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Arthur Jafa: Not All Good, Not All Bad on Vimeo
"We went to Los Angeles and visited the winner of the prestigious Venice Biennale's 2019 Golden Lion, American artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa. In this extensive interview, he talks about black identity in connection with his critically acclaimed video ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’, which became a worldwide sensation.

“I’m trying to have enough distance from the thing, that I can actually see it clearly. But at the same time, be able to flip the switch and be inside of it.” Jafa describes how he has rewired himself to push towards things that disturb him. He grew up in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions in America, and admires the fearless and relentless pictures from that region by Danish photographer Jacob Holdt in ‘American Pictures’ (1977): “They exist outside of the formal parameters of art photography. I think they exist outside of journalism. They’re something else.”

Since childhood, Jafa has collected images in books, as if he was window-shopping, “compiling things that you don’t have access to.” The act of compiling and putting things together helps him figure out “what it is you’re actually attracted to.” When he “strung together” ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’, it was engendered by the explosion of citizen cellphone-documentation – the point in time where people discovered the power of being able to document. Jafa comments that his “preoccupation with blackness is fundamental philosophical” rather than political, and considers ‘whiteness’ a “pathological construction that’s come about as a result of a lot of complicated things.” In continuation of this, Jafa is against “highs and lows,” and some of the power of the work, he finds, is that it doesn’t make those distinctions. Instead of doing hierarchies, it accepts that opposites don’t have to negate each other, and tries to understand the diversity, differentiation and complexity in the world: “It’s not all good, it’s not all bad.”

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960) is an American Mississippi-born visual artist, film director, and cinematographer. His acclaimed video ‘Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death’ (2016), shows a montage of historical and contemporary film footage to trace Black American experiences throughout history. Jafa has exhibited widely including at the Hirshhorn in Los Angeles, Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Tate Liverpool in Liverpool and Serpentine Galleries in London. His work as a cinematographer with directors such as Spike Lee and Stanley Kubrick has been notable, and his work on ‘Daughters of the Dust’ (1991) won the ‘Best Cinematography’ Award at Sundance. In 2019, Jafa was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist at the Venice Biennale for his film ‘The White Album’. Jafa has also worked as a director of photography on several music videos, including for Solange Knowles and Jay-Z. Jafa co-founded TNEG with Malik Sayeed, a “motion picture studio whose goal is to create a black cinema as culturally, socially and economically central to the 21st century as was black music to the 20th century.” He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Arthur Jafa was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his studio in Los Angeles in November 2018. In the video, extracts are shown from ‘Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death’ (2016) by Arthur Jafa. The seven-minute video is set to Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea fonden"
arthurjafa  art  film  filmmaking  identity  blackness  whiteness  photography  imagery  collection  images  books  compilation  compiling  access  collecting  collections  documentation  documentary  complexity  video  montage  marc-christophwagner  childhood  mississippi  bernieeames  distance  survival  experience  culture  mississippidelta  seeing  perspective  democracy  smarthphones  mobile  phones  cameras  jacobholdt  clarksdale  tupelo  patriarchy  race  racism  billcosby  duality  hitler  thisandthat  ambiguity  barackobama  keepingitreal  donaldtrump  diversity  hope  hierarchy  melancholy  differentiation  audience  audiencesofone  variety  canon 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away | The New Yorker
"During the first few days of my Internet decluttering, I found myself compulsively checking my unchanged in-box and already-read text messages, and scanning the same headlines over and over—attempting, as if bewitched, to see new information there. I took my dog out for longer walks, initially trying to use them for some productive purpose: spying on neighbors, planning my week. Soon I acquiesced to a dull, pleasant blankness. One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky.

“Nothing is harder to do than nothing,” Jenny Odell writes, in her new book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” (Melville House). Odell, a multidisciplinary artist who teaches at Stanford, is perhaps best known for a pamphlet called “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch,” which she put together while in residence at the Museum of Capitalism, in Oakland. Odell investigated the origins of a blandly stylish watch that was being offered for free (plus shipping) on Instagram, and found a mirrored fun house of digital storefronts that looked as though they had been generated by algorithm. The retailers advertised themselves as brands that had physical origins in glitzy Miami Beach or hip San Francisco but were, in fact, placeless nodes in a vast web of scammy global wholesalers, behind which a human presence could hardly be discerned.

Like Newport, Odell thinks that we should spend less time on the Internet. Unlike him, she wants readers to question the very idea of productivity. Life is “more than an instrument and therefore something that cannot be optimized,” she writes. To find the physical world sufficiently absorbing, to conceive of the self as something that “exceeds algorithmic description”—these are not only “ends in and of themselves, but inalienable rights belonging to anyone lucky enough to be alive.” Odell details, with earnest wonder, moments in her life when she was reoriented toward these values. After the 2016 election, she began feeding peanuts to two crows on her balcony, and found comfort in the fact that “these essentially wild animals recognized me, that I had some place in their universe.” She also developed a fascination, via Google Maps, with the creek behind her old kindergarten, and she went to see it with a friend. She followed the creek bed, which, she learned, runs beneath Cupertino’s shopping centers and Apple’s headquarters. The creek became a reminder that under the “streamlined world of products, results, experiences, reviews” there is a “giant rock whose other lifeforms operate according to an ancient, oozing, almost chthonic logic.”

Odell elegantly aligns the crisis in our natural world and the crisis in our minds: what has happened to the natural world is happening to us, she contends, and it’s happening on the same soon-to-be-irreparable scale. She sees “little difference between habitat restoration in the traditional sense and restoring habitats for human thought”; both are endangered by “the logic of capitalist productivity.” She believes that, by constantly disclosing our needs and desires to tech companies that sift through our selfhood in search of profit opportunities, we are neglecting, even losing, our mysterious, murky depths—the parts of us that don’t serve an ulterior purpose but exist merely to exist. The “best, most alive parts” of ourselves are being “paved over by a ruthless logic of use.”

“Digital Minimalism” and “How to Do Nothing” could both be categorized as highbrow how-to—an artist and a computer scientist, both of them in their thirties, wrestling with the same timely prompt. (At one point, Odell writes, she thought of her book as activism disguised as self-help.) Rather than a philosophy of technology use, Odell offers a philosophy of modern life, which she calls “manifest dismantling,” and which she intends as the opposite of Manifest Destiny. It involves rejecting the sort of progress that centers on isolated striving, and emphasizing, instead, caregiving, maintenance, and the interdependence of things. Odell grew up in the Bay Area, and her work is full of unabashed hippie moments that might provoke cynicism. But, for me—and, I suspect, for others who have come of age alongside the Internet and have coped with the pace and the precariousness of contemporary living with a mixture of ambient fatalism and flares of impetuous tenderness—she struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Odell writes about the first electronic bulletin-board system, which was set up, in Berkeley, in 1972, as a “communal memory bank.” She contrasts it with Nextdoor, a notoriously paranoid neighborhood-based social platform that was recently valued at $1.5 billion, inferring that the profit motive had perverted what can be a healthy civic impulse. Newport, who does not have any social-media accounts of his own, generally treats social media’s current profit model as an unfortunate inevitability. Odell believes that there is another way. She cites, for example, the indie platform Mastodon, which is crowdfunded and decentralized. (It is made up of independently operated nodes, called “instances,” on which users can post short messages, or “toots.”) To make money from something—a forest, a sense of self—is often to destroy it. Odell brings up a famous redwood in Oakland called Old Survivor, which is estimated to be almost five hundred years old. Unlike all the other trees of its kind in the area, it was never cut down, because it was runty and twisted and situated on a rocky slope; it appeared unprofitable to loggers. The tree, she writes, is an image of “resistance-in-place,” of something that has escaped capitalist appropriation. As Odell sees it, the only way forward is to be like Old Survivor. We have to be able to do nothing—to merely bear witness, to stay in place, to create shelter for one another—to endure."



"My Newport-inspired Internet cleanse happened to coincide with a handful of other events that made me feel raw and unmanageable. It was the end of winter, with its sudden thaws and strange fluctuations—the type of weather where a day of sunshine feels like a stranger being kind to you when you cry. I had just finished writing a book that had involved going through a lot of my past. The hours per day that I had spent converting my experience into something of professional and financial value were now empty, and I was cognizant of how little time I had spent caring for the people and things around me. I began thinking about my selfhood as a meadow of wildflowers that had been paved over by the Internet. I started frantically buying houseplants.

I also found myself feeling more grateful for my phone than ever. I had become more conscious of why I use technology, and how it meets my needs, as Newport recommended. It’s not nothing that I can text my friends whenever I think about them, or get on Viber and talk to my grandmother in the Philippines, or sit on the B54 bus and distract myself from the standstill traffic by looking up the Fermi paradox and listening to any A Tribe Called Quest song that I want to hear. All these capacities still feel like the stuff of science fiction, and none of them involve Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. It occurred to me that two of the most straightforwardly beloved digital technologies—podcasts and group texts—push against the attention economy’s worst characteristics. Podcasts often demand sustained listening, across hours and weeks, to a few human voices. Group texts are effectively the last noncommercialized social spaces on many millennials’ phones.

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be."
jiatolentino  2019  internet  attention  jennyodell  capitalism  work  busyness  resistance  socialmedia  instagram  twitter  facebook  infooverload  performance  web  online  nature  nextdoor  advertising  thoreau  philosophy  care  caring  maintenance  silence  happiness  anxiety  leisurearts  artleisure  commodification  technology  selfhood  identity  sms  texting  viber  podcasts  grouptexts  digitalminimalism  refusal  calnewport  mobile  phones  smartphones  screentime  ralphwaldoemerson  separatism  interdependence 
april 2019 by robertogreco
A Book Addict's Defense of the Smartphone | Technology and Learning
"A counterargument to the emerging conventional wisdom"



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Sleep problems.

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

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

I could go on enumerating all the disturbing smartphone statistics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you use your phone to read books?"
smartphones  mobile  phones  howweread  reading  joshuakim  infooverload  distraction  kindle  ebooks  audiobooks  access  accessibility  attention  2019 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Urban innovation doesn't have to leave rural areas behind — Quartz
"A nice house in the country is an aspirational lifestyle for many: a little place in Norfolk or Maine, a few acres of land, an old farmhouse that’s been nicely retrofitted, maybe a few solar panels on the roof. You could grow some of your own vegetables in the garden and use the internet to video-conference into the office. You’d be back to the land, with all the creature comforts of the city.

But it’s very expensive to pull yourself out of Western industrial capitalism and give yourself the simpler life. If you try and do that in Britain, it’ll cost at least £300,000 (USD$380,000) to buy the place and get it set up. Then you’ve got to spend £20,000 to £50,000 a year to maintain your lifestyle on top of that. You’re basically going back to what the original builders of that farmhouse had, but the difference is that now you have an internet connection, clean water, and solar panels—and it cost you nearly half a million pounds to get there.

For so many of us, the urban phase of existence is seen as an on-ramp that will hopefully one day take us back into the rural phase; the city is where you come to make the money to buy yourself back out into the country. A simple rural life is the golden apple at the end of the capitalist trip, the brass ring that 30 or 40 years of successful work buys you. But it’s also a paradox: We want to pay to live in the near-poverty that the original builders of our dreamy farmhouse were working to escape.

That was 1600s England. Modern-day South America, India, parts of China, and most of Africa essentially have the same lifestyle niche that most of Britain had in the Elizabethan era. Their standard of living is very low. Their water is dirty. The open fires on which they cook on emit a lot of smoke, so everybody is smoking the equivalent of 20 cigarettes a day. There are all kinds of terrible diseases that lower life expectancy, and somewhere between one in five to one in 20 children will die before the age of five.

But rural life doesn’t have to look like this. It is my prediction that in the 21st century, the villagers of Africa, India, and South America will leapfrog over the city—and the rest of Western industrialized society. Instead of aspiring to migrate to the cities to make a bunch of money, the rural farmers of the developing world will be soon able to stay where they are with low-cost, local, distributed versions of all the critical amenities they need.

Start with a building, like a mud or thatched hut. Put a cheap, water-resistant coating on the outside and some solar panels on the roof, just enough to charge your cell phone. Thanks to cheap water filters—you can buy them for about 30 quid now—you’ll also have clean drinking water. There are some great designs from an English outfit called Safe Water Trust that are even cheaper, and they’ll last more-or-less forever in a typical village context.

With your phone charged, you’ll be able to access the internet; rural areas are increasingly equipped with 3G, 4G, or soon-to-be 5G connections. Your kids will therefore be able to get an education off your tablet computer—which now can cost as little as $35—and those solar panels on the roof can keep it running. You can make some money, too, like doing a bit of translation work for your cousin who lives in New York, or some web development for your ex-colleague’s start-up. You’re still growing your vegetables out the back, but now you can look up crop diseases, and there’s this thing called permaculture that you’re also taking an online course in.

Humans need to explore this mode of living if we are to continue catapulting down this materialistic path. When we wind up with a global population of 9 billion, where everybody has two cars and a four-bedroom house, there’s no other way of arranging the pieces. There isn’t enough metal in the earth, never mind enough money.

We’re therefore at a dead end. Inequality is here to stay. But inequality doesn’t have to mean abject poverty. These rural communities will have access to self-sufficient peasant agriculture, education by internet, and a standard of living that is roughly what we aspire to have when we get rich and retire—but they’ll be able to achieve it without going through the urban hyper-capitalist phase first.

This notion of rural life will be centered around the bicycle, the solar panel, and the tablet computer instead of the Land Rover, the diesel generator, and the combine harvester. A life of stable self-sufficiency, rather than precarious plenty. If leapfrogging rural communities can manifest an existence that would satisfy the lawyer-turned-faux-farmer, the notion of rural-urban-and-then-back-to-rural migration would reach the end of the cul-de-sac."
cities  rural  leapfrogging  vinaygupta  2018  capitalism  solar  internet  web  connectivity  simplicity  decentralization  mobile  phones  smartphones  technology  tablets 
march 2019 by robertogreco
I Embraced Screen Time With My Daughter—and I Love It | WIRED
I often turn to my sister, Mimi Ito, for advice on these issues. She has raised two well-adjusted kids and directs the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine, where researchers conduct extensive research on children and technology. Her opinion is that “most tech-privileged parents should be less concerned with controlling their kids’ tech use and more about being connected to their digital lives.” Mimi is glad that the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) dropped its famous 2x2 rule—no screens for the first two years, and no more than two hours a day until a child hits 18. She argues that this rule fed into stigma and parent-shaming around screen time at the expense of what she calls “connected parenting”—guiding and engaging in kids’ digital interests.

One example of my attempt at connected parenting is watching YouTube together with Kio, singing along with Elmo as Kio shows off the new dance moves she’s learned. Everyday, Kio has more new videos and favorite characters that she is excited to share when I come home, and the songs and activities follow us into our ritual of goofing off in bed as a family before she goes to sleep. Her grandmother in Japan is usually part of this ritual in a surreal situation where she is participating via FaceTime on my wife’s iPhone, watching Kio watching videos and singing along and cheering her on. I can’t imagine depriving us of these ways of connecting with her.

The (Unfounded) War on Screens

The anti-screen narrative can sometimes read like the War on Drugs. Perhaps the best example is Glow Kids, in which Nicholas Kardaras tells us that screens deliver a dopamine rush rather like sex. He calls screens “digital heroin” and uses the term “addiction” when referring to children unable to self-regulate their time online.

More sober (and less breathlessly alarmist) assessments by child psychologists and data analysts offer a more balanced view of the impact of technology on our kids. Psychologist and baby observer Alison Gopnik, for instance, notes: “There are plenty of mindless things that you could be doing on a screen. But there are also interactive, exploratory things that you could be doing.” Gopnik highlights how feeling good about digital connections is a normal part of psychology and child development. “If your friends give you a like, well, it would be bad if you didn’t produce dopamine,” she says.

Other research has found that the impact of screens on kids is relatively small, and even the conservative AAP says that cases of children who have trouble regulating their screen time are not the norm, representing just 4 percent to 8.5 percent of US children. This year, Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben conducted a rigorous analysis of data on more than 350,000 adolescents and found a nearly negligible effect on psychological well-being at the aggregate level.

In their research on digital parenting, Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross found widespread concern among parents about screen time. They posit, however, that “screen time” is an unhelpful catchall term and recommend that parents focus instead on quality and joint engagement rather than just quantity. The Connected Learning Lab’s Candice Odgers, a professor of psychological sciences, reviewed the research on adolescents and devices and found as many positive as negative effects. She points to the consequences of unbalanced attention on the negative ones. “The real threat isn’t smartphones. It’s this campaign of misinformation and the generation of fear among parents and educators.”

We need to immediately begin rigorous, longitudinal studies on the effects of devices and the underlying algorithms that guide their interfaces and their interactions with and recommendations for children. Then we can make evidence-based decisions about how these systems should be designed, optimized for, and deployed among children, and not put all the burden on parents to do the monitoring and regulation.

My guess is that for most kids, this issue of screen time is statistically insignificant in the context of all the other issues we face as parents—education, health, day care—and for those outside my elite tech circles even more so. Parents like me, and other tech leaders profiled in a recent New York Times series about tech elites keeping their kids off devices, can afford to hire nannies to keep their kids off screens. Our kids are the least likely to suffer the harms of excessive screen time. We are also the ones least qualified to be judgmental about other families who may need to rely on screens in different ways. We should be creating technology that makes screen entertainment healthier and fun for all families, especially those who don’t have nannies.

I’m not ignoring the kids and families for whom digital devices are a real problem, but I believe that even in those cases, focusing on relationships may be more important than focusing on controlling access to screens.

Keep It Positive

One metaphor for screen time that my sister uses is sugar. We know sugar is generally bad for you and has many side effects and can be addictive to kids. However, the occasional bonding ritual over milk and cookies might have more benefit to a family than an outright ban on sugar. Bans can also backfire, fueling binges and shame as well as mistrust and secrecy between parents and kids.

When parents allow kids to use computers, they often use spying tools, and many teens feel parental surveillance is invasive to their privacy. One study showed that using screen time to punish or reward behavior actually increased net screen time use by kids. Another study by Common Sense Media shows what seems intuitively obvious: Parents use screens as much as kids. Kids model their parents—and have a laserlike focus on parental hypocrisy.

In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle describes the fracturing of family cohesion because of the attention that devices get and how this has disintegrated family interaction. While I agree that there are situations where devices are a distraction—I often declare “laptops closed” in class, and I feel that texting during dinner is generally rude—I do not feel that iPhones necessarily draw families apart.

In the days before the proliferation of screens, I ran away from kindergarten every day until they kicked me out. I missed more classes than any other student in my high school and barely managed to graduate. I also started more extracurricular clubs in high school than any other student. My mother actively supported my inability to follow rules and my obsessive tendency to pursue my interests and hobbies over those things I was supposed to do. In the process, she fostered a highly supportive trust relationship that allowed me to learn through failure and sometimes get lost without feeling abandoned or ashamed.

It turns out my mother intuitively knew that it’s more important to stay grounded in the fundamentals of positive parenting. “Research consistently finds that children benefit from parents who are sensitive, responsive, affectionate, consistent, and communicative” says education professor Stephanie Reich, another member of the Connected Learning Lab who specializes in parenting, media, and early childhood. One study shows measurable cognitive benefits from warm and less restrictive parenting.

When I watch my little girl learning dance moves from every earworm video that YouTube serves up, I imagine my mother looking at me while I spent every waking hour playing games online, which was my pathway to developing my global network of colleagues and exploring the internet and its potential early on. I wonder what wonderful as well as awful things will have happened by the time my daughter is my age, and I hope a good relationship with screens and the world beyond them can prepare her for this future."
joiito  parenting  screentime  mimiito  techology  screens  children  alisongopnik  2019  computers  computing  tablets  phones  smartphones  mobile  nicholaskardaras  addiction  prohibition  andrewprzybylski  aliciablum-ross  sonialvingstone  amyorben  adolescence  psychology  candiceodgers  research  stephaniereich  connectedlearning  learning  schools  sherryturkle  trust 
march 2019 by robertogreco
New American Outline 1
"These days, the mirrors we most often use to check our makeup or see if there’s gunk in our teeth are found on our phones — “smart” devices that coordinate an array of sensors and cutting-edge “image display” and “image capture” technologies to render reality within the boundaries of a powered physical display.

What’s interesting about smart-devices-as-mirrors is that the eventual representation of the “image of the world” is explicitly and wholly a “model” of the world — a “model” meaning a “ human-constructed representation (abstraction) of something that exists in reality”. Physical mirrors are interesting because they have the ability to render reality and even warp it, but what they depict is “a physical reality” in the truest sense; The physical qualities of a mirror can be seen as akin to seeing the world through air, or seeing the world through water. While a human being can physically manipulate a physical mirror to alter the final reflection, the reflection in and of itself is a product of the physical world and unalterable in totality.

To a degree, film photography was an extension of this physical realization (rendering) of reality. At a certain point, what else is the capture of light on paper but a wholly physical process? While people intervened in the path of light’s travel with lenses and apertures and specifically-designed crystal-studded paper, what emerges as a process is less a constructed model of reality and more a continually warped representation of what actually exists in the world. Film and paper photography was a deeply labor-intensive art, full of cutting and cropping and poisoning and brushwork, all serving the act of rendering what was once a beam of light into an image-rendering of a particular summer day. Impressionism lives on in this sense.

It wasn’t until recently that most photographs became literal abstractions or literal models of thought with the advent of digital photographic capture. While the earliest digital photographs presented terrible image quality/resolution, they were possibly the most honest representations of what they actually were: a product of humans manipulating bits through clever mathematic compression to render blocks of color accordingly.

“How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real?”

What we “see” in our screens is wholly a model of reality, wholly an abstraction of the natural world, wholly determined and manufactured by people sitting in an office in California somewhere, typing away at an IDE. When we strip away the image rendered on a screen, when we deconstruct an algorithm, what’s left?

What does it mean when most models (abstractions) of our digital representations are constructed in California, or completely in America for that matter?

When I look at myself on my phone camera, why do I get the haunting feeling I’m not situated in New York anymore? When I scroll through all the photos of friends and strangers on Facebook or Twitter, why does it all feel so flat? When I tap through my friend’s stories on Instagram and get interrupted by an ad for shoes, why does the shoe ad feel more real than the stories it’s sandwiched between?"



"New American Interfaces

When we talk about “New American Interfaces”, it’s important to expand upon the meaning of each word for a complete sense of the conceptual picture we’re trying to paint.

We should imagine “New American Interfaces” to be less a definition, more an expansion. Less an encircling and more an arrangement collage [https://www.are.na/block/736425 ] of existing realities.

“New”ness is a direct reference to developments in human technology that span the last 10 years or so. “New” American technology does not refer to technology that was developed in the 1970s. “New” American Technology is not a reference to networking protocols or personal computers proliferating in the 90s. “Newness” refers to mobile phones finding themselves in billions of people’s hands and pockets. “Newness” refers to the viability of video streaming over wireless networks. “New” implies cameras directly imbued with the capability to re-model reality and assign social value through “the arrangement of certain interfaces” only found in the most cutting-edge devices. “New”ness implies the forgetting of the massive stacks of technology that exist to show us images of our friends and their lives in chronological order.

