education until the 1960s, when the federal Head Start program was founded. Before mothers entered the full-time workforce in large numbers, private preschools were likewise uncommon, and mainly served as a safe social space for children to learn to get along with others.

In the past few decades, however, we have seen a major transfer of child care and early learning from home to institution: Nearly three-quarters of American 4-year-olds are now in some kind of nonfamily care. That category spans a dizzying mix of privately and publicly funded preschool environments, including family-run day cares, private preschools in church basements, and Head Start programs in public elementary schools, to name a few. Across all of them, the distinction between early education and “official” school seems to be eroding.

When I survey parents of preschoolers, they tend to be on board with many of these changes, either because they fear that the old-fashioned pleasures of unhurried learning have no place in today’s hypercompetitive world or because they simply can’t find, or afford, a better option. The stress is palpable: Pick the “wrong” preschool or ease up on the phonics drills at home, and your child might not go to college. She might not be employable. She might not even be allowed to start first grade!

Media attention to the cognitive potential of early childhood has a way of exacerbating such worries, but the actual academic consensus on the components of high-quality early education tells another story. According to experts such as the Yale professor Edward Zigler, a leader in child-development and early-education policy for half a century, the best preschool programs share several features: They provide ample opportunities for young children to use and hear complex, interactive language; their curriculum supports a wide range of school-readiness goals that include social and emotional skills and active learning; they encourage meaningful family involvement; and they have knowledgeable and well-qualified teachers.

As an early-childhood educator, I’ve clocked many hours in many preschool classrooms, and I have found that I can pretty quickly take the temperature from the looks on kids’ faces, the ratio of table space to open areas, and the amount of conversation going on in either. In a high-quality program, adults are building relationships with the children and paying close attention to their thought processes and, by extension, their communication. They’re finding ways to make the children think out loud.

The real focus in the preschool years should be not just on vocabulary and reading, but on talking and listening. We forget how vital spontaneous, unstructured conversation is to young children’s understanding. By talking with adults, and one another, they pick up information. They learn how things work. They solve puzzles that trouble them. Sometimes, to be fair, what children take away from a conversation is wrong. They might conclude, as my young son did, that pigs produce ham, just as chickens produce eggs and cows produce milk. But these understandings are worked over, refined, and adapted—as when a brutal older sibling explains a ham sandwich’s grisly origins.

Teachers play a crucial role in supporting this type of learning. A 2011 study in the journal Child Development found that preschool teachers’ use of sophisticated vocabulary in informal classroom settings predicted their students’ reading comprehension and word knowledge in fourth grade. Unfortunately, much of the conversation in today’s preschool classrooms is one-directional and simplistic, as teachers steer students through a highly structured schedule, herding them from one activity to another and signaling approval with a quick “good job!”

Consider the difference between a teacher’s use of a closed statement versus an open-ended question. Imagine that a teacher approaches a child drawing a picture and exclaims, “Oh, what a pretty house!” If the child is not actually drawing a house, she might feel exposed, and even if she is drawing a house, the teacher’s remark shuts down further discussion: She has labeled the thing and said she likes it. What more is there to add? A much more helpful approach would be to say, “Tell me about your drawing,” inviting the child to be reflective. It’s never possible to anticipate everything a small person needs to learn, so open-ended inquiry can reveal what is known and unknown. Such a small pedagogic difference can be an important catalyst for a basic, but unbounded, cognitive habit—the act of thinking out loud.

Conversation is gold. It’s the most efficient early-learning system we have. And it’s far more valuable than most of the reading-skills curricula we have been implementing: One meta-analysis of 13 early-childhood literacy programs “failed to find any evidence of effects on language or print-based outcomes.” Take a moment to digest that devastating conclusion.

I was recently asked to review a popular preschool curriculum that comes with a big box of thematic units, including lists of words and “key concepts” that children are supposed to master. One objective of the curriculum’s ocean unit, for example, is to help preschoolers understand “the importance of the ocean to the environment.” Children are given a list of specific terms to learn, including exoskeleton, scallop shell, blubber, and tube feet. At first glance, this stuff seems fun and educational, but doesn’t this extremely narrow articulation of “key concepts” feel a little off? What’s so special about blubber, anyway? Might a young child not want to ponder bigger questions: What is water? Where do the blue and green come from? Could anything be more beautiful and more terrifying than an ocean?