“America” speaks to the “Americanness” of the current world. Totalizing global governance, military might, far-reaching memetic saturation the rest of the world cannot escape from. “America” means pop culture, “America” means world police. “America” retains the ability to wobble the economy of the world when executives shitpost on Twitter. When we talk about “America”, we mean the hegemonic cultural-economic infrastructure the rest of the world rests upon whether they like it or not.

“Interfaces” speak to not any button, slider, or like button physical or digital or otherwise. “Interfaces” in the sense of “New American” interfaces refer to what Kevin Systrom meant when he called Snapchat a “format”. A replicable stack(s) of technology is an “interface”. An “interface” under this definition means every chat application is fundamentally the same and completely interchangeable. Linear conversation will always be linear conversation, and the pattern of linear conversation is what we call a messaging app, and we call this an “interface”. Every search interface is the same, every index is the same, every captive portal is the same. To take our example to the physical world, imagine this scene:

You see two chairs side by side with one another. From afar, they are completely the same. You inspect them close and they are the same, you notice they both are built from the same beautiful ash wood, every single detail is perfectly mirrored in both chairs.

One of these chairs was wholly made by human hands and the other was cut to shape by a machine, assembled by people on a factory line, and produced in the millions.

One of these chairs is an interface —"

[See also: https://www.are.na/edouard-urcades/new-american-interface ]
édouardurcades  mirrors  interfaces  ui  ux  cameras  stories  instagram  storytelling  reality  2019  snapchat  multimedia  media  kevinsystrom  format  form  newness  technology  smartphones  mobile  phones  images  imagery  buttons  jadensmith  lukaswinklerprins 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Bauhaus bus embarks on world tour to explore the school's global legacy
"A bus that looks like the Bauhaus school in Dessau will travel around the world this year, aiming to "unlearn" the influential school's Eurocentric attitudes.

Called Wohnmaschine, which means "living house", the small-scale Bauhaus bus will travel between four cities in 2019, the school's centenary year.

Designed by Berlin-based architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel, the 15-square-metre mobile building is created in the image of the iconic workshop wing of the Bauhaus school building in Dessau – a building conceived by founding director Walter Gropius and built in 1919, to embody the school's core principles and values.

It features the same gridded glass walls that wrap around the building, as well as the famous lettering down one side.

Inside is an apartment-like space, containing an area to host exhibitions and workshops, plus a reading room filled with books charting the Bauhaus' history and legacy.

The project, called Spinning Triangles, begins in Dessau. From there the bus will travel to Berlin, where the Bauhaus-Archiv is located, before travelling overseas to Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Hong Kong.

Over the 10-month tour, design collective Savvy Contemporary will host a series of symposiums and workshops that attempt to challenge and "unlearn" colonial attitudes towards modernity, to develop a more global interpretation of the school's teachings.

"This school will not be developed by the geopolitical west, but through the accelerated movement between deeply interwoven places," said Savvy Contemporary.

"Design has power. It creates our environments, our interactions, our being in the world," added the organisation. "For too long, practices and narratives from the global south have been kept at the periphery of the design discourse, been ignored altogether, or appropriated."

Open to the public, the installation is beginning with four workshops in Dessau between 4 and 22 January, exploring the relationship between colonialism and modernity.

"We will face the relations of coloniality and design as well as its various visibilities and invisibilities," explained Savvy Contemporary.

The Wohnmaschine will travel to Berlin between 24 and 27 January to coincide with the opening festival 100 Years Bauhaus, before making its way to Kinshasa for workshops between 4 and 12 April.

Here, hired actors will play out the roles of various colonies, to discuss how everyday environments can be used to create a "collective future". The intention is to develop an inclusive modernist manifesto, devoid of Eurocentric views.

Five representatives from the workshops in Kinshasa will travel back to Berlin to share their research with 40 students at Savvy Contemporary's headquarters between 22 July and 18 August. The aim is to show that "it may not be the south that needs development but the north".

"Words and actions aim to challenge and transform Bauhaus traditions and narratives of modernity and modernism," said the organisers.

Finally, the school will move to Hong Kong's Para Site art space, where it will discuss its research further.

The Bauhaus school in Dessau was only in operation from 1919 until 1923, when it was forced to close by the rising Nazi Party. It later moved to Berlin under the steer of third and final director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, where it occupied a converted factory building.

Today the school operates as a centre for design, research and education, and part of it functions as a hotel. A museum is set open on the campus this year, as the building becomes the centre for the 100 Years Bauhaus festival.

The Bauhaus is the most influential art and design school in history. To mark the centenary of the school's founding, we've created a series of articles exploring the school's key figures and projects."
bauhaus  unlearning  mobile  mobility  nomads  nomadism  learning  education  buses  2019  art  design  vanbole-mentzel  wohnmaschine  berlin  kinshasa  drc  democraticrepublicofthecongo  collective  collectivism  schools  research  architecture  miesvanderrohe 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The Future Is Made In China | MISC
"How Chinese Design and Values Are Driving Global Innovation

Like many other children who grew up in Canada with parents who did not, we felt the light embrace of a distant – yet distinctly present – country and culture. We learned what it was like to grow up in China through the stories of our parents and grandparents. The China our families remembered was one defined by a simple life but also underscored by a lack of basic infrastructure. There were no roads or bridges, they told us. Educated youths were sent to the countryside to pursue farm labor, where they would have the best chance of a secure livelihood.

Despite an awareness that things have changed since our parents were children, we have both found ourselves stuck in China’s past. Even when visiting several times in the last decade, we were always surprised and amazed by the country’s modernity each time we arrived. The advancements in technology and the country’s overall progress since the Open Door policy was introduced 40 years ago is even more startling from our parents’ perspective. Ever since then-leader Deng Xiaoping opened the country’s doors through the introduction of free market principles in 1978, China’s GDP has grown at a pace so rapid that the World Bank described it as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” Even more significant is that with GDP growth averaging 10% per year – three times the global average – an estimated 800 million people have been raised out of poverty.

Conversations within our social circles, as well as observations of China’s representation in Western popular media, have made it apparent to us that most people in North America share our original assumptions about modern life in the country our parents once called home. What they don’t realize is that China has been working tirelessly to catch up.

Watch, Learn, and Do It Better

The narrative that China is a “copycat” of the US, particularly in terms of its products and services, is a popular one in tech circles. In recent decades, however, this idea gained traction across the international community, and the Chinese government and its people decided they no longer wanted to be seen as imitators. They wanted to rid themselves of the misconception of China as “manufacturer to the world” – only executing others’ ideas, never originating new concepts themselves. This was the catalyst for a 2015 initiative known as Made in China 2025.

This initiative identifies 10 industries within which China aims to be globally competitive by 2025, ranging from robotics, to new materials (such as those used in solar cells), to new-energy vehicles. While these goals may sound familiar, particularly to Westerners, Made in China 2025 stands out because it clearly outlines how the country plans to grow in these industries. The project acts as an extremely public blueprint for shifting the nation from an industrial economy to a service-based economy driven by technology and innovation. As a country, China is unified by a holistic approach and a shared vision rooted in innovation and research, enabling the many public and private actors required for change to work toward a common goal. China’s long tradition of direct government intervention in the economy has enabled it to succeed rapidly and on a massive scale.

China’s tech industry continues to expand rapidly, though the recent trade tariffs introduced by President Trump’s administration highlight the unstable dynamic between China and the US. In addition, it appears that there is still a shroud of mystery surrounding China’s advancements as a leader in the global innovation space. In a recent Wired article, Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and current CEO of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, said:

I think from a logical standpoint the time has come to copy from China … but in practice, it’s not. Chinese entrepreneurs know everything about what’s happening in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley people, a few of them know a lot about China; some of them know a little bit about China; most of them know nothing about China.

Rather than dismissing China or perceiving China’s advancement as a threat, it is time to acknowledge that in some areas, the country’s best-in-class technology has become an example to learn from.

Move Fast and Don’t Break Things

China is a blank canvas, largely due to a lack of legacy technology infrastructure combined with a uniquely enclosed innovation model despite substantial foreign investment. For China, following the common adage that spurs many companies in Silicon Valley – “move fast and break things” – would be a rash move with serious consequences. Freedom is a luxury that must be handled delicately, especially considering the sheer size of China’s population and its relatively nonexistent privacy laws. The following companies have managed to find this balance in their respective industries.

Payments: Alipay and WeChat Pay

At the forefront of the payments space are Alipay, operated by Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, developed by Tencent. With Alibaba and Tencent both making the 2018 Top 10 Risers list in Kantar and WPP’s 2018 “BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands” report, the meteoric rise of mobile payments led by these two companies is proof of China’s remarkable ability to scale. The technology for quick response (QR) codes was originally developed in Japan in 1994 for the automotive industry and was later adapted by Alipay for use with mobile payments. China’s vast market and lack of credit and debit card use has expedited the expansion of mobile payments across the country. This, coupled with the centralized nature of Alibaba’s and Tencent’s ecosystems, quickly proliferated Alipay and WeChat Pay through ecommerce and social media, respectively. This meant that brick-and-mortar stores, from massive chains to the neighborhood food stall, had to follow suit or be left behind. And follow suit they did: Data from iResearch Consulting Group shows that mobile payments in China grew from 1.2 trillion yuan ($187B) in 2013 to 58.8 trillion yuan in 2016. In 2018, QR code settlements are expected to reach 165.9 trillion yuan: more than 90 times the size of the US mobile payments market, as reported by Forrester Research.

According to an article from Knowledge@Wharton, published by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, over the past three years Alipay and WeChat Pay have enabled 98.3% of Chinese consumers – including those in rural areas – to shift directly from cash to smartphone. By contrast, only 5.6% of the surveyed population in the US have used mobile payments. Looking ahead, Alibaba and Tencent are hoping to take their expertise in QR technology and go-to-market strategy to begin scaling in developing countries where consumers have less access to credit cards and other traditional banking services. If innovation is the process of turning ideas into outcomes, China’s nearly cashless transaction model has definitively allowed it to emerge as an innovation economy.

Online-Offline Integration: Hema Fresh

As ecommerce continues to boom and brick-and-mortar retailers find themselves coming up against rising land and labor costs, the question of how to blend digital and physical commerce becomes increasingly important. Many believe that the ideal state for bringing these two worlds together will come in the form of an integrated process that provides consumers with a seamlessly engaging experience while enabling companies to optimize both digital and physical operations. This future seemed elusive until recently.

For most, an important shift occurred when Amazon announced its purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 and opened its first Amazon Go location in January of 2018. Unbeknownst to many, however, Alibaba was three years ahead of its North American competitor, debuting its first attempt at “new retail” in 2015 in the form of Hema Fresh. For a first attempt, Hema Fresh is impressive. By connecting product barcodes with a mobile app, Hema Fresh allows consumers to research products during their in-store shopping experience. Shoppers can trace a product’s origin, delivery, and nutritional information, and the app also recommends recipes and other relevant products. The data taken from these cashless transactions enables further personalization of the user’s recommendations. The physical aspect includes an eat-as-you-shop option, where shoppers can hand-pick fresh seafood and have it cooked on-site. The food is soon ready for shoppers to eat in Hema’s dining area. Facial recognition is also used at checkout. Meanwhile, Hema stores act as fulfillment centers for online shoppers, who can have their orders delivered within 30 minutes of placement.

There are now 25 Hema stores across China, and Alibaba has plans to more than double the store’s presence in 2018. In a press release for Alibaba, Hou Yi, CEO of Hema, said that he hopes that “as [the] model becomes more established, it can be shared with other traditional retailers to help them transform in the digital age.”

Mobility: Didi Chuxing

Migration from rural areas in China has led to the ongoing expansion of urban populations over the past few decades, causing urban development to grow at breakneck speeds. Sprawling expressways and superblocks congested with cars now connect cities across the country. Didi Chuxing (“DiDi”), the world’s largest ride-sharing service, was founded with this simple frustration in mind. DiDi aims to “redefine the future of mobility” by leveraging big data and machine learning to help solve this problem, which is characteristic of many Chinese cities. While Uber and Lyft dominate ride-sharing in the US, the sheer scale and size of DiDi sets it apart. According to recent articles from Reuters and Wired, the service has 550 million users in over 400 cities in China, delivering… [more]
samanthalew  ronniepang  china  legacy  infrastructure  change  leapfrogging  2018  technology  design  didichuxing  mobile  phones  smartphones  alibaba  legacysystems  ecommerce  mobilepayments  wechat 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids - The New York Times
[This is one of three connected articles:]

"Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids
Child care contracts now demand that nannies hide phones, tablets, computers and TVs from their charges."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/silicon-valley-nannies.html

"The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected
America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/digital-divide-screens-schools.html

"A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley
“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones.”"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/phones-children-silicon-valley.html

[See also:
"What the Times got wrong about kids and phones"
https://www.cjr.org/criticism/times-silicon-valley-kids.php

https://twitter.com/edifiedlistener/status/1058438953299333120
"Now that I've had a chance to read this article [specifically: "The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected"] and some others related to children and screen time and the wealthy and the poor, I have some thoughts. 1/

First, this article on the unexpected digital divide between rich and poor seems entirely incomplete. There is an early reference to racial differences in screen usage but in the article there are no voices of black or brown folks that I could detect. 2/

We are told a number of things: Wealthy parents are shunning screens in their children's lives, psychologists underscore the addictive nature of screen time on kids, and of course, whatever the short end of the stick is - poor kids get that. 3/

We hear "It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens," while wealthy kids will perhaps enjoy "wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction." 4/

Think about that and think about the stories that have long been told about poor families, about single parents, about poor parents of color - They aren't as involved in their kids' education, they are too busy working. Familiar stereotypes. 5/

Many of these judgments often don't hold up under scrutiny. So much depends upon who gets to tell those stories and how those stories are marketed, sold and reproduced. 6/

In this particular story about the privilege of being able to withdraw from or reduce screen time, we get to fall back into familiar narratives especially about the poor and non-elite. 7/

Of course those with less will be told after a time by those with much more - "You're doing it wrong." And "My child will be distinguished by the fact that he/she/they is not dependent on a device for entertainment or diversion." 8/

My point is not that I doubt the risks and challenges of excessive screen time for kids and adults. Our dependence on tech *is* a huge social experiment and the outcomes are looking scarier by the day. 9/

I do, however, resist the consistent need of the wealthy elite to seek ways to maintain their distance to the mainstream. To be the ones who tell us what's "hot, or not" - 10/

Chris Anderson points out "“The digital divide was about access to technology, and now that everyone has access, the new digital divide is limiting access to technology,” - 11/

This article and its recent close cousins about spying nannies in SV & more elite parent hand wringing over screen in the NYT feel like their own category of expensive PR work - again allowing SV to set the tone. 12/

It's not really about screens or damage to children's imaginations - it's about maintaining divides, about insuring that we know what the rich do (and must be correct) vs what the rest of us must manage (sad, bad). 13/fin]
siliconvalley  edtech  children  technology  parenting  2018  nelliebowles  addiction  psychology  hypocrisy  digitaldivide  income  inequality  ipads  smartphones  screentime  schools  education  politics  policy  rules  childcare  policing  surveillance  tracking  computers  television  tv  tablets  phones  mobile  teaching  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  anyakamenetz  sherrispelic  ipad 
october 2018 by robertogreco
John McWhorter: How Texting ‘LOL’ Changed Communication - The Atlantic
[on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA6V_th9rQw ]

"“Today, communication is much more fluid, much more varied, much subtler—it's better,” says John McWhorter, professor of linguistics at Columbia University, author, and frequent contributor to The Atlantic, in a new video from the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival. A big reason for this advancement in communication is, McWorther argues, the advent of texting—and even more specifically, the proliferation of the acronym “LOL.”

In the video, McWorther explains how LOL “ended up creeping in and replacing involuntary laughter,” and what meant for the new era of informal, nuanced communication. “It used to be that if you were going to write in any real way beyond the personal letter, there were all these rules you were afraid you were breaking—and you probably were,” he says. “It wasn't a comfortable form. You can write comfortably now.”"
johnmcwhorter  texting  texts  lol  2018  communication  language  linguistics  mobile  phones  change  flirting  fluidity  informal  informality  comfort  nuance  optimism 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Blloc | Back to the root
Blloc is a plain and minimalistic smartphone combining a power saving operating system with efficient hardware and an easy to use messaging platform, it’s built to be the perfect communication and productivity tool that you can rely on every day."



"Regain control of your smartphone. Blloc allows you to focus on your contacts and meaningful interactions. With more effortless and fluid exchange of information, there is more space for your productivity.

The lost, forgotten and scattered information is now gathered in one place, a simple timeline which facilitates speedy and effective conversations, while Blloc anticipates your needs through learning."
android  mobile  phones  hardware  blloc  smartphones 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon on Twitter: "I think a lot about how the phone call — hearing the sound of a real human voice — is becoming a more intimate, meaningful option in the face of 24/7 text/image connection… https://t.co/dDx24gJ62v"
"I think a lot about how the phone call — hearing the sound of a real human voice — is becoming a more intimate, meaningful option in the face of 24/7 text/image connection

There’s a really interesting part of @dada_drummer’s THE NEW ANALOG, where he talks about how different phone calls became when they went digital — background noise was reduced, and so the sense of distance https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1620971976/

He points out that the iPhone has 3 microphones, but they're not used to capture extra sound, they're for noise-cancelling — they're used to isolate signal from noise [image]

On the iPhone, “*what* is being said is very clear — but *how* the message is delivered is lost. Is the voice loud or soft? Are we being addressed intimately or publicly? Can we hear hints of other meanings in the speaker’s voice, or does the delivery match the words exactly?”

There’s a “cell yell” that @dada_drummer points out: when we're out in the world on the phone, we tend towards shouting — even though we can be clearly heard in a noisy environ thanks to noise cancellation — b/c the phone doesn't feed our voice back to us, so we can’t regulate it

"essay idea: how the rise of podcasts corresponds to the decline of (personal) phone calls for millennials"
[https://twitter.com/popespeed/status/971940280709603328 ]

This is an interesting point. When I do podcast interviews, I have an extremely good USB mic and headphones to monitor my voice, so I can move closer to the mic, speak softer,

Maybe people like podcasts so much because they replicate more of what a real world or analog telephone conversation sounds like? Something to ponder!

Oh, I’m reminded now: @cordjefferson told a beautiful story at @PopUpMag about a voicemail message his mother left him, and how it changed the way he thought about phone calls. (I don’t think it exists online, or I’d link to it.)"
austinkleon  audio  microphones  mobile  phones  telephones  intimacy  voice  sound  recording  noise  noisecancellation  analog  conversation  phonecalls  humans  connection  2018  digital  iphone  podcasts 
april 2018 by robertogreco
The Tyranny of Convenience - The New York Times
"Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable. Once you have used a washing machine, laundering clothes by hand seems irrational, even if it might be cheaper. After you have experienced streaming television, waiting to see a show at a prescribed hour seems silly, even a little undignified. To resist convenience — not to own a cellphone, not to use Google — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.

For all its influence as a shaper of individual decisions, the greater power of convenience may arise from decisions made in aggregate, where it is doing so much to structure the modern economy. Particularly in tech-related industries, the battle for convenience is the battle for industry dominance.

Americans say they prize competition, a proliferation of choices, the little guy. Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.

Given the growth of convenience — as an ideal, as a value, as a way of life — it is worth asking what our fixation with it is doing to us and to our country. I don’t want to suggest that convenience is a force for evil. Making things easier isn’t wicked. On the contrary, it often opens up possibilities that once seemed too onerous to contemplate, and it typically makes life less arduous, especially for those most vulnerable to life’s drudgeries.

But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much."



"By the late 1960s, the first convenience revolution had begun to sputter. The prospect of total convenience no longer seemed like society’s greatest aspiration. Convenience meant conformity. The counterculture was about people’s need to express themselves, to fulfill their individual potential, to live in harmony with nature rather than constantly seeking to overcome its nuisances. Playing the guitar was not convenient. Neither was growing one’s own vegetables or fixing one’s own motorcycle. But such things were seen to have value nevertheless — or rather, as a result. People were looking for individuality again.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that the second wave of convenience technologies — the period we are living in — would co-opt this ideal. It would conveniencize individuality.

You might date the beginning of this period to the advent of the Sony Walkman in 1979. With the Walkman we can see a subtle but fundamental shift in the ideology of convenience. If the first convenience revolution promised to make life and work easier for you, the second promised to make it easier to be you. The new technologies were catalysts of selfhood. They conferred efficiency on self-expression."



"I do not want to deny that making things easier can serve us in important ways, giving us many choices (of restaurants, taxi services, open-source encyclopedias) where we used to have only a few or none. But being a person is only partly about having and exercising choices. It is also about how we face up to situations that are thrust upon us, about overcoming worthy challenges and finishing difficult tasks — the struggles that help make us who we are. What happens to human experience when so many obstacles and impediments and requirements and preparations have been removed?

Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides.

Convenience has to serve something greater than itself, lest it lead only to more convenience. In her 1963 classic, “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan looked at what household technologies had done for women and concluded that they had just created more demands. “Even with all the new labor-saving appliances,” she wrote, “the modern American housewife probably spends more time on housework than her grandmother.” When things become easier, we can seek to fill our time with more “easy” tasks. At some point, life’s defining struggle becomes the tyranny of tiny chores and petty decisions.

An unwelcome consequence of living in a world where everything is “easy” is that the only skill that matters is the ability to multitask. At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life.

We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.

Embracing inconvenience may sound odd, but we already do it without thinking of it as such. As if to mask the issue, we give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies — as in carving wood, melding raw ingredients, fixing a broken appliance, writing code, timing waves or facing the point when the runner’s legs and lungs begin to rebel against him.

Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it.

So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity."
timwu  convenience  efficiency  psychology  business  2018  inconvenience  effort  technology  economics  work  labor  conformity  value  meaning  selfhood  self-expression  change  individuality  slow  slowness  customization  individualization  amazon  facebook  apple  multitasking  experience  human  humanness  passions  hobbies  resistance  struggle  choice  skill  mobile  phones  internet  streaming  applemusic  itunes 
february 2018 by robertogreco
BBC Blogs - Academy - How to improve your mojo skills by sacrificing a latte
"A journalist using only the pre-installed apps on their smartphone is like someone driving a Ferrari in first gear. At the risk of stretching the metaphor to breaking point, you can get your phone purring along in fifth with the addition of just a few well-chosen apps. But you’ll have to buy them – yes, by spending actual money.

Before I highlight some of my personal favourites and explain how they could improve your mojo (mobile journalism) output, here’s a quick question: how often do you buy a coffee during the day? Perhaps once on the way to work to get yourself going and again later to counter that mid-afternoon slump? Anecdotally from my face-to-face training for the BBC Academy, many people don't think twice about spending £3 for a triple decaf caramel dry latte (extra nutmeg) once or twice a day.

Yet ask those same people when they last spent a comparable sum on an app to soup up their smartphones and I find that it’s rarely within the last month. More often it is "never".

But if the money on just one coffee a week went instead towards an app, within a few months that smartphone would have acquired new powers (and you might even have lost a few pounds from your waistline).

The apps I’m writing about here are established favourites within the growing global mojo community - that is, producers and reporters who cover news stories and create related content using just their smartphones plus a few gadgets and gizmos like a tripod, a lens, a microphone and a spare battery.