The shift from an active and exploratory early-childhood pedagogy to a more scripted and instruction-based model does not involve a simple trade-off between play and work, or between joy and achievement. On the contrary, the preoccupation with accountability has led to a set of measures that favor shallow mimicry and recall behaviors, such as learning vocabulary lists and recognizing shapes and colors (something that a dog can do, by the way, but that is in fact an extraordinarily low bar for most curious 4-year-olds), while devaluing complex, integrative, and syncretic learning.

Last year, I observed some preschoolers conversing about whether snakes have bones. They argued at length among themselves, comparing the flexible serpentine body with dinosaur fossils and fish, both of which they had previously explored. There was no clear consensus on how these various creatures could contain the same hard skeletons, but I watched, transfixed, as each child added to the groundwork another had laid. The teacher gently guided the group as a captain might steer a large ship, with the tiniest nudge of the wheel. Finally, a little boy who had seen a snake skeleton in a museum became animated as he pantomimed the structure of a snake’s spine in a series of karate chops: “One bone, one bone, one bone,” he informed his friends. “I think we’re all going to have to do a lot more research,” the teacher replied, impressed. This loosely Socratic method is a perfect fit for young minds; the problem is that it doesn’t conform easily to a school-readiness checklist.

The academic takeover of American early learning can be understood as a shift from what I would call an “ideas-based curriculum” to a “naming-and-labeling-based curriculum.” Not coincidentally, the latter can be delivered without substantially improving our teaching force. Inexperienced or poorly supported teachers are directed to rely heavily on scripted lesson plans for a reason: We can point to a defined objective, and tell ourselves that at least kids are getting something this way.

But that something—while relatively cheap to provide—is awfully thin gruel. One major study of 700 preschool classrooms in 11 states found that only 15 percent showed evidence of effective interactions between teacher and child. Fifteen percent.

We neglect vital teacher-child interactions at our peril. Although the infusion of academics into preschool has been justified as a way to close the achievement gap between poor and well-off children, Robert Pianta, one of the country’s leading child-policy experts, cautions that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that our early-learning system is suited to that task. He estimates that the average preschool program “narrows the achievement gap by perhaps only 5 percent,” compared with the 30 to 50 percent that studies suggest would be possible with higher-quality programs. Contrasting the dismal results of Tennessee’s preschool system with the more promising results in places such as Boston, which promotes active, child-centered learning (and, spends more than twice the national average on preschool), lends further credence to the idea that preschool quality really does matter.

It’s become almost a cliché to look to Finland’s educational system for inspiration. As has … [more]
education  pedagogy  learning  literacy  listening  preschool  kindergarten  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  finland  erikachristakis  2015  schools  edreform  conversation  vocabulary  cv  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  directinstruction  schoolreadiness 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Reverting to Type: A Reader’s Story |
"It did become my thing. I transferred to what we thought of as the University of Alabama, the one in Tuscaloosa, largely because it had a better English department. I double-majored in English and history, and at some point decided — what considerations went into the decision I no longer remember — that I wanted to go to graduate school to study more literature. So I attended the University of Virginia. I developed a historical sense — my love for Browne’s prose led me to spend most of my time in the seventeenth century, until a relatively late encounter with the poetry of W. H. Auden made a modernist of me — amassed a repertoire of critical gestures, learned to invoke the names and terms of High Theory in the proper ways and at the proper times. I was initiated into the academic guild; I became a professor.

It wasn’t always easy, of course. In my last weeks as an undergraduate one of my professors had taken me aside and whispered to me the sacred names of Barthes and Derrida, and told me I should make fuller acquaintance with them. I dutifully wrote down the names and immediately forgot about them. Since none of this Theory stuff had previously been mentioned to me in my undergraduate career, how important could it be? So when I plunged into my first graduate classes — including a theoretical survey in which we read Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Horkheimer and Adorno, Husserl, Heidegger, Ricoeur, Jakobson, Althusser, Brooks, Frye, de Beauvoir, Kenneth Burke, and, yes, Barthes and Derrida, among others — I was immediately transformed from a confident critic-in-the-making to a lost lamb, baahing reproachfully, petulantly.

Ten weeks or so into my first semester I decided that I just couldn’t cut it and needed to drop out. But I was a newlywed, and had carried my bride hundreds of miles from her family, set her down in a strange town, and effectively forced her to hunt for compartatively menial jobs, all to support this great academic endeavor of mine. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her how miserable and incompetent and just plain lost I was.