You can also find an entire level of high end apps which stray more into cinematography than video for news and journalism, but I won't be dealing with those here."
smartphones  phones  mobile  journalism  reporting  applications  ios  iphone  video  audio  howto  tutorials  cinematography  editing  onlinetoolkit 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Peripetatic Humanities - YouTube
"A lecture about Mark Sample's "Notes Toward a Deformed Humanities," featuring ideas by Lisa Rhody, Matt Kirchenbaum, Steve Ramsay, Barthes, Foucault, Bahktin, Brian Croxall, Dene Grigar, Roger Whitson, Adeline Koh, Natalia Cecire, and Ian Bogost & the Oulipo, a band opening for The Carpenters."
kathiinmanberens  performance  humanities  deformity  marksample  lisarhody  mattkirchenbaum  steveramsay  foucault  briancroxall  denegrigar  rogerwhitson  adelinekoh  ianbogost  oulipo  deformance  humptydumpty  repair  mikhailbakhtin  linearity  alinear  procedure  books  defamiliarization  reading  howweread  machines  machinereading  technology  michelfoucault  rolandbarthes  nataliacecire  disruption  digitalhumanities  socialmedia  mobile  phones  making  computation  computing  hacking  nonlinear 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power by Byung-Chul Han – review | Books | The Guardian
"The new surveillance society that has arisen since 1984, argues Han, works differently yet is more elegantly totalitarian and oppressive than anything described by Orwell or Jeremy Bentham. “Confession obtained by force has been replaced by voluntary disclosure,” he writes. “Smartphones have been substituted for torture chambers.” Well, not quite. Torture chambers still exist, it’s just that we in the neoliberal west have outsourced them (thanks, rendition flights) so that that obscenity called polite society can pretend they don’t exist.

Nonetheless, what capitalism realised in the neoliberal era, Han argues, is that it didn’t need to be tough, but seductive. This is what he calls smartpolitics. Instead of saying no, it says yes: instead of denying us with commandments, discipline and shortages, it seems to allow us to buy what we want when we want, become what we want and realise our dream of freedom. “Instead of forbidding and depriving it works through pleasing and fulfilling. Instead of making people compliant, it seeks to make them dependent.”

Your smartphone, for Han, is crucial in this respect, the multifunctional tool of our auto-exploitation. We are all Big Brother now. It is in part Catholicism with better technology, a modern rosary that is handheld confessional and effective surveillance apparatus in one. “Both the rosary and the smartphone serve the purpose of self-monitoring and control,” he explains. “Power operates more effectively when it delegates surveillance to discrete individuals.” And we queue overnight to get the latest model: we desire our own domination. No wonder the motto for Han’s book is US video artist Jenny Holzer’s slogan: “Protect me from what I want.”

Han considers that the old form of oppressive capitalism that found its personification in Big Brother has found its most resonant expression in Bentham’s notion of a panopticon, whereby all inmates of an institution could be observed by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they were being watched. Bentham’s invention in turn catalysed French theorist Michel Foucault’s reflections on the disciplinary, punishing power that arose with industrial capitalism, leading him to coin the term biopolitics. Because the body was the central force in industrial production, Han argues, then a politics of disciplining, punishing and perfecting the body was understandably central to Foucault’s notion of how power worked.

But in the west’s deindustrialised, neoliberal era, such biopolitics is obsolete. Instead, by means of deploying “big data”, neoliberalism has tapped into the psychic realm and exploited it, with the result that, as Han colourfully puts it, “individuals degrade into the genital organs of capital”. Consider that the next time you’re reviewing your Argos purchase, streaming porn or retweeting Paul Mason. Instead of watching over human behaviour, big data’s digital panopticon subjects it to psychopolitical steering."



"At least in Nineteen Eighty-Four, nobody felt free. In 2017, for Han, everybody feels free, which is the problem. “Of our own free will, we put any and all conceivable information about ourselves on the internet, without having the slightest idea who knows what, when or in what occasion. This lack of control represents a crisis of freedom to be taken seriously.”"



"No matter. How might we resist psychopolitics? In this respect, Han cuts an intriguing figure. He rarely makes public appearances or gives interviews (and when he does he requires journalists turn off their recorders ), his Facebook page seems to have been set up by Spanish admirers, and only recently did he set up an email address which he scarcely uses. He isn’t ungooglable nor yet off the grid, but rather professor at Berlin’s University of the Arts and has written 16 mostly lovely, slender volumes of elegant cultural critique (I particularly recommend The Burnout Society, The Scent of Time, Saving Beauty and The Expulsion of the Other – all available in English) and is often heralded, along with Markus Gabriel and Richard David Precht, as a wunderkind of a newly resurgent and unprecedentedly readable German philosophy.

For all that, and I mean this as a compliment, Byung-Chul Han is an idiot. He writes: “Thoroughgoing digital networking and communication have massively amplified the compulsion to conform. The attendant violence of consensus is suppressing idiotisms.”

Indeed, the book’s last chapter is called “Idiotism”, and traces philosophy’s rich history of counter-cultural idiocy. Socrates knew only one thing, namely that he knew nothing. Descartes doubted everything in his “I think therefore I am”. Han seeks to reclaim this idiotic tradition. In an age of compulsory self-expression, he cultivates the twin heresies of secrets and silence.

Perhaps similarly, for our own well being, in our age of overspeak and underthink, we should learn the virtue of shutting up."
capitalism  latecapitalism  technology  politics  2017  biopolitics  byung-chulhan  stuartjeffries  1984  freedom  control  data  mobile  phones  facebook  twitter  conformity  conformism  amazon  internet  web  online  markusgabriel  richarddavidprecht  philosophy  idiocy  overspeak  underthink  thinking  communication  neoliberalism  foucault  power  smartphones  bigbrother  catholicsm  jennyholzer  desire  michelfoucault 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How the Appetite for Emojis Complicates the Effort to Standardize the World’s Alphabets - The New York Times
"nshuman Pandey was intrigued. A graduate student in history at the University of Michigan, he was searching online for forgotten alphabets of South Asia when an image of a mysterious writing system popped up. In eight years of digging through British colonial archives both real and digital, he has found almost 200 alphabets across Asia that were previously undescribed in the West, but this one, which he came across in early 2011, stumped him. Its sinuous letters, connected to one another in cursive fashion and sometimes bearing dots and slashes above or below, resembled those of Arabic.

Pandey eventually identified the script as an alphabet for Rohingya, the language spoken by the stateless and persecuted Muslim people whose greatest numbers live in western Myanmar, where they’ve been the victims of brutal ethnic cleansing. Pandey wasn’t sure if the alphabet itself was in use anymore, until he lucked upon contemporary pictures of printed textbooks for children. That meant it wasn’t a historical footnote; it was alive.

An email query from Pandey bounced from expert to expert until it landed with Muhammad Noor, a Rohingya activist and television host who was living in Malaysia. He told Pandey the short history of this alphabet, which was developed in the 1980s by a group of scholars that included a man named Mohammed Hanif. It spread slowly through the 1990s in handwritten, photocopied books. After 2001, thanks to two computer fonts designed by Noor, it became possible to type the script in word-processing programs. But no email, text messages or (later) tweets could be sent or received in it, no Google searches conducted in it. The Rohingya had no digital alphabet of their own through which they could connect with one another.

Billions of people around the world no longer face this plight. Whether on computers or smartphones, they can write as they write, expressing themselves in their own linguistic culture. What makes this possible is a 26-year-old international industrial standard for text data called the Unicode standard, which prescribes the digital letters, numbers and punctuation marks of more than 100 different writing systems: Greek, Cherokee, Arabic, Latin, Devanagari — a world-spanning storehouse of languages. But the alphabet that Noor described wasn’t among them, and neither are more than 100 other scripts, just over half of them historical and the rest alphabets that could still be used by as many as 400 million people today.

Now a computational linguist and motivated by a desire to put his historical knowledge to use, Pandey knows how to get obscure alphabets into the Unicode standard. Since 2005, he has done so for 19 writing systems (and he’s currently working to add another eight). With Noor’s help, and some financial support from a research center at the University of California, Berkeley, he drew up the basic set of letters and defined how they combine, what rules govern punctuation and whether spaces exist between words, then submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the organization that maintains the standards for digital scripts. In 2018, seven years after Pandey’s discovery, what came to be called Hanifi Rohingya will be rolled out in Unicode’s 11th version. The Rohingya will be able to communicate online with one another, using their own alphabet."



"Unicode’s history is full of attacks by governments, activists and eccentrics. In the early 1990s, the Chinese government objected to the encoding of Tibetan. About five years ago, Hungarian nationalists tried to sabotage the encoding for Old Hungarian because they wanted it to be called “Szekley-Hungarian Rovas” instead. An encoding for an alphabet used to write Nepal Bhasa and Sanskrit was delayed a few years ago by ethnonationalists who mistrusted the proposal because they objected to the author’s surname. Over and over, the Unicode Consortium has protected its standard from such political attacks.

The standard’s effectiveness helped. “If standards work, they’re invisible and can be ignored by the public,” Busch says. Twenty years after its first version, Unicode had become the default text-data standard, adopted by device manufacturers and software companies all over the world. Each version of the standard ushered more users into a seamless digital world of text. “We used to ask ourselves, ‘How many years do you think the consortium will need to be in place before we can publish the last version?’ ” Whistler recalls. The end was finally in sight — at one point the consortium had barely more than 50 writing systems to add.

All that changed in October 2010, when that year’s version of the Unicode standard included its first set of emojis."



"Not everyone thinks that Unicode should be in the emoji business at all. I met several people at Emojicon promoting apps that treat emojis like pictures, not text, and I heard an idea floated for a separate standards body for emojis run by people with nontechnical backgrounds. “Normal people can have an opinion about why there isn’t a cupcake emoji,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, an entrepreneur and a film producer whose advocacy on behalf of a dumpling emoji inspired her to organize Emojicon. The issue isn’t space — Unicode has about 800,000 unused numerical identifiers — but about whose expertise and worldview shapes the standard and prioritizes its projects.

“Emoji has had a tendency to subtract attention from the other important things the consortium needs to be working on,” Ken Whistler says. He believes that Unicode was right to take responsibility for emoji, because it has the technical expertise to deal with character chaos (and has dealt with it before). But emoji is an unwanted distraction. “We can spend hours arguing for an emoji for chopsticks, and then have nobody in the room pay any attention to details for what’s required for Nepal, which the people in Nepal use to write their language. That’s my main concern: emoji eats the attention span both in the committee and for key people with other responsibilities.”

Emoji has nonetheless provided a boost to Unicode. Companies frequently used to implement partial versions of the standard, but the spread of emoji now forces them to adopt more complete versions of it. As a result, smartphones that can manage emoji will be more likely to have Hanifi Rohingya on them too. The stream of proposals also makes the standard seem alive, attracting new volunteers to Unicode’s mission. It’s not unusual for people who come to the organization through an interest in emoji to end up embracing its priorities. “Working on characters used in a small province of China, even if it’s 20,000 people who are going to use it, that’s a more important use of their time than deliberating over whether the hand of my yoga emoji is in the right position,” Mark Bramhill told me.

Since its creation was announced in 2015, the “Adopt a Character” program, through which individuals and organizations can sponsor any characters, including emojis, has raised more than $200,000. A percentage of the proceeds goes to support the Script Encoding Initiative, a research project based at Berkeley, which is headed by the linguistics researcher Deborah Anderson, who is devoted to making Unicode truly universal. One the consortium recently accepted is called Nyiakeng Puachue Hmong, devised for the Hmong language by a minister in California whose parishioners have been using it for more than 25 years. Still in the proposal stage is Tigalari, once used to write Sanskrit and other Indian languages.

One way to read the story of Unicode in the time of emoji is to see a privileged generation of tech consumers confronting the fact that they can’t communicate in ways they want to on their devices: through emoji. They get involved in standards-making, which yields them some satisfaction but slows down the speed with which millions of others around the world get access to the most basic of online linguistic powers. “There are always winners and losers in standards,” Lawrence Busch says. “You might want to say, ultimately we’d like everyone to win and nobody to lose too much, but we’re stuck with the fact that we have to make decisions, and when we make them, those decisions are going to be less acceptable to some than to others.”"
unicode  language  languages  internet  international  standards  emoji  2017  priorities  web  online  anshumanpandey  rohingya  arabic  markbramhill  hmong  tigalari  nyiakengpuachuehmong  muhammadnoor  mohammedhanif  kenwhistler  history  1980  2011  1990s  1980s  mobile  phones  google  apple  ascii  facebook  emojicon  michaelaerard  technology  communication  tibet 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Why cards are the future of the web - Inside Intercom
"Cards are fast becoming the best design pattern for mobile devices."



"In addition to their reputable past as an information medium, the most important thing about cards is that they are almost infinitely manipulatable. See the simple example above from Samuel Couto Think about cards in the physical world. They can be turned over to reveal more, folded for a summary and expanded for more details, stacked to save space, sorted, grouped, and spread out to survey more than one.

When designing for screens, we can take advantage of all these things. In addition, we can take advantage of animation and movement. We can hint at what is on the reverse, or that the card can be folded out. We can embed multimedia content, photos, videos, music. There are so many new things to invent here.

Cards are perfect for mobile devices and varying screen sizes. Remember, mobile devices are the heart and soul of the future of your business, no matter who you are and what you do. On mobile devices, cards can be stacked vertically, like an activity stream on a phone. They can be stacked horizontally, adding a column as a tablet is turned 90 degrees. They can be a fixed or variable height.

Cards are the new creative canvas

It’s already clear that product and interaction designers will heavily use cards. I think the same is true for marketers and creatives in advertising. As social media continues to rise, and continues to fragment into many services, taking up more and more of our time, marketing dollars will inevitably follow. The consistent thread through these services, the predominant canvas for creativity, will be card based. Content consumption on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Line, you name it, is all built on the card design metaphor.

I think there is no getting away from it. Cards are the next big thing in design and the creative arts. To me that’s incredibly exciting."
cards  web  webdesign  webdev  userinterface  ux  userexperience  ui  design  mobile  pauladams 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Towards an Internet of Living Things – OpenExplorer Journal – Medium
"Conservation groups are using technology to understand and protect our planet in an entirely new way."

"The Internet of Things (IoT) was an idea that industry always loved. It was simple enough to predict: as computing and sensors become smaller and cheaper, they would be embedded into devices and products that interact with each other and their owners. Fast forward to 2017 and the IoT is in full bloom. Because of the stakes — that every device and machine in your life will be upgraded and harvested for data — companies wasted no time getting in on the action. There are smart thermostats, refrigerators, TVs, cars, and everything else you can imagine.

Industry was first, but they aren’t the only. Now conservationists are taking the lead.

The same chips, sensors (especially cameras) and networks being used to wire up our homes and factories are being deployed by scientists (both professional and amateur) to understand our natural world. It’s an Internet of Living Things. It isn’t just a future of efficiency and convenience. It’s enabling us to ask different questions and understand our world from an entirely new perspective. And just in time. As environmental challenges — everything from coral bleaching to African elephant poaching— continue to mount, this emerging network will serve as the planetary nervous system, giving insight into precisely what actions to take.

It’s a new era of conservation based on real-time data and monitoring. It changes our ecological relationship with the planet by changing the scales at which we can measure — we get both increased granularity, as well as adding a truly macro view of the entire planet. It also allows us to simultaneously (and unbiasedly) measuring the most important part of the equation: ourselves.

Specific and Real-Time

We have had population estimates of species for decades, but things are different now. Before the estimates came from academic fieldwork, and now we’re beginning to rely on vast networks of sensors to monitor and model those same populations in real-time. Take the recent example of Paul Allen’s Domain Awareness System (DAS) that covers broad swaths of West Africa. Here’s an excerpt from the Bloomberg feature:
For years, local rangers have protected wildlife with boots on the ground and sheer determination. Armed guards spend days and nights surrounding elephant herds and horned rhinos, while on the lookout for rogue trespassers.

Allen’s DAS uses technology to go the distance that humans cannot. It relies on three funnels of information: ranger radios, animal tracker tags, and a variety of environmental sensors such as camera traps and satellites. This being the product of the world’s 10th-richest software developer, it sends everything back to a centralized computer system, which projects specific threats onto a map of the monitored region, displayed on large screens in a closed circuit-like security room.

For instance, if a poacher were to break through a geofence sensor set up by a ranger in a highly-trafficked corridor, an icon of a rifle would flag the threat as well as any micro-chipped elephants and radio-carrying rangers in the vicinity.

[video]

These networks are being woven together in ecosystems all over the planet. Old cellphones being turned into rainforest monitoring devices. Drones surveying and processing the health of Koala populations in Australia. The conservation website MongaBay now has a section of their site dedicated to the fast-moving field, which they’ve dubbed WildTech. Professionals and amateurs are gathering in person at events like Make for the Planet and in online communities like Wildlabs.net. It’s game on.

The trend is building momentum because the early results have been so good, especially in terms of resolution. The organization WildMe is using a combination of citizen science (essentially human-powered environmental sensors) and artificial intelligence to identify and monitor individuals in wild populations. As in, meet Struddle the manta ray, number 1264_B201. He’s been sited ten times over the course of 10 years, mostly around the Maldives.

[image]

The combination of precision and pervasiveness means these are more than just passive data-collecting systems. They’re beyond academic, they’re actionable. We can estimate more accurately — there are 352,271 elephants estimated to remain in Africa — but we’re also reacting when something happens — a poacher broke a geofence 10 minutes ago.

The Big Picture

It’s not just finer detail, either. We’re also getting a better bigger picture than we’ve ever had before. We’re watching on a planetary scale.

Of course, advances in satellites are helping. Planet (the company) has been a major driving force. Over the past few years they’ve launched hundreds of small imaging satellites and have created an earth-imaging constellation that has ambitions of getting an image of every location on earth, every day. Like Google Earth, but near-real-time and the ability to search along the time horizon. An example of this in action, Planet was able to catch an illegal gold mining operation in the act in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.

[image]

It’s not just satellites, it’s connectivity more broadly. Traditionally analog wildlife monitoring is going online. Ornithology gives us a good example of this. For the past century, the study of birds have relied on amateur networks of enthusiasts — the birders — to contribute data on migration and occurrence studies. (For research that spans long temporal time spans or broad geographic areas, citizen science is often the most effective method.) Now, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile phones, birding is digitized and centralized on platforms like eBird and iNaturalist. You can watch the real-time submissions and observations:

[image]

Sped up, we get the visual of species-specific migrations over the course of a year:

[animated GIF]

Human Activity

The network we’re building isn’t all glass, plastic and silicon. It’s people, too. In the case of the birders above, the human component is critical. They’re doing the legwork, getting into the field and pointing the cameras. They’re both the braun and the (collective) brain of the operation.

Keeping humans in the loop has it’s benefits. It’s allowing these networks to scale faster. Birders with smartphones and eBird can happen now, whereas a network of passive forest listening devices would take years to build (and would be much more expensive to maintain). It also makes these systems better adept at managing ethical and privacy concerns — people are involved in the decision making at all times. But the biggest benefit of keeping people in the loop, is that we can watch them—the humans—too. Because as much as we’re learning about species and ecosystems, we also need to understand how we ourselves are affected by engaging and perceiving the natural world.

We’re getting more precise measurements of species and ecosystems (a better small picture), as well as a better idea of how they’re all linked together (a better big picture). But we’re also getting an accurate sense of ourselves and our impact on and within these systems (a better whole picture).

We’re still at the beginning of measuring the human-nature boundary, but the early results suggests it will help the conservation agenda. A sub-genre of neuroscience called neurobiophilia has emerged to study the effects on nature on our brain function. (Hint: it’s great for your health and well-being.) National Geographic is sending some of their explorers into the field wired up with Fitbits and EEG machines. The emerging academic field of citizen science seems to be equally concerned with the effects of participation than it is with outcomes. So far, the science is indicating that engagement in the data collecting process has measurable effects on the community’s ability to manage different issues. The lesson here: not only is nature good for us, but we can evolve towards a healthier perspective. In a world approaching 9 billion people, this collective self-awareness will be critical.

What’s next

Just as fast as we’re building this network, we’re learning what it’s actually capable of doing. As we’re still laying out the foundation, the network is starting to come alive. The next chapter is applying machine learning to help make sense of the mountains of data that these systems are producing. Want to quickly survey the dispersion of arctic ponds? Here. Want to count and classify the number of fish you’re seeing with your underwater drone? We’re building that. In a broad sense, we’re “closing the loop” as Chris Anderson explained in an Edge.org interview:
If we could measure the world, how would we manage it differently? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves in the digital realm since the birth of the Internet. Our digital lives — clicks, histories, and cookies — can now be measured beautifully. The feedback loop is complete; it’s called closing the loop. As you know, we can only manage what we can measure. We’re now measuring on-screen activity beautifully, but most of the world is not on screens.

As we get better and better at measuring the world — wearables, Internet of Things, cars, satellites, drones, sensors — we are going to be able to close the loop in industry, agriculture, and the environment. We’re going to start to find out what the consequences of our actions are and, presumably, we’ll take smarter actions as a result. This journey with the Internet that we started more than twenty years ago is now extending to the physical world. Every industry is going to have to ask the same questions: What do we want to measure? What do we do with that data? How can we manage things differently once we have that data? This notion of closing the loop everywhere is perhaps the biggest endeavor of … [more]
davidlang  internetofthings  nature  life  conservation  tracking  2017  data  maps  mapping  sensors  realtime  iot  computing  erth  systems  wildlife  australia  africa  maldives  geofencing  perú  birds  ornithology  birding  migration  geography  inaturalist  ebird  mobile  phones  crowdsourcing  citizenscience  science  classideas  biology 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Uni Project
"The Uni Project is a nonprofit that brings learning opportunities to public space in New York City. Using custom-designed installations, we pop up in parks, plazas, and other public spaces to offer reading, drawing, and hands-on activities that let New Yorkers embrace the act of learning. We partner with community organizations and city agencies, and we prioritize underserved locations."

[via: https://twitter.com/findtheuni/status/886749020684791808 ]
nyc  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject  making  creativity  pop-ups  learning  nonprofit  mobile  portable  classideas  schooldesign  workinpublic  nonprofits 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Sonnet: World's Most Advanced Off-Grid Communication Device by Sonnet — Kickstarter
"Send text messages, voice recordings, images, and GPS locations on your phone without cellular coverage, satellite, or Internet access."
meshnetworks  outdoors  communication  hardware  via:clivethompson  mobile  decentralization 
july 2017 by robertogreco
NOMAD
"Inquiry-Based Mobile Education

NOMAD is a mobile middle school where students drive their own learning using the resources of cities in which they live. Students work with community members and experts, engage in local issues, and explore the spaces of the Bay Area. Our converted school bus classroom is our mobile learning lab. The Depot, our home base, maker lab, and community hub.

NOMAD is centered around meaningful, inquiry-based experiences curated to provide a cross-curricular academic program in collaboration with students through thematic arcs. Each arc is comprised of phases of learning that correspond to the exploration of the topic from a variety of angles, the proposal of individual or small-group projects, and the completion and presentation of those projects to the NOMAD community. NOMAD's arc topics will vary by semester and emphasize real tools, working with real experts, and saying yes to as many ideas as possible."



"THE BUS(ES)

The NOMAD school bus is the cornerstone of the NOMAD learning experience. This mobile classroom will function as the learning lab for students as we take advantage of full mobility, driving ourselves where inquiry and exploration take us.