Our apartment in Charlottesville had a small windowless room that I used for a study. One evening after dinner I went in and closed the door and tried to sort through the vast pile of photocopied theoretical essays I had bought at Kinko’s on the first day of class. (We could violate copyright in those days, too.) But it was useless. I could scarcely bear even to look at the stuff. My professor had copied from his own well-used books, and every essay was full of confident underlinings and annotations that seemed by their very presence to judge me and find me wanting. I couldn’t bring myself to read another word.

My eyes wandered to a nearby bookshelf, and were caught for a moment by the glit of a gold cardboard box: it contained the three volumes of the Ballantine mass-market version of The Lord of the Rings. I had never read Tolkien: I was a science-fiction guy, not a fantasy guy. But of course I knew that The Trilogy (as I thought of it) was important, and that someday I ought to get to it. Almost thoughtlessly, I picked up the first volume and began to read.

When bedtime rolled around I set the book down and emerged from the sanctuary. “How’d it go tonight?” Teri asked.

I said, “It went well.”

The next evening I re-entered the study, under the pretense of continuing my academic labors with all due seriousness, and picked up where I had left off in the story. For the next week or so, though during the days I went to classes and did generally what I was supposed to do, I did none of the reading or writing I was assigned. I got further and further behind. I didn’t care; I was somewhere else and glad to be somewhere else. Teri seemed pleased with my scholarly discipline, as each evening I washed the dishes, gave her a kiss, and closed the study door behind me.

When I finished The Lord of the Rings I drew a deep breath. I felt more sound and whole than I had felt in weeks, maybe months. But, to my own surprise, I did not conclude that all that academic crap was a waste of time and I should do something else with my life, something that gave me time to read lots of fantasy novels. Instead, I experienced a strange refreshment, almost an exhilaration. My confusion and frustration seemed like small afflictions, conquerable adversaries. Barthes and Derrida weren’t so fearsome after all. I could do this.

I don’t believe that I was thinking, “Literary theory is as nothing in comparison to the power of Mordor!” Or, “If Frodo can carry that Ring to the Cracks of Doom I can write this paper on Paul Ricoeur!” Rather, I was just benefiting from spending some time away from my anxieties. We had been too intimate and needed separation. So I resumed my studies in a far better frame of mind; as a result, I did better work. I completed my doctorate and began my career as a teacher, but I didn’t forget the debt I owed to that week I spent in Tolkien’s world."



"In a sense I am only talking here about expanding my repertoire of analogies, my ability to make illuminating and meaningful comparisons. For many years now Douglas Hofstadter, drawing on the work of the mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, has been convinced that the secret to creating artificial intelligence lies in teaching machines to recognize analogies. (Ulam says somewhere that it’s all about “as”: we see marks on a piece of wood pulp as a portrait of a beloved child, a cairn of stones as a monument to a dead chieftain.) Similar principles underlie the methods of Google Translate, which collects an enormous corpus of sentences and then tries to match your input to something in that corpus, and Apple’s “digital personal assistant,” Siri. Siri can’t parse what you say to her unless she can connect to the network, which undertakes a comparison of your utterance to other utterances on record. All this might be called brute-force analogizing, but it seems to me that my own understanding develops as I pursue the same method, though with far less force and (I hope) less brutishness.

In one of his most beautiful poems, Richard Wilbur writes, “Odd that a thing is most itself when likened.” And this is true no matter the thing: a book becomes more fully itself when we see both how it resembles and how is differs from other books; one discipline of study takes on its proper hues only when we see its relations to other disciplines that stand close to it or very far away. My repertoire of analogies is my toolbox, or my console of instruments, by which I comprehend and navigate the world. It can’t be too large; every addition helps, at least a bit. And that’s why I’m thankful for my gradual recovery of the books I adored, and thoughts I lovingly entertained, when I was forty years younger."
alanjacobs  howweread  reading  2015  analogies  metaphor  text  pleasurereading  richardwilbur  harukimurukami  jrrtolkein  thelordoftherings  stainslawulam  loreneisley  sciencefiction  understanding  literarycriticism  genrefiction  fiction  literature  academia  writing  howwewrite  howwelearn  books  jacquesderrida  rolandbarthes  whauden  sirthomasbrowne  williamfaulkner  nealstephenson  joycecaroloates  twocultures  cpsnow  jamesgleick  linux  learning  canon  digressions  amateurism  dabbling  listening  communication  howweteach  teaching  education  silos 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Someone Put Giant Megaphones in the Woods So You Can Listen to the Forest «TwistedSifter
"51% of Estonia is covered with forests and according to author Valdur Mikita, ‘Estonian culture is intertwined and imbued with forests’. In September, students from the Interior Architecture Department at the Estonian Academy of Arts installed three gigantic wooden megaphones that let you listen to naturally amplified sounds of the surrounding forest.