We just completed an Indiegogo campaign and successfully raised funds for our first bus!! We aimed to raise $25k to buy and retrofit an old school bus and are extatic to report we've already purchased a bus - the banner picture is our actual bus. Check out our campaign at https://igg.me/at/NOMAD-Education to see how it went!

The end vision for NOMAD is a fleet of buses segregated by subject matter. Each bus will have an allocated Guide (educator) who specializes in a specific set of core skills. At full enrollment, NOMAD will have 3 buses/cohorts:

1. Humanities - this bus will focus on English language arts, history, and social studies.
2. STEM - this bus will focus on science, technology, engineering and math.
3. Arts and Making - this bus will focus on written, visual, sound, music, mixed media and theatrical arts as well as building, prototyping and making.

Students will explore thematic arc topics on each of the buses throughout the week allowing them to work closely with each of our Guides (educators) and alongside all attending students."



"A Maker's Dream

The Depot, located at Folsom and 22nd, is a gorgeous 1,400 SF workshop and maker lab. We've completed the build out on our new space, The Depot will house a full wood shop, 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, and digital and physical arts labs. We couldn't be happier with the results!

While the bus may be the soul of nomad, The Depot is the heart. More than just a workshop, this space allows the full student body to meet and participate in group events, social emotional learning opportunities, and large group projects. The Depot is our home - the place we start our day and come back to to warm up and reground after a day on the road."



"Experiential, Meaningful, Nimble

MOBILITY + COMMUNITY = IMPACT
NOMAD believes students have the power to enact real change. Our curriculum and projects are intended to educate and empower students to create change in their own communities. Being fully mobile allows us to participate in our communities and take advantage of all the learning potential of our entire city. By talking to our neighbors, asking questions, and collaborating with organizations and fellow city residents of all ages, we find ways to give back to the community in the projects we undertake. During the Fall 2016 semester, NOMAD students designed the Burlingame city flag with input from members of the community, requests from City Council, and research from historians and librarians. In the past, students have designed tiny homes for the homeless, volunteered with local non-profits, and created apps to prevent bullying. We are replacing the prescriptive nature of most classroom projects with meaningful, real-world impact.

PROJECTS
Learning by doing is crucial to the NOMAD experience. Projects are inspired by our exploration and multi-disciplinary study of the current thematic arc topic. Teachers explicitly teach and model effective project management strategies, guiding students through the process of proposing, planning, executing, and presenting on a project until they are prepared to produce on their own. NOMAD students complete a range of independent, small group, and whole group projects over the course of their time with us, and they are required to complete one project for each subject area per year. Students and teachers curate documentation, assessment, and portfolios of each child's work for all subjects and arcs.

CORE SKILLS
At NOMAD, we believe that core skills aren't the end goal but rather are necessary tools to create the projects of our dreams and to deeply explore the world. We define core skills as the academic basics that enable successful communication and computation required to thrive in today's world. We teach core skills through mini lessons, short but frequent skills practice, a variety of tried and true resources like NEWSELA, Howard Zinn Education Project, and Big History Project. Our educator(s) are experienced in implementing, modifying, and creating curriculum to meet the diverse needs of our mixed aged, mixed ability classes.

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Cornerstone to the learning experience at NOMAD is social-emotional development. Educators have 1:1 conferences with each child, set goals and track progress collaboratively, and have regular transparent conversations about building and sustaining relationships. We incorporate elements of council circles, restorative practices, self-awareness, reflection, and mindfulness. Open, progressive conversations about race, class, gender, and sexual orientation are paramount to our comprehensive program.

PERSONALIZATION
Each student learns differently and has unique interests and needs - personalizing education is key. To ensure that every child is deeply known and receives 1:1 academic and lifeskills mentorship, we limit our class sizes to 8 students.

EXPERTS
Because we aren't limited to a traditional classroom, we can visit professionals, experts, and influential thinkers in their natural habitats. Whether that means driving to Sacramento to sit in on federal court sessions or walking down the street to watch a local print-maker in action, we learn more by visiting members of our community in their offices, workshops and labs, not reading about them or bringing them into our classroom."



"Connect The Dots.

Each school year is defined by the exploration of an initially narrow seeming topic. Through inquiry, exploration and creation, students will discover unending depth and connection.

INQUIRE
Inquiry is driven by the initial thoughts, questions, and feelings the topic of study inspires. Through simulations, experiences, stories, and theories, we co-create a map of what we want to explore, questions that need answered, and ideas we hope to pursue. Inquiry is the foundation of our program; we created a mobile school to enable our curiosity.

EXPLORE
Following the map of our inquiry, NOMAD classes venture out into our city or surrounding cities to take advantage of the resources and untapped learning potential that is all around us. While in the community, students begin answering their initial questions and find interconnectedness in all that we learn. We pull from primary and secondary texts, literature, problems to solve, discussion, online resources, game play, and experiences to learn about and around our topic.

CREATE
After inquiry and exploring the arc topic, project ideas begin to emerge. Students pitch personal and small-group projects, identify experts and mentors they would like to consult, and work strategically to bring their ideas to fruition. Teachers become project managers who help students find their place in their work, tackle obstacles, and leverage strengths to reach a point of culmination. Their work is shared with the larger community through NOMAD culminating events held a few times per school year."



"Mobility Done Two Ways

NOMAD offers two unique ways to get on the bus -- full-time and custom-schooling.

FULL-TIME
Full-time students will attend NOMAD Monday-Friday, participating in the full curriculum. These students will belong to one of two 8-student troops (think homeroom) led by a guide (educator). They will move through the curriculum both as individual troops and as a larger group with all NOMAD students.

Two days a week will be dedicated to the Humanities curriculum, two days to the STEM curriculum and one day to Maker and Physical Arts.

CUSTOM-SCHOOL
Custom-schoolers (also called home-schoolers or indie-schoolers) are able to get their NOMADic experience a la carte. They can choose to do 2, 3 or 4 days a week. For the 2 day option, custom-schoolers can choose between the Humanities curriculum or STEM curriculum. The 3 day option allows students to add on the Maker and Physical Arts curriculum. The 4 day option allows for Humanities and STEM participation.

For the 2017/2018 school year, Monday - Thursday will be dedicated to Humanities, Tuesdays and Thursdays to STEM and Fridays to Maker and Physical Arts.

THE TWO TOGETHER
The full-time and custom-schoolers will be moving through the curriculum together. The only difference between the two groups of students will simply be the number of days they attend."
schools  sanfrancisco  mobile  neo-nomads  nomadic  middleschool  homeschool  christieseyfert  lisabishop  taylorcuffaro  brightworks  sfsh  education  cityasclassroom  learning  inquiry  community  personalization 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Road To Resilient Web Design – Smashing Magazine
"In this context, Mobile First is less about mobile devices per se, and instead focuses on prioritising content and tasks regardless of the device. It discourages assumptions. In the past, web designers had fallen foul of unfounded assumptions about desktop devices. Now it was equally important to avoid making assumptions about mobile devices.

Web designers could no longer make assumptions about screen sizes, bandwidth, or browser capabilities. They were left with the one aspect of the website that was genuinely under their control: the content.

Echoing A Dao Of Web Design, designer Mark Boulton put this new approach into a historical context:
Embrace the fluidity of the web. Design layouts and systems that can cope to whatever environment they may find themselves in. But the only way we can do any of this is to shed ways of thinking that have been shackles around our necks. They’re holding us back.
Start designing from the content out, rather than the canvas in.

This content‐out way of thinking is fundamentally different to the canvas‐in approach that dates all the way back to the Book of Kells. It asks web designers to give up the illusion of control and create a materially‐honest discipline for the World Wide Web.

Relinquishing control does not mean relinquishing quality. Quite the opposite. In acknowledging the many unknowns involved in designing for the web, designers can craft in a resilient flexible way that is true to the medium.

Texan web designer Trent Walton was initially wary of responsive design, but soon realised that it was a more honest, authentic approach than creating fixed‐width Photoshop mock‐ups:
My love for responsive centers around the idea that my website will meet you wherever you are — from mobile to full‐blown desktop and anywhere in between.

For years, web design was dictated by the designer. The user had no choice but to accommodate the site’s demand for a screen of a certain size or a network connection of a certain speed. Now, web design can be a conversation between the designer and the user. Now, web design can reflect the underlying principles of the web itself.
On the twentieth anniversary of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners‐Lee wrote an article for Scientific American in which he reiterated those underlying principles:
The primary design principle underlying the Web’s usefulness and growth is universality. The Web should be usable by people with disabilities. It must work with any form of information, be it a document or a point of data, and information of any quality — from a silly tweet to a scholarly paper. And it should be accessible from any kind of hardware that can connect to the Internet: stationary or mobile, small screen or large.
"
jeremykeith  webdev  mobilefirst  webdesign  design  web  accessibility  mobile  2017  timberners-lee  markboulton  trentalton  ethanmarcotte 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Cinema in Black | Pioneer Works
"Cinema in Black
Taught by: Derica Shields Fanta Sylla
Mar 04 — Apr 22
8 Sessions
Saturdays, 3 - 6:00pm
First class, free RSVP
Entire class, $180

“But I think this underrepresentation also an amazing opportunity for us. It’s almost like Silicon Valley in the 80s and 90s: the black community is where all the great ideas are, it’s where the next generation of filmmakers are going to come from, it’s what’s going to save movies. Once we start making movies in the same way that we make music, it’ll be undeniable. Once we’re able to represent ourselves—not even represent ourselves but to express ourselves—in the way that we feel and we think, then I don’t even know what to say. I don’t even know what that’s gonna look like!”

— Kahlil Joseph (music video director and filmmaker)

What is missing from the screens? Is Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.a.a.d City an album or a short film? Does WorldStarHipHop create better representations of Blackness than Hollywood?

Cinema in Black explores representations of Blackness on screen and in text through films and related writing. The class will create an unconventional Black film canon through the appreciation of Black auteurs, including a focus on independent video artists and filmmakers and an exploration of alternative forms such as short online videos and music videos. Via the reading of seminal critical texts and discussions with guests and screenings, students will be asked to think about their own vision of cinema, their style and singular authorship. Students will be asked to experiment with tools they use in their everyday life (smartphones, Instagram and Snapchat Stories) and to write an augmented script. We hope to create a space in which we all can subvert hegemonic images and ways of thinking about Blackness, cinema and art and give birth to new images and new worlds.

This first meeting of this class is offered for free with an RSVP; the entire class requires registration after the first meeting.

Image from good kid, m.A.A.d city, directed by Kahlil Joseph.

Teacher(s)

Derica Shields is a writer, film programmer, and co-founder of The Future Weird.

Fanta Sylla is a critic (Reverse Shot, TIFF, Indiewire, Variety) and author of The Black Film Critic Syllabus. She’s based in Paris."
fantasylla  dericashields  2017  film  filmmaking  blackness  pioneerworks  kahiljoseph  smartphones  cinema  art  snapchat  instagram  storytelling  expression  kendricklamar  worldstarhiphop  hollywood  internet  online  web  mobile  phones  musicvideos  video 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Curb | The taxi app
"Curb connects you to safe, reliable rides from professional drivers. Download Curb for iPhone or Android to request your ride with the tap of a button, track your driver’s arrival, and pay your fare seamlessly."

[See also: http://www.goarro.com/ ]
taxis  applications  ios  android  mobile  transportation 
january 2017 by robertogreco
This Is What Happens When Millions Of People Suddenly Get The Internet - BuzzFeed News
"Less than 1% of Myanmar had internet access until 2014. Now the country is getting online at an astonishing rate — but so is fake news and anti-Muslim sentiment. Sheera Frenkel finds out what happens when everyone you know joins Facebook at the same time."



"YANGON, Myanmar — The internet brought Donald Trump to Myanmar. Or, at least that’s how Shar Ya Wai first remembers hearing about the Republican president-elect.

“One day, nobody knew him. Then, everyone did. That’s what the internet is. It takes people who say crazy things and makes them famous,” the 19-year-old student said.

Like most people in this country of 50 million, which only recently opened up to the outside world, Shar Ya Wai is new to the internet. And on this day, she had walked purposefully into a phone shop in central Yangon to buy her first smartphone, a simple model by China’s Huawei that is popular among her friends. “Today I’ll buy this phone,” she said. “I guess I’ll find out how crazy [the internet] really is.”

It’s not that she’d never seen the internet before. She’d tried to stalk ex-boyfriends through a friend’s Facebook page and caught glimpses of the latest Thai pop bands on her uncle’s old tablet, which he bought secondhand a year ago. But her forays into the internet have been brief and largely left her perplexed. Here was a public space where everyone seemed to have so much to say, but it was disorganized, bombastic, overwhelming. It felt like the polar opposite of the quiet, sheltered life she’d lived until recently.

“My father is a measured person. He speaks carefully and always wanted us to speak carefully too,” she said, smoothing down her waist-length black hair, betraying her nerves. “I’m more energetic, like my mom. We speak a lot more, but it is nothing like what I see on the internet.”

It was her father who wanted her to put off buying a phone until she was old enough to “use it safely,” though she wasn’t really sure what that meant. She thought he might be referring to the men who post crass and vulgar photos online. Or he might be worried about the various scammers who are increasingly targeting the nascent internet in Myanmar. She wasn’t sure because no one had ever told her how to stay safe online — what to do, or say, or write.

Still, on this day in mid-July, Shar Ya Wai pushed herself out of a crowded store in central Yangon, holding the cellophane-wrapped cell phone as though it were an injured bird. Her fingers cradled the top and felt for the button that would turn it on, but then hesitated.

“Maybe I should wait until later. I should wait until I’m with my family,” she said, and then admitted, “I’m scared.”

She has reason to be afraid. For nearly five decades, Myanmar lived under military dictatorships that suppressed all forms of dissent and limited free speech, leading to US and European sanctions that largely cut off the country from the rest of the world. That changed in 2011, when the military junta was officially dissolved and a nominally civilian government was established. In 2015, in the first national election since the military eased its hold, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party was voted into power. Of the changes to hit the largely Buddhist country since then, few have been as drastic — and as rapid — as the sudden arrival of the internet to the general public. It revolutionized everything, from how people interact with one another to how they get their news, once the exclusive purview of hyper-regulated state-sanctioned media."
myanmar  mobileonly  mobile  phones  internet  sheerafrenkel  technology  news  media  online  facebook  smartphones  viber  socialmedia 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Will Self: Are humans evolving beyond the need to tell stories? | Books | The Guardian
"Neuroscientists who insist technology is changing our brains may have it wrong. What if we are switching from books to digital entertainment because of a change in our need to communicate?"



"A few years ago I gave a lecture in Oxford that was reprinted in the Guardian under the heading: “The novel is dead (this time it’s for real)”. In it I argued that the novel was losing its cultural centrality due to the digitisation of print: we are entering a new era, one with a radically different form of knowledge technology, and while those of us who have what Marshal McLuhan termed “Gutenberg minds” may find it hard to comprehend – such was our sense of the solidity of the literary world – without the necessity for the physical book itself, there’s no clear requirement for the art forms it gave rise to. I never actually argued that the novel was dead, nor that narrative itself was imperilled, yet whenever I discuss these matters with bookish folk they all exclaim: “But we need stories – people will always need stories.” As if that were an end to the matter.

Non-coincidentally, in line with this shift from print to digital there’s been an increase in the number of scientific studies of narrative forms and our cognitive responses to them. There’s a nice symmetry here: just as the technology arrives to convert the actual into the virtual, so other technologies arise, making it possible for us to look inside the brain and see its actual response to the virtual worlds we fabulate and confabulate. In truth, I find much of this research – which marries arty anxiety with techno-assuredness – to be self-serving, reflecting an ability to win the grants available for modish interdisciplinary studies, rather than some new physical paradigm with which to explain highly complex mental phenomena. Really, neuroscience has taken on the sexy mantle once draped round the shoulders of genetics. A few years ago, each day seemed to bring forth a new gene for this or that. Such “discoveries” rested on a very simplistic view of how the DNA of the human genotype is expressed in us poor, individual phenotypes – and I suspect many of the current discoveries, which link alterations in our highly plastic brains to cognitive functions we can observe using sophisticated equipment, will prove to be equally ill-founded.

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has been prominent in arguing that our new digital lives are profoundly altering the structure of our brains. This is undoubtedly the case – but then all human activities impact upon the individual brain as they’re happening; this by no means implies a permanent alteration, let alone a heritable one. After all, so far as we can tell the gross neural anatomy of the human has remained unchanged for hundreds of millennia, while the age of bi-directional digital media only properly dates – in my view – from the inception of wireless broadband in the early 2000s, hardly enough time for natural selection to get to work on the adaptive advantages of … tweeting. Nevertheless, pioneering studies have long since shown that licensed London cab drivers, who’ve completed the exhaustive “Knowledge” (which consists of memorising every street and notable building within a six mile radius of Charing Cross), have considerably enlarged posterior hippocampi.

This is the part of brain concerned with way-finding, but it’s also strongly implicated in memory formation; neuroscientists are now discovering that at the cognitive level all three abilities – memory, location, and narration – are intimately bound up. This, too, is hardly surprising: key for humans, throughout their long pre-history as hunter-gatherers, has been the ability to find food, remember where food is and tell the others about it. It’s strange, of course, to think of Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses as simply elaborations upon our biologically determined inclination to give people directions – but then it’s perhaps stranger still to realise that sustained use of satellite navigation, combined with absorbing all our narrative requirements in pictorial rather written form, may transform us into miserable and disoriented amnesiacs.

When he lectured on literature in the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov would draw a map on the blackboard at the beginning of each session, depicting, for example, the floor plan of Austen’s Mansfield Park, or the “two ways” of Proust’s Combray. What Nabokov seems to have understood intuitively is what neuroscience is now proving: reading fiction enables a deeply memorable engagement with our sense of space and place. What the master was perhaps less aware of – because, as yet, this phenomenon was inchoate – was that throughout the 20th century the editing techniques employed in Hollywood films were being increasingly refined. This is the so-called “tyranny of film”: editing methods that compel our attention, rather than leaving us free to absorb the narrative in our own way. Anyone now in middle age will have an intuitive understanding of this: shots are shorter nowadays, and almost all transitions are effected by crosscutting, whereby two ongoing scenes are intercut in order to force upon the viewer the idea of their synchrony. It’s in large part this tyranny that makes contemporary films something of a headache for older viewers, to whom they can seem like a hypnotic swirl of action.

It will come as no surprise to Gutenberg minds to learn that reading is a better means of forming memory than watching films, as is listening to afternoon drama on Radio 4. This is the so-called “visualisation hypothesis” that proposes that people – and children in particular – find it harder not only to remember film as against spoken or written narratives, but also to come up with novel responses to them, because the amount of information they’re given, together with its determinate nature, forecloses imaginative response.

Almost all contemporary parents – and especially those of us who class themselves as “readers” – have engaged in the Great Battle of Screen: attempting to limit our children’s consumption of films, videos, computer games and phone-based social media. We feel intuitively that it can’t be doing our kids any good – they seem mentally distracted as well as physically fidgety: unable to concentrate as they often look from one handheld screen to a second freestanding one, alternating between tweezering some images on a touchscreen and manipulating others using a remote control. Far from admonishing my younger children to “read the classics” – an utterly forlorn hope – I often find myself simply wishing they’d put their phones down long enough to have their attention compelled by the film we’re watching.

If we take seriously the conclusions of these recent neuroscientific studies, one fact is indisputable: whatever the figures for books sales (either in print or digital form), reading for pleasure has been in serious decline for over a decade. That this form of narrative absorption (if you’ll forgive the coinage) is closely correlated with high attainment and wellbeing may tell us nothing about the underlying causation, but the studies do demonstrate that the suite of cognitive aptitudes needed to decipher text and turn it into living, breathing, visible and tangible worlds seem to wither away once we stop turning the pages and start goggling at virtual tales.

Of course, the sidelining of reading narrative (and along with it the semi-retirement of all those narrative forms we love) is small potatoes compared with the loss of our capacity for episodic memory: would we be quite so quick to post those fantastic holiday photographs on Facebook if we knew that in so doing we’d imperil our ability to recall unaided our walk along the perfect crescent of sand, and our first ecstatic kiss? You might’ve thought that as a novelist who depends on fully attuned Gutenberg minds to read his increasingly complex and confusing texts I’d be dismayed by this craven new couch-based world; and, as a novelist, I am.

I began writing my books on a manual typewriter at around the same time wireless broadband became ubiquitous, sensing it was inimical not only to the act of writing, but that of reading as well: a novel should be a self-contained and self-explanatory world (at least, that’s how the form has evolved), and it needs to be created in the same cognitive mode as it’s consumed: the writer hunkering down into his own episodic memories, and using his own canonical knowledge, while imagining all the things he’s describing, rather than Googling them to see what someone else thinks they look like. I also sense the decline in committed reading among the young that these studies claim: true, the number of those who’ve ever been inclined “to get up in the morning in the fullness of youth”, as Nietzsche so eloquently put it, “and open a book” has always been small; but then it’s worth recalling the sting in the tail of his remark: “now that’s what I call vicious”.

And there is something vicious about all that book learning, especially when it had to be done by rote. There’s something vicious as well about the baby boomer generation, which, not content to dominate the cultural landscape, also demands that everyone younger than us survey it in the same way. For the past five years I’ve been working on a trilogy of novels that aim to map the connections between technological change, warfare and human psychopathology, so obviously I’m attempting to respond to the zeitgeist using this increasingly obsolete art form. My view is that we’re deluded if we think new technologies come into existence because of clearly defined human objectives – let alone benevolent ones – and it’s this that should shape our response to them. No, the history of the 20th century – and now the 21st – is replete with examples of technologies that were developed purely in order to facilitate the killing of people at … [more]
willself  communication  digital  writing  howwewrite  entertainment  books  socialmedia  neuroscience  2016  marshallmcluhan  gutenbergminds  print  change  singularity  videogames  gaming  games  poetry  novels  susangreenfield  rote  rotelearning  twitter  knowledge  education  brain  wayfinding  memory  location  narration  navigation  vladimirnabokov  proust  janeausten  film  video  attention  editing  reading  howweread  visualizationhypothesis  visualization  text  imagery  images  cognition  literacy  multiliteracies  memories  nietzsche  booklearning  technology  mobile  phones  mentalillness  ptsd  humans  humanity  digitalmedia  richardbrautigan  narrative  storytelling 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Your phone is becoming your favorite screen, even when you’re at home - Recode
"Everyone says mobile is the future of digital. But when they talk about mobile, lots of people still talk about it as something you take with you, on the go.

And that’s true! But mobile is also something you turn to when you’re at home and have plenty of other screens to turn to.

We’ve been tracking this for years. Way back in 2011, for instance, Vevo said that most of the mobile views for its music videos were actually happening in bedrooms and living rooms.

Here’s another data point: Sandvine, a broadband services company, says that 30 percent of internet data usage at home comes from phones and tablets.

[graph]

That’s up from 20 percent in 2013 and 9 percent in 2012. So you can see where this is going.

But the road to the future isn’t always a straight line. When you think of streaming, for instance, you probably aren’t thinking about Windows PCs. But you should!

Note, for instance, that in the chart Windows machines still account for more data usage than any other kind of device. Ah! You say. Maybe those Windows users are gaming, or spreadsheeting, or doing something else to gobble up all those gigabytes!

Yup! Could be! But also, they are streaming a lot of video. Here, for instance, is Sandvine’s breakdown of streaming machines during one day of NBC’s Olympics coverage this month:

[graph]

Surprising, no? Now, if Microsoft got itself into the phone business, it might really have something.

Oh. Right."
mobile  digital  media  smartphones  reading  howweread  microsoft  internet  web  online  2016 
september 2016 by robertogreco
WeChat’s world | The Economist
"China’s WeChat shows the way to social media’s future"



"As one American venture capitalist puts it, WeChat is there “at every point of your daily contact with the world, from morning until night”. It is this status as a hub for all internet activity, and as a platform through which users find their way to other services, that inspires Silicon Valley firms, including Facebook, to monitor WeChat closely. They are right to cast an envious eye. People who divide their time between China and the West complain that leaving WeChat behind is akin to stepping back in time.

Among all its services, it is perhaps its promise of a cashless economy, a recurring dream of the internet age, that impresses onlookers the most. Thanks to WeChat, Chinese consumers can navigate their day without once spending banknotes or pulling out plastic. It is the best example yet of how China is shaping the future of the mobile internet for consumers everywhere.

That is only fitting, for China makes and puts to good use more smartphones than any other country. More Chinese reach the internet via their mobiles than do so in America, Brazil and Indonesia combined. Many leapt from the pre-web era straight to the mobile internet, skipping the personal computer altogether. About half of all sales over the internet in China take place via mobile phones, against roughly a third of total sales in America. In other words, the conditions were all there for WeChat to take wing: new technologies, business models built around mobile phones, and above all, customers eager to experiment.

The service, which is known on the mainland as Weixin, began five years ago as an innovation from Tencent, a Chinese online-gaming and social-media firm. By now over 700m people use it, and it is one of the world’s most popular messaging apps (see chart). More than a third of all the time spent by mainlanders on the mobile internet is spent on WeChat. A typical user returns to it ten times a day or more."
wechat  2016  chat  china  money  mobile  messaging 
august 2016 by robertogreco
RUN and RUN / lyrical school 【MV for Smartphone】 on Vimeo
"lyrical school is a hip hop idol group with 6 members
and made a major debut with "RUN and RUN"!!
Its MV is a virtical movie, which is unprecedented and groundbreaking
with taking full advantage of smartphone.
You might feel as if your smartphone is taken over and operated on its own!

http://ls-movie.com/
【RUN and RUNスペシャルサイトオープン!!】
http://cnt.kingrecords.co.jp/ls_rar/
【Music Video Youtube Link】
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g57fYTgVbDk "
verticalvideo  video  music  musicvideo  mobile  phones  iphone  portaitvideo  lyricalschool  2016 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Transit Maps: Apple vs. Google vs. Us — Medium
"Transit maps are beautiful. You see them plastered on bus shelters and subway stops. Your parents kept one in their pockets. You might have one burned into your brain.

A transit map is much more than a list of stations. It’s the underlying anatomy of your city. It shows how people move, how neighbourhoods are connected, and how your craziest city adventures begin.

Of course, transit maps are also incredibly functional: they’re abstract diagrams that show you how your transit system works. They have rigid lines and fixed-angles. While they’re not geographically accurate, they do a pretty good job of helping you figure out how to get from A-to-B. Every transit line has a different colour, and intersecting lines show you where to transfer.

You can ask any transit agency designer: creating a transit map is a painstaking process. Transit agencies put lots of thought into making diagrams that are equally beautiful and functional…

…although no two cities approach transit maps exactly the same way.
Which is great!

Unless you’re trying to design a transit map for every city in the world.

Imagine that: every transit line in every city, condensed into one, single, beautiful, curvy, map. Millions of stops, thousands of lines, hundreds of agencies.

Google Maps and Apple Maps have tried to do it, but we thought we could do better.

They have lots of resources. We don’t. But then again… we have Anton.

In this post, we’ll show you how Anton, our algorithm alchemist, took on both Apple and Google. He’ll be posting a technical follow up soon, so if you’re into that, we’ll let you know on Twitter. (If you want to take our word for it though, maybe just download our app? See our transit maps in all their titillating, unadulterated glory.)"
maps  mapping  application  ios  mobile  android  iphone  googlemaps  applemaps  apple  google  transit  transitapp  publictransit  2016  design 
july 2016 by robertogreco
China Residencies: An Artist's Guide to WeChat
"WeChat is *the* most important app in China. It's absolutely crucial for navigating life in mainland China, and we tell all artists heading that way to download it immediately. To help convey all the wonders of WeChat, we here at China Residencies commissioned Katy Roseland, artist & co-founder of Basement6 Collective, a Shanghai artist run space and residency, to write this guide. Katy's been based in China since the construction of the Great Firewall in 2009, she makes performance work and research centering on the Chinese internet. This guide was generated from her years of researching WeChat along with interviews from Chinternet Noobs and her fellows at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, where she's currently an artist-in-residence.


An Artist's Guide to WeChat

1. INTRODUCTION (LIFE WITHOUT WECHAT)
2. DOWNLOAD!
3. SET IT UP
4. TALK TO PEOPLE
5. LOOK AT PICTURES
6. GROUPTHINK
7. MONEY, MONEY
8. WHERE R U NOW ?
9. JUST HAVE A GOOD TIME
10. MOBILIZE YOURSELF


1. INTRODUCTION (LIFE WITHOUT WECHAT)

In preparing your transition into the "other side of the world", it's safe to assume you have done a bit of research no? You're thinking about what to pack, but you might not have anticipated how to plan for your first encounter with the Chinese internet. The Great Firewall. The big data dissolve. The weirdest facet of this country.

You say censorship, I say xxxxxx xxxx xx.

Once your flight touches down, instinctively you’ll reboot your phone to what might feel like a data void. Maybe you’re adorably surprised by all the new things you can’t access... Not all internets are the same, I met a girl from Japan who couldn’t understand why her Gmail wouldn’t refresh, a friend thought her Facebook had been hacked, and, for a visiting writer, his “critical tweets” were out of reach. If you’re wondering why you’re lacking notifications, it’s because you’re in the land of 404. This is daily life on the Chinese internet, VPN off, we survive.

2. DOWNLOAD!

Let me show you how... Tencent’s China-centric answer to Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter, Vine, and Paypal in a single application. You download this one thing [download it now! do it!] and place it very centrally on your homescreen. You have not a single choice.

…"
wechat  china  chinternet  2016  katyroseland  socialmedia  messaging  mobile  whatsapp  twitter  vine  paypal  facebook  instagram 
july 2016 by robertogreco
11 video game trends that will change the future of the industry | Technology | The Guardian
"1. VR with friends rather than alone

2. Physically collaborative games

Virtual reality and its experimental tech contemporaries are exploring new ways to incorporate the body as more than just an anchor to the physical world. As Ghislaine Boddington, creative director of body>data>space, noted in her talk on virtual reality and the “internet of bodies”, the hope for the future is in recognising and augmenting physical bodies in games and play. She offers technologies like programmable gels used with the body in more intimate ways, such as rubbing “gels on to erogenous zones”, allowing partners to “connect together at a distance”.

Boddington also noted the future of physically collaborative and increasingly social spaces in AR, as seen in the very popular Pokémon Go: “Pokémon Go is definitely a collaborative share space. The Pokémon Go site, along with many others, allow the individual to join with the group into the middle, both in a physical and a virtual way.”

Implications of the physical are vast, as Robin Hunicke, co-founder and creative director of Funomena (Woorld, Luna) and previously of thatgamecompany (Journey), noted on the psychological impact of VR brought about by gestural controls, and recognising the capacity of range of movement from players. What does it mean for a player, psychologically, to encourage them to stand tall and strike a powerful pose? What might it mean to force them into a crouched position, to feel small? The necessity of an embodied experience in VR also brings up new questions, such as what the platform offers by way of accessibility.

3. The future of augmented reality

Pokémon Go came to the UK on the third and last day of the conference, and it felt like everyone in Brighton was catching Magikarp and Shellder and Seel and all the other water Pokémon the seaside town had to offer. Had this international hit been available a little earlier, the conference schedule would surely have contained a few more panels about augmented reality. Whether we can expect to see an AR-heavy Develop 2017 will depend on whether Pokémon Go represents the start of a new trend, or if it’s simply a one-off success carried by an already successful brand.

Ismail thinks the latter. When asked what he would do with Pokémon Go, he said that he would sell it, and that it hasn’t proven anything about AR itself. “We’re seeing a lot of discussion right now about whether AR just beat VR, and I think that would be a very wrong statement. Like, Pokémon beat VR, that’s for sure, but I guess Pokémon beat everything at the moment. Pokémon beat Tinder and Twitter, which is a big deal.”

Hunicke might not be looking to make the next Pokémon Go, but she’s still interested in the potential of augmented-reality games that “make the world more silly and joyful, and less logical”. One of Funomena’s upcoming games, Woorld, is described as “a hand-held Alternative Reality experience”, a “whimsical, exploratory application” that lets you place virtual objects against the backdrop of your physical environment. Created in collaboration with Google, with art from Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy, Noby Noby Boy), this colourful augmented-reality game and sandbox will be available on devices that include Google’s new AR-enabling platform Tango, like the upcoming Lenovo Phab2 Pro.

4. Incremental console updates …

5. The next step for mobile: TV …

6. Sayonara, Steam: the rise of specialised stores

The number of games on Steam is on the rise, and with it, the number of games that go unplayed or unnoticed. Nearly 37% of all registered Steam games go unplayed , and it’s no secret that many indie games – even good, critically acclaimed games – get lost amid a sea of other green lit games.

In light of this, smaller more specialised distribution services are becoming more important. Itch.io, an “indie game marketplace and DIY game jam host” is already hugely popular in the indie scene, offering pay-what-you-want and minimum-pricing models. Just last year, Itch’s co-founder Leaf Corcoran revealed in a blog post about the site’s finances that they had paid out $393,000 to developers. Since then, the platform has only grown and it’s likely that we’ll see more specialised distributors following Itch’s model.

7. The rise of indie studios …

8. Rejecting crunch

Crunch, ie mandatory (and often unpaid) overtime in the weeks or months leading to a game’s release, has long been an issue for this industry. More than a decade since Erin Hoffman wrote about her husband’s experiences of unpaid overtime when working for EA, in an originally anonymous blog post known at the time as “EA Spouse”, crunch is still commonplace in studios of all sizes, and people are still fighting it.

At this year’s Develop, Machine Studios (Maia) founder Simon Roth gave a talk called “Killing the Indie Crunch Myth: Shipping Games Alive”, which began tweet:
People who support crunch are going against 100+ years of data and science. They are the flat earthers of software development.

9. Design that puts feelings first

The design practice underlying Hunicke’s studio Funomena, and the focus of her keynote, is one she calls “feel engineering”. As Hunicke describes it: “Feel engineering is the process by which you create a game backwards from the feeling you want to create in a person forward towards the mechanics and the dynamics of the game itself.” She notes that while feel engineering isn’t easy, due to its time commitment, high cost, and level of emotional investment asked from development teams, it’s worth it. Hunicke speaks to the positive studio culture of feeling-focused engineering, and its contrast to the toxicity of crunch is evident. “The process of making it is so delightful,” she adds. “It’s so much better than anything I’ve ever done.”

We’ve already seen aspects of feel engineering in the mobile market, with games looking to reverse-engineer social situations people already find fun. Haslam outlines how the design of “co-operative shouting game” Spaceteam was inspired by the social experience of playing a board game with friends, an experience its lead designer Henry Smith already enjoyed.

10. Trying – and failing …

11. Feeling twitchy about YouTube and Twitch"
games  gaming  videogames  future  2016  vr  virtualreality  ar  augmentedreality  youtube  twitch  funomena  kickstarter  crowdfunding  indiegames  design  gamedesign  spaceteam  social  collaboration  braid  worldofgoo  steam  itch.io  mobile  phones  smartphones  pokemongo  keitatakahashi  robinhunicke  thatgamecompany  ghislaineboddington  body>data>space  bodies  play  physical  oculusrift  ramiismail  jordanericaebber  katbrewster  pokémongo  body 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Bliss Station
"It’s felt impossible lately not to be distracted and despondent. I’m trying to spend as much time at my bliss station as I can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where is your bliss station?” Campbell asked. “You have to try to find it.”"
2016  austinkleon  josephcampbell  time  space  solitude  aloneness  francisfordcoppola  vvale  attention  socialmedia  howweowork  connectivity  internet  web  online  addiction  silence  mobile  phones  focus  workspaces  distraction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Look Up
"As you near an intersection it prompts you to look up via...

• vibrating
• showing an eyeball animation if you're on the home screen
• showing a "Look Up" notification if you're in an app
• showing the intersection's energy score in the number of vibrations and iris rings in the eyeball animations

Look Up is an Android Live Wallpaper

It runs in the background as a wallpaper, so you can use other apps on top of it. You can choose to be prompted at every one to three intersections, or at random while on foot, on a bicycle or in a car. It doesn't require a SIM card and uses low battery and data.

Made with Processing and support from Google Creative Labs.

Phone distraction and
street awareness
Look Up breaks the habit of constantly checking our phones and builds a ritual of looking up at intersections and not missing out on the city – taking all the energy we put into our phones back into our streets.

People and energy
Every person who comes to NYC brings their own energy and when there’s a crash some of that energy is lost and forgotten. Look Up uses crash injuries and fatalities data from NYC DOT’s Vision Zero to create a 1–5 energy score reminding participants why our streets need their energy, eyes, and “hellos”. The higher the score, the more crashes, and the more energy participants should put back.

Free and open
Look Up uses intersections to free participants from their phones and opens them to the people and city around them. It doesn’t tell them who or what to connect with, who to make eye contact with or say hello to. It’s an open connection. Also the app will be free and open source!

Whether it's strangers making eye contact and saying hello or friends hugging, Look Up hopes to tear down the digital walls we build up, opening us to seeing, acknowledging and valuing the people and city around us."

[via: https://twitter.com/ekeneijeoma/status/752515488278872064 via @shashashasha]
applications  nyc  mobile  ekeneijeoma  ios  android  phones 
july 2016 by robertogreco
61 Glimpses of the Future — Today’s Office — Medium
"1. If you want to understand how our planet will turn out this century, spend time in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil.

2. If you’re wondering how long the Chinese economic miracle will last, the answer will probably be found in the bets made on commercial and residential developments in Chinese 3rd to 6th tier cities in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet.

4. Touch ID doesn’t work at high altitude, finger prints are too dry.

5. You no longer need to carry a translation app on your phone. If there’s someone to speak with, they’ll have one on theirs.

6. A truly great border crossing will hold a mirror up to your soul.

9. The art of successful borderland travel is to know when to pass through (and be seen by) army checkpoints and when to avoid them.

10. Borders are permeable.

12. The premium for buying gasoline in a remote village in the GBAO is 20% more than the nearest town. Gasoline is harder to come by, and more valuable than connectivity.

13. After fifteen years of professionally decoding human behaviour, I’m still surprised by the universality of body language.

14. Pretentious people are inherently less curious.

15. Everything is fine, until that exact moment when it’s obviously not. It is easy to massively over/under estimate risk based on current contextual conditions. Historical data provides some perspective, but it usually comes down to your ability to read undercurrents, which in turn comes down to having built a sufficiently trusted relationship with people within those currents.

16. Sometimes, everyone who says they know what is going on, is wrong.

17. Every time you describe someone in your own country as a terrorist, a freedom is taken away from a person in another country.

18. Every country has its own notion of “terrorism”, and the overuse, and reaction to the term in your country helps legitimise the crack-down of restive populations in other countries.

17. China is still arguably the lowest-trust consumer society in the world. If a product can be faked it will be. Out of necessity, they also have the most savvy consumers in the world.

18. After twenty years of promising to deliver, Chinese solar products are now practical (available for purchase, affordable, sufficiently efficient, robust) for any community on the edge-of-grid, anywhere in the world. Either shared, or sole ownership.

20. When a fixed price culture meets a negotiation culture, fun ensues.

21. The sharing economy is alive and well, and has nothing to with your idea of the sharing economy.

25. Chinese truckers plying their trade along the silk road deserve to be immortalised as the the frontiersmen of our generation. (They are always male.)

29. The most interesting places have map coordinates, but no names.

30. There are are number of companies with a competitive smartphone portfolio. The rise of Oppo can be explained by its presence on every block of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th tier Chinese cities.

32. People wearing fake Supreme are way more interesting than those that wear the real deal.

33. An iPhone box full of fungus caterpillar in Kham Tibet sold wholesale, is worth more than a fully specced iPhone. It’s worth 10x at retail in 1st/2nd Tier China. It is a better aphrodisiac too.

35. One of the more interesting aspects of very high net worth individuals (the financial 0.001%), is the entourage that they attract, and the interrelations between members of that entourage. This is my first time travelling with a spiritual leader (the religious 0.001%), whose entourage included disciples, and members of the financial 0.01% looking for a karmic handout. The behaviour of silicon valley’s nouveau riche is often parodied but when it comes to weirdness, faith trumps money every time. Any bets on the first Silicon Valley billionaire to successfully marry the two? Or vice versa?

37. For every person that longs for nature, there are two that long for man-made.

38. Tibetan monks prefer iOS over Android.

40. In order to size up the tribe/sub-tribe you’re part of, any group of young males will first look at the shoes on your feet.

42. After the Urumqi riots in 2009 the Chinese government cut of internet connectivity to Xinjiang province for a full year. Today connectivity is so prevalent and integrated into every aspect of Xinjiang society, that cutting it off it would hurt the state’s ability to control the population more than hinder their opposition. There are many parts to the current state strategy is to limit subversion, the most visible of which is access to the means of travel. For example every gas station between Kashi and Urumqi has barbed wire barriers at its gates, and someone checking IDs.

43. TV used to be the primary way for the edge-of-grid have-nots to discover what they want to have. Today it is seeing geotagged images from nearby places, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away.

44. Facebook entering China would be a Pyrrhic victory, that would lead to greater scrutiny and regulation worldwide. Go for it.

45. The sooner western companies own up to copying WeChat, the sooner we can get on with acknowledging a significant shift in the global creative center of gravity.

48. Green tea beats black tea for acclimatising to altitude sickness.

49. The most interesting destinations aren’t geotagged, are not easily geo-taggable. Bonus points if you can figure that one out.

50. The first time you confront a leader, never do it in front of their followers, they’ll have no way to back down.

51. There is more certainty in reselling the past, than inventing the future.

55. Pockets of Chengdu are starting to out-cool Tokyo.

56. To what extent does cultural continuity, and societal harmony comes from three generations under one roof?

58. If you want to understand where a country is heading pick a 2nd or 3rd tier city and revisit it over many years. Chengdu remains my bellwether 2nd tier Chinese city. It’s inland, has a strong local identity and sub-cultures, and has room to grow. Bonus: its’ only a few hours from some of the best mountain ranges in the world.

60. The difference between 2.5G and 3G? In the words of a smartphone wielding GBAO teenager on the day 3G data was switched on her town, “I can breathe”."
janchipchase  2016  travel  technology  borders  authenticity  pretension  curiosity  china  tibet  japan  eligion  culture  capitalism  wechat  facebook  android  ios  tokyo  chengdu  future  past  communication  tea  greentea  certainty  monks  translation  nature  indonesia  nigeria  brasil  brazil  india  shoes  connectivity  internet  mobile  phones  smartphones  sharingeconomy  economics  negotiation  touchid  cities  urban  urbanism  location  risk  relationships  consumers  terrorism  truckers  oppo  siliconvalley  wealth  nouveauriche  comparison  generations 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Ghost in the machine: Snapchat isn’t mobile-first — it’s something else entirely — Free Code Camp
"Snapchat is not mobile-first, and it’s not really an app anymore. Nor is it a meta-app platform at this point like Facebook Messenger is angling to become (at least not yet). Snapchat is a true creature of mobile, a living, breathing embodiment of everything that our camera-enabled, networked pocket computer can possibly offer. And in its cooption of smartphones into a true social operating system, we see the inklings of what is beyond mobile.
When I open Snapchat up to the camera, I can’t shake the feeling that the ghost is banging on the glass, trying to break out into the world."
snapchat  benbasche  2016  photography  ar  augmentedreality  design  ux  ui  media  susansontag  nathanjurgenson  cameras  feeds  mobile  mobilefirst  twitter  facebook  instagram  experience  socialmedia  smartphones  uber  authenticallymobile  evanspiegel 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Device is the Message
["THE-DEVICE-IS-THE-MESSAGE_PART_I"
http://blog.newhive.com/the-device-is-the-message_part_i/v

"The Device is the Message by Liliana Farber

Storage Un.it is a small project space located in a storage unit @ arebyte Gallery in London. The space features a series of projects, which take place online and investigate the relationship between the URL & IRL. The space was initiated in Nov 2015 as part of ‘The Wrong’ online Biennale.

The second residency in storage-un.it is artist Liliana Farber and her work titled the-device-is-the-message_Part_I.

The work focuses on the idea of the smartphone as an active agent in the way we interact with the real world, the art world and the online world, but also with each other. Confrontations become digitized and repercussions between the machine and its user are staged virtually.

In relation to the way in which the smartphone has become integral to the modern world, Farber will interrogate how this reliance affects real interactions — but also how the specific language of the virtual is shaping our perceptions of time, space and place in the real. The symbiotic relationship between the user, the machine and the notion of privacy is of interest for the artist and will be explored further via recordings and research with relation to her personal data usage.

A precise intimacy is at play between the user and the screen; private experiences are created but can also become part of the public domain. This idea of the boundaries between public and private can be seen by the way in which Farber is conducting her research and documenting the project’s progress. All aspects are continually updated via NewHive, and viewers can watch the project update in real time through September 10th, 2016.

Once the online residency is completed, the research undertaken will be presented in an exhibition displayed through the smartphone screen – both reflecting on the temporal nature of imagery and our constant exposure to content, a comment on the sub-sequential reliance on the screen to divulge information."]
thedeviceisthemessage  lilianafarber  newhive  smartphones  mobile  art  2016  privacy  online  internet  phones  time  space  place  public  private  imagery  netart 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Databite No. 76: Neil Selwyn - live stream - YouTube
"Neil Selwyn presents (Dis)Connected Learning: the messy realities of digital schooling: In this Databite, Neil Selwyn will work through some emerging headline findings from a new three year study of digital technology use in Australian high schools. In particular Neil will highlight the ways in which schools’ actual uses of technology often contradict presumptions of ‘connected learning’, ‘digital education’ and the like. Instead Neil will consider ….

• how and why recent innovations such as maker culture, personalised learning and data-driven education are subsumed within more restrictive institutional ‘logics’;

• the tensions of ‘bring your own device’ and other permissive digital learning practices • how alternative and resistant forms of technology use by students tend to mitigate *against* educational engagement and/or learning gains;

• the ways in which digital technologies enhance (rather than disrupt) existing forms of advantage and privilege amongst groups of students;

• how the distributed nature of technology leadership and innovation throughout schools tends to restrict widespread institutional change and reform;

• the ambiguous role that digital technologies play in teachers’ work and the labor of teaching;

• the often surprising ways that technology seems to take hold throughout schools – echoing broader imperatives of accountability, surveillance and control.