The student project was executed in collaboration with the Estonian Forest Management Centre and the multi-purpose megaphones also double as a sitting and resting area as well as a stage for small events.

Most of the installation was built in Tallinn at the end of August and then shipped to Võrumaa, Pähni Nature Centre—not far from Latvian border—where it has been installed and opened to the public as of September 18th.

The project was led by Birgit Õigus, with the rest of her coursemates Mariann Drell, Ardo Hiiuväin, Lennart Lind, Henri Kaarel Luht, Mariette Nõmm, Johanna Sepp, Kertti Soots and Sabine Suuster helping out with the building process.

You can find dropbox folders of the building process and transport/installation and visit the project page for more information."

[See also:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jpqt1lpc4mcueqn/AABmt1Pf1uYjpfb1ZL3N-TVAa?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/59doqwq0u6qngyx/AAAr7a1V2il_zW8REbVCPPwla?dl=0

and

"Unplugged Kingsize Megaphones Help Nature Explorers Hear the Forests"
http://www.artun.ee/en/unplugged-kingsize-megaphones-help-nature-explorers-to-listen-to-the-forests-2/
estonia  listening  forests  sounds  megaphones  audio  sound  trees 
november 2015 by robertogreco
paperplanes. To Be a Better Listener, Embrace the Awkward Pause
"About a year ago I met one of our team members in person for the first time. We hung out for the entire day, talking about all kinds of things, problems we were facing with our company at the time were amongst them.

During those conversations he taught me a simple yet rather powerful conversation technique: the awkward pause. It’s since become an important tool for me in 1:1s and conversations with other people.

When you talk about a problematic topic, there tends to be that moment when the other party stops talking. It can happen for lots of reasons. They don’t want to rat someone out, they don’t want to vent, they’re looking for the right words to express themselves, or the topic is so uncomfortable that they don’t want to continue talking about it.

When you’re impatient, it’s tempting to pick up the conversation in those moments. You ask further questions, you start talking about your point of view, you possibly even change the topic thinking that there’s not much more to get out of it.

Our intuition makes the awkward pause weird for both of us. It feels uncomfortable because no one is talking when this entire meeting is about talking, exchanging ideas and thoughts. The temptation to chime in and take over the conversation is big. Nobody likes the awkward pause.

When you chime in and interrupt the awkward pause, breaking this uncomfortable silence, the topic likely drops off the other person’s mind. Whatever troubles they’ve had, they’re unlikely to come up again in this meeting. They’re more likely to come up in some future conversation, when that person has gotten to a point where the topic has made them so unhappy that it turns into a vent, or maybe even in their resignation.

Interrupting the awkward pause means losing out on invaluable information and insight. What comes after the awkward pause is usually the real issues on that person’s mind. Whether what you’re going to hear is actionable or not, a vent, a personal issue, it’s the underlying issue of everything else you’ve talked about up until this point.

It’s the essence of what the conversation is all about. Breaking out of the awkward pause makes sure that essence is lost forever, possibly never to be seen again.

When you find yourself in a conversation and you can feel that you’re in an awkward pause moment, take a deep breath, focus on the other person and just wait. Resist the urge to continue the conversation and let the other person continue digging up the real issue that’s on their mind. Resist the urge to break out of the awkwardness and just let the other person talk when they’re ready.

Embracing the awkward pause is possibly one of the simplest and most effective tools to make you a better listener. It helps you build trust and develop more patience in conversations with your reports and your peers. I’d go as far as considering it an essential leadership skill.

Thanks, Dan, for teaching me an invaluable skill!"
listening  conversation  2015  mathiasmeyer  slow  silence 
october 2015 by robertogreco