The talk will provide plenty of scope to consider how technology use in schools might be ‘otherwise’, and alternate agendas to be pursued by educators, policymakers, technology developers and other stakeholders in the ed-tech space."

[via: "V interesting talk by Neil Selwyn on ed-tech and (dis)connected learning in school"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/718900001271783424 ]

"the grammar of schooling"
neilselwyn  edtech  byod  via:audreywatters  logitics  technology  teaching  learning  howweteacher  power  mobile  phones  ipads  laptops  pedagogy  instruction  resistance  compliance  firewalls  making  makingdo  youth  schools  design  micromanagement  lms  application  sameoldsameold  efficiency  data  privacy  education  howweteach  regimentation  regulation  rules  flexibility  shininess  time  schooliness  assessment  engagement  evidence  resilience  knowledge  schedules  class  leadership  performativity  schooldesign  connectedlearning  surveillance  control  accountability  change  institutions  deschooling  quest2play  relationships  curriculum  monitoring  liberation  dml  liberatorytechnology  society  culture  ethnography  schooling  sorting  discipline  ipad 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Rule of Three and other ideas
"and other handy thoughts: so many folks have asked me for a "quick start" set of rules for the design of 3rd Millennium learning spaces...
... this Rule of Three section and some of the other ideas here (see top of this page), have all been well received in conferences, seminars and most importantly adopted / shared with success by practitioners. These are proven, working ideas, so I thought it was time to park some of them on a web page:

***

rule of three - physical

I guess rule one is really that there is no absolutely right way to make learning better - schools are all different, their communities, contexts vary and as I have often observed on a windy day they become different places again. So you build your local recipe for great learning from the trusted and tested ingredients of others, adding a bit of local flair too. But this rule of three helps:

one: never more than three walls

two: no fewer than three points of focus

three: always able to accommodate at least three teachers, three activities (for the larger spaces three full "classes" too)

make no mistake - this is not a plea for those ghastly open plan spaces of the 1960s with their thermoplastic floors under high alumina concrete beams - with the consequent cacophony that deafened their teachers. Today's third millennium learning spaces are multi-faceted, agile (and thus easily re-configured by users as they use them), but allow all effective teaching and learning approaches, now and in the future, to be incorporated: collaborative work, mentoring, one-on-one, quiet reading, presentation, large group team taught groups... and more.

***

rule of three - pedagogic

one: ask three then me

A simple way to encourage peer support, especially in a larger mixed age, stage not age space, but it even works fine in a small 'traditional" closed single class classroom. Put simply the students should ask 3 of their peers before approaching the teacher for help. I've watched, amused in classes where a student approaches the teacher who simply holds up 3 fingers, with a quizzical expression and the student paused, turned and looked for help for her peers first. Works on so many levels...

two: three heads are better than one

Everyone engaging in team teaching reports that, once you get over the trust-wall of being confident that your colleagues will do their bit (see Superclasses) the experience of working with others, the professional gains, and the reduction in workloads are real and worthwhile. You really do learn rapidly from other teachers, the children's behaviour defaults to the expectations of the teacher in the room with the highest expectations, and so on. Remarkably schools especially report on the rapid progress of newly qualified teachers who move forward so quickly that people forget they are still NQTs. And older teachers at career end become rejuvenated by a heady mix of new ideas and of self esteem as they see that their "teaching craft" skills are valued and valuable.

three: three periods a day or fewer

Particularly in 2ndary schools a fragmented timetable of 5 or 6 lessons a day wastes so much time stopping and starting. Children arrive and spend, say, 3 minutes getting unpacked, briefed and started, then end 2 minutes before the "bell" and have 5 minutes travelling time between classes. On a 5 period day that is (3+2+5) x 5 = 50 minutes "lost" each day, 50 x 5 = 250 lost each week, which is effectively throwing away a day a week. Longer blocks, immersion can be solid blocks of a day of more, some schools even adopt a week, gets students truly engaged - and serves as a clear barrier to Dick Turpin teaching ("Stand and Deliver!") - which simply cannot be sustained for long blocks of time - thank goodness. This doesn't mean that the occasional "rapid fire" day (a bit like pedagogic Speed Dating!) can't be used to add variety. But longer blocks of time work better mainly.

***

rule of three - BYOD / UMOD

some schools adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), or more recently Use My Own Device (UMOD - somehow, bringing them wasn't enough!) initially adopted really comprehensive "acceptable use policies" - bulging folders of policy that were neither understood nor adhered too (see for example the "sacrificial phones" mention under "What young people say" in the 2011 Nominet funded Cloudlearn research project).

Today though (2015) schools around the world, from Scandinavia to Australasia, are simpifying all this by three simple rules.

one: phones out, on the desk, screen up

Not everyone has a "desk" anymore of course, but the point here is that a device hidden under a work surface is more likely to be a problem than one on the worksurface, screen up. This makes it quick and easy to use, where appropriate, and simple to monitor by teachers or peers.

two: if you bring it, be prepared to share sometimes

This is more complex that it looks. Obviously handing your phone or tablet over to just anyone isn't going to happen, but the expectation that friends, or project collaborators, might simply pick up "your" device and chat to Siri, Google for resources, or whatever, means that bullying, inappropriate texts / images, or general misdemeanours are always likely to be discovered. Transparency is your friend here, secrecy masks mischief - and the expectation of occasional sharing is transparency enough. It also helps students develop simply safety / security habits - like logging out of social media to prevent Frapping or similar.

three: if you bring it, the school might notice and respond positively

If you've brought your own device along, the least you might expect is that the school gives you useful things to do, that you could not otherwise do, or couldn't do so well, without that device.

This requires a bit of imagination all round! A simple example would be the many schools that now do outdoor maths project tasks using the devices GPS trace capability (the device is sealed in a box during the excercise) like the children below tasked with drawing a Christmas tree on the park next to their school: estimating skills, geometry, measurement, scale, collaboration.... and really jolly hard to do with a pencil!

[image of a GPS traced tree]

***

knowing the 3rd millennium ABCs

A

ambition: how good might your children be?

agility: how quickly can we reconfigure to catch the wave - at a moment, only over a year, or at best across a generation?

astonishment: we want people to be astonished by what these children, and teachers, might achieve - how do we showcase this? how do we respond to it ourselves?

B

brave: what are others doing, what tested ideas can we borrow, how can we feed our own ideas to others? Brave is not foolhardy or reckless!

breadth: learning reaches out to who? embraces what? what support do you give for your school's grandparents for example?

blockers: you will need help with beating the blockers - if you run at the front, you need resources that win arguments: what is the evidence that...? why doesn't everyone do this...? where can I see it in action...? why should I change, ever...? all this exists of course (see top of page for example), but you need to organise it and be ready with it. A direct example is this workshop manual we developed for the new science spaces at Perth's Wesley College in Australia.

C

collegiality: that sense of belonging, of us-ness, sense of family, sharing, co-exploring, research. Also a sense of us (the team working on this innovation) being learners too - and able to show that we are trying cool stuff too - you won't win hearts and minds by saying but not doing;

communication: how does a learning space / building communicate what happens within? and this is about symmetry: how does the school listen to what happens outside school? how do we share and exchange all this with others?

collaboration: we don't want to be told, but we want to do this with others. How do we share what we learn as we do it? Who do we share with? How do we learn from them?"
tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  edtech  technology  schooldesign  stephenheppell  via:sebastienmarion  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  education  teaching  learning  schools  collaboration  byod  umod  sharing  ambition  agility  astonishment  bravery  breadth  blockers  collegiality  communication  simplicity  mobile  phones  desks  furniture  computers  laptops  etiquette  conviviality  scheduling  teams  interdependence  canon  sfsh 
march 2016 by robertogreco
How Snapchat Built a Business By Confusing Olds
"Snapchat, which was most recently valued at $16 billion, doesn’t look or feel like any normal form of communication. Open the app, and you’re confronted by a full-screen viewfinder that looks a lot like your phone’s regular camera app. Mysterious abstract icons hover in corners. Swiping right reveals your messages. This is where committed users send hundreds of selfies a day to their friends, annotating them with emojis or doodles, or applying one of Snapchat’s constantly changing collection of rainbow-vomit-type filters.

Swiping left gets you to the meat of the app: stories. These are short video clips that run in a series and disappear within 24 hours. You, your friends, and people you follow, like DJ Khaled, can post. The upper half of the screen is devoted to variations on stories: the day’s Snapchat-produced Live Stories, as well as Snapchat Discover. There are 20 Snapchat Discover channels, each produced by established media brands such as People, CNN, ESPN, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as up-and-comers such as Vice, BuzzFeed, and Refinery29. Coles’s Cosmo channel is on Discover, as is Sweet, a publication run by the magazine’s parent company, Hearst.

Discover partners generally post 10 or more videos a day on its channels. App users can tap a channel icon to start watching the stream, and tap again to skip to the next clip. Or, if they’re intrigued by a clip, they can swipe up to watch a longer version or read an article. No matter how they tap or swipe, users stay in the app. Links to the Web aren’t allowed. Publishers love not having to compete with a steady stream of links from other publishers, as on Facebook or Twitter, and advertisers love that users actually seem to watch the ads. Since last year, Snapchat has broadened its advertiser base by introducing less-expensive products. Today, buying time on Discover costs $20 per thousand views—more than twice what an ad goes for on Facebook and Instagram. The proceeds are split between Snapchat and its media partners.

The number of Discover slots is limited—right now it’s just the 20 that fit on one Snapchat screen—and competition among media brands is fierce. In July, Snapchat dropped Yahoo! even though Spiegel had personally recruited Katie Couric, Yahoo’s lead news anchor. BuzzFeed got that slot. Snapchat declines to explain why it bounced Yahoo, but traffic to the channel was reportedly poor. Shortly after replacing Yahoo on Discover, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti disclosed that 21 percent of his company’s overall audience came from Snapchat, a share exceeded only by Facebook and BuzzFeed’s own website and apps.

For less-established companies, getting a Discover slot can be transformative. “That was a dramatic moment in the life of our company,” says Steven Kydd, a co-founder of Tastemade, a four-year-old media startup focused on food and travel videos. Since joining Discover in August, Tastemade has added 20 employees, raised an extra $40 million in venture capital, and reoriented itself around Snapchat. Tastemade started out producing videos primarily for YouTube, then expanded to Facebook, Instagram, and Apple TV. To be eligible for Snapchat’s Discover feature, not only did Tastemade have to produce even more videos, it also needed them to work on a smartphone screen, which is more complicated than it sounds. “This,” Kydd says, pointing at a TV mounted vertically on the wall in Tastemade’s studio in Los Angeles, “is how millennials view content.”

The company built a set, specifically designed for vertical videos, that’s roughly 15 percent skinnier than a standard set and has cameras turned on their sides. Tastemade still has to fill up the other platforms, so it shoots the rest of its videos horizontally on high-resolution cameras, while keeping the action in the middle third of the screen so the footage can also run on Snapchat. TV monitors in the studio are marked with black tape that shows the Snapchat version’s frame. Afterward, segments are edited into multiple cuts: vertical for Snapchat, square for Instagram and Facebook, horizontal for YouTube and Apple TV. “Everything in the industry is designed around landscape video, so to do portrait you kind of have to hack the process,” says Jay Holzer, Tastemade’s head of production."



"History suggests that cookie-based media, and Snapchat in general, may be a fad. In 2013, several viral video companies thrived, thanks to a knack for being able to rank highly in Facebook’s News Feed by using teasing headlines. For a time, it worked; Upworthy, for example, saw traffic hit nearly 90 million unique users. But Facebook changed its News Feed, consumers tired of the click bait, and traffic sank. “Facebook changed and we adapted,” says Upworthy co-CEO Peter Koechley.

Before he helped start Tastemade, Kydd was an executive vice president of Demand Media, which ran content farms, websites that cranked out posts by the thousands on a daily basis. Posts had little informational value—for instance, “How to Put on a Speedo” was a classic—but they generated huge traffic, and ad revenue, by exploiting a quirk in the way Google handled search queries. The company went public in 2011 and peaked at a valuation of roughly $2 billion—at the time, about 25 percent more than that of the New York Times. Then Google updated its algorithm, and Demand Media’s traffic collapsed. Today its market capitalization is roughly $100 million, and it has a new management team. Kydd notes that Tastemade has always focused on high-quality content.

In late February, Snapchat announced it would provide detailed demographic information about users through Nielsen’s digital ratings service, a welcome development for some advertisers wary of the hype. “Snapchat is awfully expensive, and there’s pretty much a lack of data and visibility,” says Thom Gruhler, a marketing vice president at Microsoft. Another complaint: Meetings with Snapchat executives are rare. “Whether it’s Imran [Khan, Snapchat’s chief strategy officer] or Evan, it’s like getting an audience with the pope,” says an executive at one of the largest ad agencies. With Facebook and Twitter, the big agencies get as many meetings as they want.

Snapchat declined to comment on this critique, but it has informed media buyers that it plans to improve ad targeting and measuring while promising a more hands-on approach. And in February it struck a deal to allow Viacom to sell ads on Snapchat’s behalf. “They’re in the midst of growing up,” says Carrie Seifer, president for digital at Starcom MediaVest Group.

For now, that’s been enough. Advertisers don’t have a lot of good options to reach under-30s. The audiences of CBS, NBC, and ABC are, on average, in their 50s. Cable networks such as CNN and Fox News have it worse, with median viewerships near or past Social Security age. MTV’s median viewers are in their early 20s, but ratings have dropped in recent years. Marketers are understandably anxious, and Spiegel and his deputies have capitalized on those anxieties brilliantly by charging hundreds of thousands of dollars when Snapchat introduces an ad product. OMD’s Winkler calls this a “shrewd strategy” that “instantly elevates the conversation—often to the CMO level,” which means that Snapchat ad buys are often subject to less budgetary scrutiny than normal. “Every CMO’s kid is using it,” says Starcom’s Seifer."
snapchat  2016  genertions  age  video  mobile  television  tv  tastemade  verticalvideo  portraitvideo 
march 2016 by robertogreco
More phones, few banks and years of instability are transforming Somalia to a cashless society - Quartz
"In recent years, the lack of retail banking in Somalia and fears of continued unrest—Al-Shabaab continues to occasionally stage attacks throughout the country—have made the service vital to Somalia’s reconstruction. Hormuud holds the cash, acting in essence like a bank.

“The main reason why the service was adopted is because the banking systems in the country are very limited,” said Yusuf. “It’s also because it is much risk carrying cash here since the country is still politically unstable and recovering from more than two decades of chaos and civil war.”

Hormuud says it designed the software for EVC Plus with the help of Kenya’s Safaricom, a partner of British multinational telecoms company Vodafone. EVC Plus works like Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service M-PESA, which has brought banking services to millions since its introduction in 2007.

Unlike M-Pesa, which works in local currency, Hormuud’s money transfer system uses US dollars, the country’s preferred currency of trade, even though the Somali shilling is still in circulation. Users can transfer up to $3,000 a day throughout southern and central Somalia. The mobile platform Zaad, launched in 2009 by communications company Telesom in the self-declared independent northern region of Somaliland, has seen similar success.

EVC Plus allows users to purchase cellphone airtime for themselves or family members, pay water and electricity bills, and transfer money. It’s also designed so that users can set up automated payments, SMS reminders and financial reports without an internet connection.

Almost every merchant in Mogadishu, even hawkers on the street, accepts payment by cellphone using EVC Plus.

“It’s not safe to carry cash money here,” said Dhublawe Ibrahim Aden, 25, a hawker who sells shoes and clothes. “If someone has to buy my shoes and bungles [necklaces] then he has to pay me through my cellphone. I don’t accept cash money from clients.”

The service still has risks: al-Shabaab threatened companies supporting the technology in 2014, and Oxfam says that the platforms could benefit from greater regulation and training in order to allay concerns that they are being used to funnel money to terrorist groups.

But there’s no doubt that the service has been vital for the otherwise struggling economy, said Halima Aden, a member of the Somali Economic Forum, an independent organization that supports the country’s economic and financial development.

“People are doing business without any fear of losing cash to militants or conmen,” Aden said. “The country’s telecommunications sector has undergone a rapid rise, fueled by intense competition amongst the numerous telecommunication firms that dominate the country.”"
somalia  mobile  phones  cash  money  2016  economics  africa 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Guildlings
"We know a place where mages run raves,
harpies haunt the suburbs,
and a road trip can save the world.

Follow us.

Guildlings is a fantasy adventure
in a world of wizards and wifi.
Coming to mobile in 2017."
videogames  mobile  games  fantasy  edg  srg  gaming  ios  adventure  wifi 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Vertical video is becoming more popular, but there’s no consensus on the best way to make it » Nieman Journalism Lab
"Some outlets are turning their cameras sideways. Others are cropping horizontally shot video to fit a vertical screen."



"Hiking through the hills above Otta, Norway, a town of 1,700 about a four-hour drive north of Oslo, a team from the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK realized it would have to take a new approach to filming the vistas for the interactive documentary it was creating.

As part of a company-wide effort to improve mobile strategy, the documentary — which focused on how Otta was adapting to a refugee center that opened in a shuttered hotel — was filmed vertically, using a camera rotated 90 degrees to the side. Staffers built a special grip to hold the camera steadily sideways.

“When you go up to the Norwegian mountains, it’s really beautiful, and you’re used to seeing the landscape in horizontal mode,” NRK’s Kim Jansson, who led the project, told me.

“You need to adjust your way of thinking. ‘OK, we need to cut off the left and right sides, what can we do to make it work vertically?’ We used trees to make people see how tall things are: How big the mountains are, how tall the buildings are,” he said. “You can get a different perspective. You just have to change your mind a little bit to see the opportunities that you don’t have when you’re filming horizontally.”

As mobile consumption continues to grow, news outlets — especially those publishing on Snapchat Discover — are turning to vertical video, a format that was once widely derided, to optimize their content for viewing on phones.

According to analyst Mary Meeker, users use vertically oriented devices nearly 30 percent of the time, up from just 5 percent in 2010. And more than 7 billion videos are viewed each day on Snapchat, which is specifically designed for vertical consumption.

But even as outlets ranging from National Geographic to Mashable and Vox create vertical videos, there’s no consensus on the best way to actually produce them. Some organizations, such as NRK, decided to rotate their cameras and film vertically, while others have decided to shoot the traditional horizontal way and then adapt the footage to fit a vertical screen."



"Mashable has decided its best bet is to just film horizontally. In its early days on Snapchat Discover, Mashable tried filming vertically by using a phone camera and by flipping a DSLR camera sideways. Later, it decided to shoot all its videos on a camera that’s oriented horizontally, said Mashable creative director Jeff Petriello.

“In terms of quality, and for the content to live on in as many forms as possible, shooting it on at least a 4K camera horizontal has proven to be the most efficient,” he said.

Petriello estimated that only a third of the vertical content Mashable creates actually requires a camera. The rest is created through animation and design using programs such as Adobe After Effects.

Vox also predominantly uses animations for its Snapchat Discover channel, and Yvonne Leow, Vox’s senior Snapchat editor, said there’s been “a bit of a learning curve” as Vox’s designers figured out the best ways to create graphics or other visualizations for a vertical screen.

When it does use live video on Snapchat Discover, Vox shoots horizontally. If Vox is shooting an in-studio interview, the videographer will frame the subject in the center of the frame so the video can be easily readjusted to a vertical orientation.

Vox also lays graphics over its interviews, and by using a center-focused shot, it’s able to adapt the graphics to the orientation of the final version.

The New York Times took this approach last year when it produced a video about the collaboration by Justin Bieber, Skrillex, and Diplo. It produced three different versions of the video — a 16:9 ratio for its own player and YouTube, 3:4 for tablets, and 9:16 for a vertical orientation on phones — and adjusted the graphics for each view.

Figuring out the best way to present vertical video on screens that aren’t phones can take a little ingenuity.

Mashable has published a handful of vertical videos outside of Snapchat Discover, and when they’re viewed on desktop, those videos are embedded in the left-hand column of a story.

For its interactive about the refugees, NRK, the Norwegian broadcaster, showed large quotes next to the vertical video when it was viewed on desktop.

But NRK estimated that 66 percent of viewers watched the videos on mobile, and the interactive was one of NRK’s most-consumed stories of 2015, even though it wasn’t published until the last week of December.

Jansson’s team is heading back into the field this month to begin its next vertical documentary. This time, they’ll try to add more motion into the video.

“There wasn’t a lot happening in the videos last time around,” he said. “We’re going to see if it’s possible to make that work a little bit better this time. But we’re going to do more or less the same thing. We’ve only done this once through, and we need more practice.”"
video  verticalvideo  portraitvideo  mobile  mobilefirst  2016  josephlichterman  snapchat  vox  mashable  nytimes  nationalgeographic  smartphones 
february 2016 by robertogreco
'Mobile reading revolution' takes off in developing world | Books | The Guardian
"Unesco study reports huge growth in adults and children reading books on phones in Africa and the Indian subcontinent"



"Unesco is pointing to a "mobile reading revolution" in developing countries after a year-long study found that adults and children are increasingly reading multiple books and stories on their phones.

Nearly 5,000 people in seven countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe – took part in the research, the largest study of its kind to date, which found that 62% of respondents are reading more, now they can read on their mobile phones. One in three said they read to children from their mobile phones, and 90% of respondents said they would be spending more time reading on their mobile phones in the next year.

The study, says Unesco in its report, found that "people read more when they read on mobile devices, that they enjoy reading more, and that people commonly read books and stories to children from mobile devices".

"The study shows that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilised, pathway to text," says the report, for which Unesco partnered with Worldreader – a global not-for-profit organisation that works to bring digital books to readers around the world – and Nokia. "It is not hyperbole to suggest that if every person on the planet understood that his or her mobile phone could be transformed – easily and cheaply – into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurdle to literacy."

The report's author Mark West said that the key conclusion from the study was that "mobile devices can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills".

"This is important because literacy opens the door to life-changing opportunities and benefits," said West.

Reasons given by respondents for reading on mobiles were convenience, affordability and lack of access to books. In Zimbabwe, for example, Unesco said the cost of reading a book on a mobile was between 5 and 6 cents, while a paperback bestseller would cost around $12 (£7); in Nigeria, a mobile book would cost around 1 or 2 cents, based on a mobile broadband rate of $13 per 500 MB of data, while a child's book would cost between $1 and $5.

Unesco pointed to data from the UN, which shows that of the seven billion people on earth, more than six billion now have access to a working mobile phone. "Collectively, mobile devices are the most ubiquitous information and communication technology in history," says Unesco. "More to the point, they are plentiful in places where books are scarce."

The most popular genre for readers was romance, the survey found, with the "romance" icon on Worldreader Mobile receiving 17% of all 730,787 clicks during the research period. Nineteen of the top 40 books read during the study period were romance novels, with Ravinder Singh's Can Love Happen Twice? the most popular book, followed by the Mills & Boon title The Price of Royal Duty in second, and the Bible in third.

Kwame Nkrumah's The Great African and Nnedi Okorafor's The Girl with the Magic Hands were also among the most read books between April and June 2013, with the most popular search terms over the period "sex", "Bible" and "biology". Chinua Achebe came in fourth, with "Things fall apart", ahead of "love" in fifth. Religion was the second most popular genre, said Unesco.

The survey also found that mobile reading is a "huge tool of empowerment for women", said Worldreader's Nadja Borovac. While 77% of mobile readers in developing countries are male, women spend an average of 207 minutes per month reading on their mobile phones, compared to men's 33 minutes. Unesco's report points out that in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is 23% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man, with the gap widening in the case of data-enabled phones. "Men use mobiles for reading most, but the most active readers are women," said Borovac.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents cited lack of content as the primary barrier to mobile reading, and a third said they were keen to read to their children from their mobiles if there were more child-friendly material available.

One respondent, Charles, a teacher in Zimbabwe, said he reads to his class from his mobile, and cited lack of printed content as his main reason for turning to his phone. "We live in a remote area where there are no libraries, and the books I have in my own small library are the ones which I have already read. So this is now giving me a chance to choose from a variety of fiction titles," he said.

Borovac said that mobile reading was "not a future phenomenon, but something which is happening today".

"It can really change people's lives," she said. "We work in countries where there is a serious shortage of books but where cell phones are plentiful ... We are hoping people will realise the potential of mobile reading [as a result of the report], and that governments and partners will get behind not only us but other organisations using mobile technology to help provide learning and books, and help improve literacy skills.""
mobile  reading  2014  africa  asia  india  ehtiopia  ghana  kenya  nigeria  pakistan  zimbabwe  unesco  ebooks  publishing 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Desktop Neo – rethinking the desktop interface for productivity.
"The desktop computer hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years. It’s still built on windows, folders and mouse input. But we have changed. We now use smartphones and tablets most of the time, since they are much easier to use.

The traditional desktop computer is struggling to adapt the simple interfaces of mobile devices while also keeping its focus on productivity. With people switching to mobile devices for mundane tasks, we have the opportunity to rethink the desktop computer with a focus on getting professional work done.

Neo is a conceptual desktop operating system interface that is built for todays people, needs and technologies. Visualized below are ideas that were designed to inspire and provoke discussions about the future of productive computing. I have no intention of taking this beyond the concept stage. However, I am putting my work out there hoping that people build upon it."
design  desktop  interface  mobile  ui  lennartziburski 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Website Obesity Crisis
"Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn't about any of those. It's about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.

While I'll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I’m not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.

The Crisis

What do I mean by a website obesity crisis?

Here’s an article on GigaOm from 2012 titled "The Growing Epidemic of Page Bloat". It warns that the average web page is over a megabyte in size.

The article itself is 1.8 megabytes long."


Here's an almost identical article from the same website two years later, called “The Overweight Web". This article warns that average page size is approaching 2 megabytes.

That article is 3 megabytes long.

If present trends continue, there is the real chance that articles warning about page bloat could exceed 5 megabytes in size by 2020.

The problem with picking any particular size as a threshold is that it encourages us to define deviancy down. Today’s egregiously bloated site becomes tomorrow’s typical page, and next year’s elegantly slim design.

I would like to anchor the discussion in something more timeless.

To repeat a suggestion I made on Twitter, I contend that text-based websites should not exceed in size the major works of Russian literature.

This is a generous yardstick. I could have picked French literature, full of slim little books, but I intentionally went with Russian novels and their reputation for ponderousness.

In Goncharov's Oblomov, for example, the title character spends the first hundred pages just getting out of bed.

If you open that tweet in a browser, you'll see the page is 900 KB big.
That's almost 100 KB more than the full text of The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov’s funny and enigmatic novel about the Devil visiting Moscow with his retinue (complete with a giant cat!) during the Great Purge of 1937, intercut with an odd vision of the life of Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ, and the devoted but unreliable apostle Matthew.

For a single tweet.

Or consider this 400-word-long Medium article on bloat, which includes the sentence:

"Teams that don’t understand who they’re building for, and why, are prone to make bloated products."

The Medium team has somehow made this nugget of thought require 1.2 megabytes.

That's longer than Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky’s psychological thriller about an impoverished student who fills his head with thoughts of Napoleon and talks himself into murdering an elderly money lender.
Racked by guilt, so rattled by his crime that he even forgets to grab the money, Raskolnikov finds himself pursued in a cat-and-mouse game by a clever prosecutor and finds redemption in the unlikely love of a saintly prostitute.

Dostoevski wrote this all by hand, by candlelight, with a goddamned feather."



"Everyone admits there’s a problem. These pages are bad enough on a laptop (my fan spun for the entire three weeks I was preparing this talk), but they are hell on mobile devices. So publishers are taking action.

In May 2015, Facebook introduced ‘Instant Articles’, a special format for news stories designed to appear within the Facebook site, and to load nearly instantly.

Facebook made the announcement on a 6.8 megabyte webpage dominated by a giant headshot of some dude. He doesn’t even work for Facebook, he’s just the National Geographic photo editor.

Further down the page, you'll find a 41 megabyte video, the only way to find out more about the project. In the video, this editor rhapsodizes about exciting misfeatures of the new instant format like tilt-to-pan images, which means if you don't hold your phone steady, the photos will drift around like a Ken Burns documentary.

Facebook has also launched internet.org, an effort to expand Internet access. The stirring homepage includes stories of people from across the developing world, and what getting Internet access has meant for them.
You know what’s coming next. When I left the internet.org homepage open in Chrome over lunch, I came back to find it had transferred over a quarter gigabyte of data.

Surely, you'll say, there's no way the globe in the background of a page about providing universal web access could be a giant video file?

But I am here to tell you, oh yes it is. They load a huge movie just so the globe can spin.

This is Facebook's message to the world: "The internet is slow. Sit and spin."

And it's not like bad connectivity is a problem unique to the Third World! I've traveled enough here in Australia to know that in rural places in Tasmania and Queensland, vendors treat WiFi like hundred-year-old brandy.

You're welcome to buy as much of it as you want, but it costs a fortune and comes in tiny portions. And after the third or fourth purchase, people start to look at you funny.

Even in well-connected places like Sydney, we've all had the experience of having a poor connection, and almost no battery, while waiting for some huge production of a site to load so we can extract a morsel of information like a restaurant address.

The designers of pointless wank like that Facebook page deserve the ultimate penalty.
They should be forced to use the Apple hockey puck mouse for the remainder of their professional lives. [shouts of horror from the audience]

Google has rolled out a competitor to Instant Articles, which it calls Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is a special subset of HTML designed to be fast on mobile devices.

Why not just serve regular HTML without stuffing it full of useless crap? The question is left unanswered.

The AMP project is ostentatiously open source, and all kinds of publishers have signed on. Out of an abundance of love for the mobile web, Google has volunteered to run the infrastructure, especially the user tracking parts of it.

Jeremy Keith pointed out to me that the page describing AMP is technically infinite in size. If you open it in Chrome, it will keep downloading the same 3.4 megabyte carousel video forever.
If you open it in Safari, where the carousel is broken, the page still manages to fill 4 megabytes.

These comically huge homepages for projects designed to make the web faster are the equivalent of watching a fitness video where the presenter is just standing there, eating pizza and cookies.

The world's greatest tech companies can't even make these tiny text sites, describing their flagship projects to reduce page bloat, lightweight and fast on mobile.

I can't think of a more complete admission of defeat."



"The other vision is of the web as Call of Duty—an exquisitely produced, kind-of-but-not-really-participatory guided experience with breathtaking effects and lots of opportunities to make in-game purchases.

Creating this kind of Web requires a large team of specialists. No one person can understand the whole pipeline, nor is anyone expected to. Even if someone could master all the technologies in play, the production costs would be prohibitive.

The user experience in this kind of Web is that of being carried along, with the illusion of agency, within fairly strict limits. There's an obvious path you're supposed to follow, and disincentives to keep you straying from it. As a bonus, the game encodes a whole problematic political agenda. The only way to reject it is not to play.

Despite the lavish production values, there's a strange sameness to everything. You're always in the same brown war zone.

With great effort and skill, you might be able make minor modifications to this game world. But most people will end up playing exactly the way the publishers intend. It's passive entertainment with occasional button-mashing.

Everything we do to make it harder to create a website or edit a web page, and harder to learn to code by viewing source, promotes that consumerist vision of the web.

Pretending that one needs a team of professionals to put simple articles online will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Overcomplicating the web means lifting up the ladder that used to make it possible for people to teach themselves and surprise everyone with unexpected new ideas

Here's the hortatory part of the talk:

Let’s preserve the web as the hypertext medium it is, the only thing of its kind in the world, and not turn it into another medium for consumption, like we have so many examples of already.

Let’s commit to the idea that as computers get faster, and as networks get faster, the web should also get faster.

Let’s not allow the panicked dinosaurs of online publishing to trample us as they stampede away from the meteor. Instead, let's hide in our holes and watch nature take its beautiful course.

Most importantly, let’s break the back of the online surveillance establishment that threatens not just our livelihood, but our liberty. Not only here in Australia, but in America, Europe, the UK—in every free country where the idea of permanent, total surveillance sounded like bad science fiction even ten years ago.

The way to keep giant companies from sterilizing the Internet is to make their sites irrelevant. If all the cool stuff happens elsewhere, people will follow. We did this with AOL and Prodigy, and we can do it again.

For this to happen, it's vital that the web stay participatory. That means not just making sites small enough so the whole world can visit them, but small enough so that people can learn to build their own, by example.

I don't care about bloat because it's inefficient. I care about it because it makes the web inaccessible.

Keeping the Web simple keeps it awesome."
pagebloat  webdesign  maciejceglowski  2015  webdev  participatory  openweb  internet  web  online  minecraft  accessibility  efficiency  aesthetics  cloud  cloudcomputing  amazonwebservices  backend  paypal  google  docker  websites  wired  theverge  medium  javascript  advertising  ads  acceleratedmobilepages  mobile  html  facebook  freebasics  jeremykeith  timkadlec  internet.org  facebookinstantarticles  maciejcegłowski 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Time to get serious about chat apps » Nieman Journalism Lab
“For users, why worry of a more feudal Internet when you can send amazing stickers to select groups of friends? For publishers, you get a direct connection with an untapped audience, with your updates dinging on their phones.”



"WeChat, WhatsApp, Line, and their brethren never played a big role in my daily life until I moved to Asia earlier this year. The extent to which they became indispensable, because communication happens almost exclusively inside their ecosystems, exposed a missed opportunity for Western news organizations. But I expect that to change. 2016 is the year we’ll see more media companies get serious about chat apps.

Chat apps have reached stunning scale across the world — 650 million active monthly unique users on WeChat, and at least that many on WhatsApp. For the many publishers who now capitalize on social sharing, these platforms do more than facilitate chat; they provide a captive audience for updates, one-to-one communication, and payments. (On WeChat, users can not just send money, but book doctor’s appointments, hail cabs, and more.) The engagement possibilities are rife for exploration, and chat apps have young, growing user bases that aren’t being met by Western news sources.

BuzzFeed and BBC are among the players already present on these platforms, but we’re past time far more news publishers — some with the world’s leading data, interactive, and visual news offerings — to find a place in chat apps, too. There’s a compelling reason to be there just for the types of audiences they reach (young, global and growing), but perhaps even more importantly, for the insight these apps can offer about our communications present and future. Even if WeChat, Line, or KakaoTalk never take hold in the United States, experimentation and learning from just trying stuff on chat apps will prepare news organizations for the similar players that will. (Facebook has already signaled it’s following WeChat and Kakao’s lead, by offering Uber hailing inside its Messenger app. What features will follow?)

I realize these are closed networks. Part of WeChat’s popularity is a consequence of China’s great firewall, since it blocks social media most commonly used in the West. Like every other user of WeChat, I trade away any notion of privacy in the deal I make for speed and ease of communication. So it is with KakaoTalk, the messenger with 93 percent penetration rate among smartphone users in South Korea. It’s no secret it turns over private user data to the government.

At the same time, these closed networks also feel intimate. For users, why worry of a more feudal Internet when you can send amazing stickers to select groups of friends? For publishers, you get a direct connection with an untapped audience, with your updates dinging on their phones. It’s also an opportunity to challenge the very order you’d burrow into: Principle-driven news organizations with stories calling out governments, corporations and other institutions of power ought to help inform the huge numbers of readers and viewers inside these walled gardens.

Since we’re in this business partly because we believe news and information are vital, Western media will miss out if we aren’t exploring this mobile chat terrain, reaching the billion-plus on chat apps with information needs that deserve to be met. And the possibilities for us to learn from being there may be as abundant as the audiences."
2015  elisehu  wechat  whatsapp  lineapp  journalism  messaging  communication  socialmedia  kakaotalk  china  mobile  chat 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Field Day Lab | Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
"We are a truly interdisciplinary team of educational researchers, software engineers, artists, and storytellers, exploring the intersection of contemporary learning science and media design, specializing in mobile media, video games, and simulation. Central to our educational philosophy is the process of learning through making. Why give people games when they can create games? We believe in keeping our tools free and open source, inspiring collaborative grassroots user communities and a robust network of educators and students iterating on one another’s designs. Seeking to do what’s never been done before, we constantly innovate, play, take risks, and mess-make."

[via: https://medium.com/@fielddaylab/why-situated-learning-matters-6129fd2afeaa#.qukm20mxa ]

[See also: http://wid.wisc.edu/programs/fielddaylab/platforms/ ]
education  fieldstudies  arislearning  mobile  learning  opensource  technology  edtech  game  gaming  simulation  mediadesign  fielddaylab 
december 2015 by robertogreco
WhatsApp Is How Facebook Will Dominate the World | WIRED
"HERE IN NORTH America, mobile Internet traffic is dominated by YouTube and Facebook. So says Sandvine, a company with an unusually good view of the world’s Internet activity. YouTube accounts for nearly 20 percent of all mobile traffic, and Facebook tops 16 percent.

This is what you’d expect. Streaming video from a service like YouTube eats up more network bandwidth than any other type of online application, and in recent years, our smartphones and wireless networks have matured to the point where watching video from a handheld device is a common thing. Facebook is a social networking service, and video is now a primary part of the way people use it.

But the situation elsewhere in the world may surprise you. Take Africa, for instance. In terms of mobile traffic, the continent’s most dominant service is a tool that many in the US haven’t even heard of: WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is the smartphone messaging app Facebook bought for about $22 billion last year, and according to Sandvine—which helps big ISPs monitor and manage all the bits moving across their networks—it accounts for nearly 11 percent of all traffic to and from mobile devices in Africa.

This shows just how popular WhatsApp is across the continent, in large part because it lets people exchange texts without paying big fees to carriers. And it shows that people are using the service for more than just texting. Like other messaging services, it’s a way of trading photos and videos, too. And this year, the company expanded the service so it can make Internet phone calls, echoing services like Skype. According to Dan Deeth—the author of a new report from Sandvine on Internet traffic trends—those high traffic numbers reflect a shift towards voice calling as well as photo and video sharing.

“It’s a mix,” he says. “The texting is the smallest part. Once you get into photos and sending videos to each other and voice calling, that’s when traffic really starts to creep up.”

[image]

Differences in Evolution

In a larger sense, this shows that the Internet is evolving differently in the developing world than it has here in the US. Because network and phone technologies aren’t as mature—and because people have less money to spend on tech—low-bandwidth messaging apps like WhatsApp have become a primary gateway onto the Internet as whole. In Africa, web browsing accounts for 22 percent of mobile traffic, about twice as much as WhatsApp. But no other individual service is even close to WhatsApp’s numbers. Not YouTube. Not BitTorrent. Not Facebook."

[via: "On what makes WhatsApp popular in low-income countries. But the piece overlooks stability. http://www.wired.com/2015/12/new-stats-show-whatsapp-is-how-facebook-will-dominate-the-world/ "
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674604771177717761

"WhatsApp is stable and useable under very low/mixed bandwidth conditions. Unlike WeChat and Line it works well on small screens too."
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674605226914000896

"Examples re WhatsApp: message queuing when you're offline; low bandwidth mode for voice calls (audio compression)" "@anxiaostudio Wow how do they optimize for the low bandwidth conditions?" https://twitter.com/judemwenda/status/674605980634783745 ""
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674608959026675713

"The message queue in WhatsApp shouldn't be overlooked. Most messaging apps give you a permanent error when your note doesn't go through."
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674609623236673536

"The little clock next to your note is an assurance from WhatsApp: we'll send this as soon as we can (i.e., you have a connection again)"
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674609934135263233 ]
whatsapp  2015  facebook  messaging  mobile  phones  stability  bandwidth  usability  ux  applications  smartphones  connectivity  networking  communication  offline  voicecalls  compression  audiocompression 
december 2015 by robertogreco
These students learn through text message instead of textbook - Home | Spark with Nora Young | CBC Radio
"Eneza Education is a for-profit company that offers educational tools to students in Kenya through text message.  In a country (and continent) where cellphone penetration is high but internet access is low, they offer a virtual tutor that students can access through a low cost mobile phone. 

Toni Maraviglia is the co-founder & CEO of Eneza Education. She talks to Nora about the 500,000 students already taking courses with Eneza."
texts  texting  kenya  education  sms  eneza  mobile  phones  cellphones  tonimaraviglia 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Zero Rating: A Modest Proposal | Many Possibilities
[via: https://twitter.com/janchip/status/671018395161128960 ]

"Imagine a world where all phones were automatically connected to the Internet, at no charge. Is this an idle fantasy?

The current worldwide debate about Zero-Rating and Network Neutrality has brought the issue of affordable Internet access into sharp relief. I recently came back from the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Brazil where there were no less than seven sessions on Zero Rating and Network Neutrality. Internet.org, now renamed as Free Basics, continues to be a subject of often emotional debate as to whether it brings greater benefits or harms to those who use it.

This has got me thinking about how we value the Internet and how fast the Internet needs to be in order to qualify as ‘enough’. In one of his sessions at the IGF, Vint Cerf pointed out that we use the word Internet as if it meant the same thing to everyone but this isn’t really true. A feature-phone user browsing the Internet via Opera over a 3G connection does not have the same experience as the San Francisco-based developer on gigabit fibre staring at his/her dual 26 inch monitors.

The “all bits are created equal” debate in Network Neutrality doesn’t really take into account our varied experiences of Internet. On a personal level, it is clear that some bits are more valuable to us than others. A one or a zero that indicates whether your loved one is alive is worth infinitely more than four gigabytes of the latest Hollywood movie.

This leads me to question the assumption, implicit in most national broadband strategies, that the value of Internet increases more or less proportionately with increase in speed. The reality is that even very tiny amounts of data can be enormously valuable and that the value of access goes up dramatically with even a little access and then tapers off.

From a value maximisation perspective then one might conclude that it is more strategic to make a priority of ensuring that everyone has at least some connectivity as opposed to some percentage of the people getting fast Internet.

This got me thinking about the spread of mobile telephony in sub-Saharan Africa. The Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) model implemented by mobile network operators (MNOs) meant that it didn’t cost any money to be part of the network. All phones with a SIM card automatically register on the network and are callable on the network. A credit on the network is not required. Why has this turned out to be a such a phenomenally successful model? Because MNOs recognised that each and every person connected to the network added value to the network whether they made a call or not because they increased the size of the callable network, thereby increasing value to paying users. This phenomenon is known as network effect and while it may have been a somewhat esoteric concept twenty years ago when the mobile industry started, it is now well understood by any Internet entrepreneur.

Registering and managing non-paying customers on the phone network is a significant operational and financial overhead for MNOs, especially now with mandatory SIM registration being more common. Connecting phones to the network for free has obviously proven to be worthwhile. The increase in size of the overall network also helps to transform those non-paying users into paying ones as they see more and more value from the increased number of people to connect to. It is a positive cycle.

This brings me back to an approach I suggested last year: low-bitrate, generic zero-rating. What if it were normal for all MNOs to offer low-bitrate, generic Internet access in the same manner that all MNOs connect phones to their network? Let’s imagine that Internet data were enabled by default for free at GSM (2G) speeds of only 9.6kbps to all users. Let’s also imagine that it is a best-effort service that might not always achieve that speed or may have terrible latency, a bit like real 2G service.

A million users consuming 2G at a modest 4.8kbps would consume about 4.8gbps per second of capacity. Looking at the adult population of South Africa of roughly 35M people, if everyone were consuming that data on their phones at one time, it would amount to 168 gbps of capacity across the entire country. Let’s put this in the context of South Africa’s undersea fibre optic cable capacity, which currently has an aggregate design capacity of 17 tbps, soon to reach 22 tbps when the ACE cable lands. Free 2G data for all would consume less than 0.01% of the design capacity of the international submarine cables landing in South Africa.

That is a very rough and inevitably flawed calculation. It doesn’t take into account whether the existing mobile networks could handle this capacity with their current spectrum allocations and technology. It also doesn’t take into account backhaul limitations where terrestrial fibre is not available. But we do know that MNOs are actively investing in upgrading their networks, which would make this amount of data an increasingly small percentage of their network traffic. But the value to individuals would not diminish. Generic low-speed zero-rating of mobile networks could have multiple impacts. It would:

• Spur adoption of data services. As Clay Shirky has so eloquently put it, “If things are expensive to try, people will hold back from trying them and they’ll spend all their time trying not to fail. If the cost of experimentation falls though, and I mean falls precipitously, then people will spend a lot of time experimenting, and instead of not failing, the goal becomes to fail informatively to learn something from the things you tried.”

• Legitimise data as a means of government/civic communication. If everyone can access basic data services just by having a feature/smartphone, then it is easier to justify government investment in e-services.

• Decrease the digital divide. Democratising access to data through free low-bitrate access would create a true on-ramp to the Internet and its vast diversity of services and interactions.

• Open up vast new markets to data service providers. The network-effects of millions of new data users would dramatically increase the value of data services in general.

• Spur innovation in low data consumption applications. If you know that you can reach *everyone* at a very low speed, it would spur both the public and private sector to develop applications that consume less bandwidth in order to reach more people. Indeed Facebook is already doing this with their application development.

I’ve asked you to imagine a world where mobile phones connect to the Internet in the same way that they simply connect to the mobile phone network, where there are no data charges for very low data speeds. On the surface at least it would seem that the benefits to both the public and private sector would dramatically outweigh the costs of doing this. If we accept that the value of access is not directly proportional to speed of access and that there is huge value in even small amounts of data access, then perhaps a national strategy ought to focus on getting everyone connected at a modest, free rate as opposed to say 80% of the people at say 2Mbps?

It will take more detailed cost modelling to really dig into this idea but I cannot help but think of more consumer benefits at every turn. Even for globe-trotting travellers. Imagine being able to pick up basic text messages and emails as soon as you get off the plane in a new country without having to search for a WiFi hotspot or wonder whether you dare turn on roaming. Always-on mobile data could open up new possibilities for mobile payment services.

Some operators like T-mobile in the US already offer 2G roaming but only for postpaid customers. What if it just made good social and economic sense to have basic rate Internet enabled for all mobile phones?"
zero-rating  freebasics  facebook  affordability  access  accessibility  internet  web  online  mobile  stevesong  2015  netneutrality 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Taking Free Basics in Kenya for a spin. — Hacks/Hackers Africa — Medium
[via: https://twitter.com/janchip/status/669071409851707398 and https://twitter.com/whiteafrican/status/669017213572145152 ]

"I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. At my organisation, we believe in having user experience at the heart of consumer-facing technology. Also, I’ve heard many a Facebook exec counter the backlash with a valid question: how many advocates (for/against) have actually used Free Basics? So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I dug out my Airtel Kenya SIM card (Airtel is the current sole partner) and took the app for a spin. (For the record, I’m testing out Free Basics on a Smartphone — a Samsung Galaxy S3 to be precise, will also test out on a feature phone in coming days)."



"Facebook have been saying that at least 50% of Free Basics users have crossed over to the open and paid-for Internet within 30 days of coming online for the first time. Having pushed a bit further on the stat recently, one of their Heads of Policy said that they stay on the paid Internet, though this isn’t part of the popular narrative on the conversion rates. Who else, other than Facebook, has access to these statistics? Giving the benefit of the doubt, say the statistic is actually true. What norms about what the Internet is, does Free Basics (un)willingly postulate? Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t create a two-tiered Internet and refers to the above statistic. They also say that without such a program, more people are left offline, unable to realise the benefits of the Internet.

We all want as many people, if not all to be connected. But the idea of a ‘free’ Internet is a particularly nefarious one, leaving room for loopholes such as these, and actually creating various tiers to Internet access. This has been compared to tiered access to water and education. While some may say that some water or education is better than none, why is it that there are different forms to access? So some Internet is better than none at all (especially for the developing world). But, what constitutes ‘some Internet’? Who decides on what ‘some Internet’ is, and why are they the ones to decide?

There are many arguments packed into the zero-rating, net neutrality and Free Basics discussions, and it wouldn’t do justice to pack them into one article. I will try to tackle the various domains, from my perspective, in future posts.

Would love to conduct this exercise with first time Internet users. Currently thinking through the research design, to enable unearthing of insights on the Internet they aspire to access, versus versions such as Free Basics issued. For now, I welcome discussion and feedback on the above, and perhaps others to take Free Basics on a spin in their respective territories! After all, advocacy for a free(as in freedom), open and secure Internet will require evidence and not mere opinion."
freebasics  facebook  accessibility  internet  nanjirasambuli  2015  africa  access  online  web  kenya  smarthphones  mobile  connectivity  netneutrality 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Designing for new cellphone users in Burma - Home | Spark with Nora Young | CBC Radio
"Just a few years ago, cellphones were a rarity reserved for the elite in Burma (also known as Myanmar). But now, they've exploded in popularity.

Spark checks in with a design team working on a digital communications tool for rural farmers there. Lauren Serota and Taiei Harimoto talk about how, because so many people in Burma are new to cell technology, they don't have the biases the rest of us have built up about how the technology is "supposed" to work. We also learn about novel uses for cellphones as income generators, and in the recent election.

[via: ". @ProximityDesign design lead Taiei & @studio_d_rad design director @serota in this interview on mobile Myanmar http://www.cbc.ca/1.3338850 "
https://twitter.com/janchip/status/671924902069432320

"Myanmar is leapfrogging: People use Viber for calling and Facebook for messaging with no precedent for telephony. http://cbc.ca/1.3338850 "
https://twitter.com/janchip/status/672662678121353216

"In Myanmar, we don’t need to abide by design patterns that have been set by 30 years of digital technology.” http://cbc.ca/1.3338850 "
https://twitter.com/janchip/status/672662464518049792

"Designing services unencumbered by legacy technologies, such as telephones, banks, stable electricity, y'know that kind of stuff."
https://twitter.com/janchip/status/671925842319179777 ]
mobile  phones  myanmar  burma  2015  cellphones  telephony  leapfrogging  technology  viber  facebook  messaging  voicecalls 
december 2015 by robertogreco
OMG! In Text Messages, Punctuation Conveys Meaning - Pacific Standard
"The Oxford English Dictionary's recent announced that its 2015 "word" of the year is an emoji confirmed that texting is indeed creating a whole new ... not language, exactly, but certainly a distinctive dialect. This extremely abbreviated means of expression clearly requires shortcuts: symbols, either new or re-purposed, that convey the sender's meaning or intention.

A Binghamton University research team has apparently identified one such indicator: Whether or not you put a period at the end of a reply.

In the journal Computers in Human Behavior, researchers led by psychologist Celia Klin report that college students perceive text messages that end with a period to be less sincere than ones that do not.

That sincerely baffles me.

The study featured 126 undergraduates, who read a series of exchanges that appeared as either text messages or handwritten notes. The "text messages" were printed on pictures of cell phones; the "handwritten notes" were printed on pictures of loose-leaf paper.

"Punctuation is one of the cues used by senders, and understood by receivers, to convey pragmatic and social information."

The experimental exchanges featured an invitation that was phrased as a question ("Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?"), followed by a one-word response such as "Yeah" or "Sure." For each of the 16 exchanges, participants either read a version in which the response ended with a period, or an alternate version in which it was not punctuated.

After reading each exchange, participants rated the sincerity of the receiver's response on a scale of one to seven.

The result: Text messages that ended with a period were rated less sincere than those that did not. This was not true of handwritten notes. "These results indicate that punctuation influenced the perceived meaning of the text messages," the researchers write.

Now, communicating effectively when you can't hear a person's tone of voice, see their facial expression, or note the nuances contained in longer written messages can be tricky; it was inevitable that indicators of emotion would evolve into existence. But why this one?

I can only guess that, for some people (the researchers note the size of the effect was "modest"), a sentence ending in a period suggests the other person put at least a little time and effort into composing their reply. If you take time to consider your answer, it opens the possibility of mendacity. In contrast, if you answer spontaneously and informally, the message presumably reflects your instantaneous gut response—which is honest by definition.

Wisely, the researchers do not weigh in on that question. "Our claim is not so much that the period is used to convey a lack of sincerity in text messages," they write, "but that punctuation is one of the cues used by senders, and understood by receivers, to convey pragmatic and social information."

"Our data indicate that people are able to include in their texts the types of non-verbal cues that are present in face-to-face conversation."

So, next time you are texting, pay attention to the punctuation you use, or don't use. Chances are that even small choices convey specific meanings. And if they don't reflect what you're trying to say, the LOL is on you."

[See also: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/12/08/study-confirms-that-ending-your-texts-with-a-period-is-terrible/]
texting  punctuation  messaging  periods  language  meaning  mobile  phones  emoji  sincerity  tomjacobs  howwewrite 
november 2015 by robertogreco
SELFIE — Matter — Medium
"Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd. I look upon hundreds of faces every day and I feel refreshed. I feel refreshed by watching other people look upon those same faces, and so on. This second-order looking, this swelling communal river, is the aspect of selfies we need to fight to protect by not shaming those who take them. If you are afraid of wading into this river, if you feel there is nothing to see there, then selfies might not be meant for you.

And just to put it on the record, to make things clear, here are some of the other people who selfies are not for:

• Men who want to police what women can do with their bodies, when they are allowed to love themselves, all under the guise of “being concerned.” About what, exactly? Exploitation? Identity theft? The ogling of other men? This isn’t necessary! Concern is little more than a smokescreen for policing women’s behavior. Concern is both oppressive and nefarious.

• Women who claim to be feminists but then use their feminism as a weapon against selfies, writing blog posts about how duckfaces undermine efforts for equality. The women writing these posts are trying to separate themselves from the kind of women who would kiss the camera, not realizing that the binary they enforce — the good feminists, the bad feminists — is one that has been handed down to them by the powerful in order to keep women at each other’s throats for so long that they forget to overtake the patriarchy.

• Members of the media establishment who view a thick network of people who don’t need them (because selfie communities are making the beauty-industrial complex set up by magazines and Hollywood look wobbly and exclusionary) to be a tremendous threat. See also: members of the press who are afraid of citizens who don’t need the media’s cameras to be seen, their microphones to be heard, or their publications to have a voice.

• Anyone who says “All Lives Matter,” who doesn’t see that certain faces that have been long absent from the dominant visual history now need to be celebrated, that these faces self-reproducing en masse is now completely vital to their survival, that selfies can become protective shields against violence and hatred.

• Those who fear youth rather than struggling to understand it, who forget that they were once young, insecure, and lonesome, and who have maybe grown up to be old, insecure, and lonesome, resenting the ever-strengthening community that selfies are building.

• Those who censor selfies, who flag women’s nudes from Instagram for removal (for more on this, read Petra Collins odd story of having her selfie removed without her consent), whose puritanical way of seeing doesn’t allow for bodies to invade their world unless they can be in charge of them, who see naked bodies as anarchy.

• Those who harbor the creeping dystopian fear that when the robots take over they will recognize us by our selfies. These sci-fi concerns do not outweigh the current benefits of a life lived unafraid, of how powerful it feels to stare down a camera lens and press send. The known dangers of remaining unseen are far worse than those that might come out of risking it, of being brave now.

• Those who have never shared a selfie but are adamant that it “isn’t for them” that they don’t see why anyone would ever do this. These people are willfully walking away from discovering a place where identities are distinct from that of the oppressors. They are making a choice. It is not a crime to not take selfies; there are many ways to live and be happy. I repeat: you do not have to take them! But it is detrimental to speak of them in the language of stigma. This only bolsters the sense of dishonor around the act of taking a selfie, discourages people from ever entering into a practice, and into a community, that may very well save their life.

***

But there are millions of people who selfies are for. There are millions who use them, love them, and are loyal to them — these are the people talked to, emailed with, gazed at, and become a fan of while scrolling through my feeds, the people I have watched being watched. These are the people who find comfort and life force in their selfies, and who give the most to the community in return. These are the bodies that you tear down when you are afraid of them, these are the lives at stake.

• The geeky middle-schooler who is bullied in class, but has finally found his people online, who flashes peace signs into his camera while riding home on the bus.

• The girl who has just been heartbroken, who has been left, getting to wave a middle finger at the camera and at her anger, and find 100 people who will rush to her side. Every double-tap heals her heart, toughens the muscle.

• The survivor of domestic abuse, who was verbally assaulted and made to feel like nothing, and who is crawling back from that hurt by allowing other people to tell her that she is more than just her pain, that she looks radiant, glowing, free.

• The cancer patient who takes selfies in chemotherapy, documenting the tufts of hair as they fall out, who wants the world to know that they were brave, that they faced death with a wink, that they did not want to be forgotten.

• The Syrian migrants who have found comfort in selfies on their treacherous route through the Balkans, and who are challenging the world to see them as humans running from violence, even as countries and states continue to close their borders to them. Selfies are extremely effective tools for displaced people or people living in perilous conditions to reconfirm their humanity; it is easy to ignore a sea of faces, but difficult to turn away from just one, staring with hope and sorrow into the camera, searching for sanctuary.

• The world-famous pop star who is sick of being ripped apart by magazine profiles and talk show interviews and who knows that the candid portraits she takes of herself backstage get beamed directly to her fans, who are increasingly learning to check their idols’ feeds rather than gossip columns for the real dish. Beyoncé hasn’t given an interview in years, and she may never need to do so again.

• The teen recovering from anorexia who takes pictures of herself finishing burgers, bacon, green tea ice cream; who finds a community of others in recovery who encourage each other to eat, to get well, to aspire to fullness.

• The middle-aged dad who starts Snapchatting to commune with his kids instead of remain mystified by them, and finds out that he has never really looked at himself with fondness, not until now.

• The off-duty fashion model who just wants to be seen as a real girl for once, who crams fries into her mouth, a slovenly, gangly imp in a dirty sweatshirt.

• The teen with vibrant pastel hair who has found a place where they fit in, where they get encouragement as their body changes, where they get to be present and excited and to come out as transgender, where they get to begin living more fully as their authentic self.

• The woman who decides to photograph herself naked, to leak her own nudes, who decides to revel in her curves before anyone can take that joy away from her.

• The teens who are finding each other on Instagram and Tumblr, creating “image collectives,” like the Art Hoe movement, where “nonconforming gender teens are positioning themselves in front of famous art pieces from old masters to abstractionists to ‘raise questions about the historical representation of people of color in art.’” Teen stars like Willow Smith and Amandla Stenberg have joined in, causing #arthoe to explode and continue to challenge the we study and view art history. Because of movements like these, young people may now grow up in a world where they set the visual agenda, where they know how to challenge the art that is shown to them as important, and offer up a new iconography of beauty that both undermines the exclusive canon and rewrites the academic syllabus.

• The autistic child who starts taking selfies on his iPad, who finds a way to unlock his inner chambers by capturing his outer self, who finds a place in the vibrant Tumblr autism selfie community, where thousands of people post new pictures every week, trying to reach out and connect where words may fail them.
The old widow who has found an entire community full of people who will call her beautiful now that her husband cannot.

• The millions of people who do not fit the mold for what capitalism defines as physical perfection, whose skin or height or gender or personal aesthetic might have kept them out of the hallowed halls of Those Who Get To Be Seen before selfies existed, those who would not have seen themselves in photo albums a decade ago because no one ever wanted to take their picture, those who go their own way. I have seen people of every color and shape and pronoun beloved in their own online lands, the heroes of their own stories. I have watched, off to the side, scrolling through this kaleidoscope of faces, as they rack up likes and admirers and accolades, as they become icons to the exact people they hope to reach. I have seen them find each other and stick together. I have learned entirely new vocabularies for how to look, for where to look. And there is always, always more to learn.

***

This is the radical potential to selfies. This is what I think about most when I take them, when I channel women of the past, when I think about Julia and Clover and Frida and Francesca, when I think about all the people who wanted so badly to be seen but were born too soon to ever have an @ handle of their own.

I wish, all the time, my great-grandmothers (women I never knew; a gentle seamstress, a boisterous lawyer’s wife) could have taken a million selfies. I feel like I owe it to them and to those who feel unseen now, to keep posting, to keep sharing, to keep liking, to keep seeking out new faces to like. I feel that I am, that we all are, writing our own history with every… [more]
selfies  rachelsyme  2015  photography  history  ussies  juliamargaretcameron  marianhooperadams  francescawoodman  shaming  portraiture  socialmedia  mockery  power  gender  essenao'neill  social  bodies  sexism  teens  youth  hate  mobile  phones  society  culture  technology  applications  instagram  tumblr  depression  identity  capitalism  self-image  art  snapchat  oppression  judgement  media  feminism  behavior  multiliteracies  body 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Imperial Designs | The Unforgiving Minute
[via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667000828113260544 ]

"[image]

Here’s an example: the Chand Baori Stepwell in Rajasthan, built in the 8th and 9th centuries. (You can watch a video about Chand Baori, and another about stepwells, based on an article by journalist Victoria Lautman.) Stepwells were a critical part of water management, particularly in western India and other dry areas of Asia, the earliest known stepwell forms date from around 600AD. The Mughal empire encouraged stepwell construction, but the administrators British empire decided that stepwells should be replaced with pumped and piped water systems modelled on those developed in the UK – a ‘superior’ system. It was of course also a system that moved from a communal and social model of water management to a centralised model of water management – and the British loved centralised management, because it’s easier to control.

[image]

Here’s another model of water management – the Playpump, which received a lot of media attention and donor support after it was proposed in 2005. The basic idea was that kids playing on the big roundabout would pump water up from the well for the whole village. This doesn’t seem very imperial at first sight: it looks like these kids are having fun, and the village is getting water. Unfortunately it was a massive failure because it flat out didn’t work, although the Playpumps organisation is still around; if you want to know more about that failure, read this article in the Guardian and this lessons learned from the Case Foundation, and listen to this Frontline radio show on PBS. TL;DR: the Playpump didn’t work because it was designed by outsiders who didn’t understand the communities: a classic case of design imperialism. There are lots of examples just like this, where the failure is easy to see but the imperialism is more difficult to spot.

About 5 years ago there was a big hoo-hah about an article called “Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism?” by Bruce Nussbaum. Nussbaum accused people and organisations working on design that would alleviate poverty as yet another imperial effort. This depends on defining “empire” as a power relationship – an unequal power relationship, where the centre holds the power (and resources) and the periphery will benefit from those resources only when the centre decides to give it to them. At the time, there was a lot of discussion around this idea, but that discussion has died now. That’s not because it’s no longer an issue: it’s because a new imperial model, more subtle than Nussbaum’s idea, has successfully taken root, and few people in the design world even realise it."



"Q&A:

During the talk I mentioned that I was planning to show video of robot dogs, but I didn’t because they freak me out. They don’t really freak me out – I think they’re astonishing feats of technology – but what they say about our attitudes towards warfare worries me. They’re being built by Boston Dynamics, who started out under military contracts from DARPA, have recently been acquired by Google X, and who post a ton of promo videos. Particularly funny is this supercut video of robots falling over.

One question raised the issue of whether our education system enables people to recognise the trap that they might be in, and give them the tools to make their own way. The short answer is no. The industrial model of education is not equipped for the 21st century, although I remain hopeful that the internet will also disrupt education as it has other sectors. At the same time I am sceptical of the impact of the most-hyped projects (such as the Khan Academy and the wide range of MOOCs) – it seems to me that we need something that learns from a wider range of educational approaches.

We also discussed whether there is an underlying philosophy to the invisible empire of the internet. I believe that there is, although it isn’t necessarily made explicit. One early artefact of this philosophy is A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace; one early analysis of aspects of it is The Californian Ideology. Evgeny Morozov is interesting on this topic, but with a pinch of salt, since in a relatively short time he has gone from incisive commentator to intellectual troll. It’s interesting that a few Silicon Valley big beasts are trained in philosophy, although to be honest this training doesn’t seem to be reflected in their actual philosophy."

[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/nov/24/africa-charity-water-pumps-roundabouts
via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667031543416623105 ]
designimperialism  design  via:tealtan  humanitariandesign  2015  africa  paulcurrion  control  colonialism  technology  technosolutionism  evgenymorozov  siliconvalley  philosophy  politics  mooc  moocs  doublebind  education  bostondynamics  googlex  darpa  robots  yuvalnoahharari  californianideology  wikihouse  globalconstructionset  3dprinting  disobedientobjects  anarchism  anarchy  legibility  internet  online  web  nezaralsayyad  smarthphones  mobile  phones  benedictevans  migration  refugees  fiveeyes  playpumps  water  chandbaori  trevorpaglen 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Failures of Our Global Imagination | Civicist
"The problem with first world problems, and why we need to shift the way we talk about global tech"



"It’s time to abandon the First World/Third World dichotomy. Whether or not this dichotomy was a helpful one at some point in the past, it’s no longer helpful now. The “Third World” has glittering skyscrapers and glowing smartphones, and the “First World” has decaying neighborhoods and entire swaths of the country without broadband. There are very real and important differences between rich and poor countries, and these dynamics play out at the level of international relations, all the way down to the mundane and often humiliating work of applying for visas. But this framing creates a divide that limits our capacity to understand the vast spectra of the way human beings live in the 21st century. I don’t yet have a better vocabulary for this, but I hope someone smarter than me can figure that out. For now, I do use the phrases “developing world,” “global south,” and “poor countries,” but I’d like to have a better framework. Any suggestions?

Remember the diversity of ways we use communications technology: that includes connecting with people we care about and depend on. In contrast to narratives about vanity, slacktivism, and luxury when it comes to tech in the middle-class West, so much of the conversation about technology in the global south focuses on information and practical communications, like around agricultural trends and educational material. This is good and important work. But highly pragmatic use cases are just part of the reason anyone has used communications technology. Informal markets from Asia to Africa are filled with music and movies, like a Bluetooth-powered Napster, and people are just as likely to send text messages and Facebook posts to check in with friends and loved ones as they are to access important healthcare information and market reports. These things can coexist.

Like a city, the internet and mobile phones provide for a vast diversity of human needs, which include the basic human need for companionship, support, and access to joy in the face of suffering. Fortunately, this part of the global imagination doesn’t require too much effort: Just think of how everyone you know uses technology, the number of apps, the different ways they laugh, smile, cry, and scowl at what they see behind those plates of glass.

Shifting the narrative is such a critical part of the motivation behind my work with global internet cultures, and the above are just a few ideas for how I think we can do that. But more important than trying to know everything about the world is establishing a culture of knowing that we don’t know. The assumption that we can parachute into a foreign culture with formal expertise and knowledge and make things better has never been acceptable, and it has led to a lot of unnecessary suffering, especially in colonized countries. The fact that people in marginalized parts of the world can now call out misguided attitudes and perceptions about them will go a long way, and those of us with access to media and policy can do well to amplify and extend these voices.

But it is also not possible to know every detail about other people’s lives. Attention is limited, as is time. We can learn everything we can about the day to day of rural Laos, but the conflict in Mali will seem completely opaque. Instead, it’s more important to know that we don’t know, know that we need to listen to those who have greater familiarity, and to know that there are ways to go further. Adopting an attitude of humility and curiosity can take us much farther than an attitude of assuredness and assumption. This seems to me like a good place to start—and if you have other and better ideas, I’d love to hear them."

[Also posted here: https://medium.com/@anxiaostudio/failures-of-our-global-imagination-8648b2336c2c ]
anxiaomina  firstworldproblems  internet  thirdworld  firstworld  diversity  slacktivism  vanity  luxury  technology  globalsouth  communication  asia  africa  latinamerica  mobile  phones  smartphones  selfies  advocacy  refugees  2015  privilege  narrative  empathy  thirdworldproblems 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic - The Awl
"Let’s call them Shitpics. Because they look like shit.

Shitpics happen when an image is put through some diabolical combination of uploading, screencapping, filtering, cropping, and reuploading. They are particularly popular on Instagram.

For instance, consider this post by the very famous celebrity Ludacris.

[image]

There’s a lot going on here. Let’s try and figure out how this image ended up in its current state.

The image was probably created by the joke account @blackgirlproblems_official, where it looked like this:

[image]

There are a few clues that this is probably the original. The text is centered and sharper, and the emoji is more than a smudge of dirty yellow gibberish. The picture of the monkey is clear (and cute!!!). All of the text in the watermark is legible.

Then this meme went through hell.

It was saved and cropped numerous times. There are a few signifiers of this: The text is cut off on the left side and there are slight black bars at the top and bottom of the frame. The greenish cloud around the text also indicates an absurd amount of (re)compression.

Maybe the most baffling part of this is the appearance of the rule-of-thirds grid, which likely came from Instagram’s upload screen. Which means that someone screencapped their upload process and then uploaded that? And the grid somehow doesn’t even reach the top and bottom edges.

The version of this image from @msrjstlf indicates that it was probably not run through a filter at any point, since the whitespace seems to have stayed mostly that. The lower left corner of the picture does show, however, just how many times it has been reconfigured: the “black” in “blackgirlproblems_official” has been absorbed by section of blanket that has been widening and darkening as the macro travels through the wringer.

[image]

Then Ludacris puts the cherry on top: a translucent gray regram banner crediting the account that he got it from (though not, of course, the original photographer or even macro author).

The Shitpic aesthetic has arisen from two separate though equally influential factors, both of which necessitate screencapping instead of direct downloading. The first is that Instagram, which has no built-in reposting function, doesn’t let users save images directly. This means that the quickest way to save an image on a phone is to screencap it, technically creating a new image.

The second, more important shift is the new macro format that divorces text from image. Classic memes (jfc “classic memes” what are we doing) had text directly on the image, written in Impact font in a particular style—white with a black border. That changed with the rise of the text setup/image punchline format on Tumblr, particularly on the blog What Should We Call Me, which spawned and continues to spawn imitators. Twitter began to imitate this when it changed tweet formatting to hide image URLs (pic.twitter.com) from tweets, easing the transition from text to image, from setup to punchline.

It’s difficult to send someone a technically exact copy of these types of jokes, because they can’t be bundled into a single file such an image. Sending the URL where the joke is hosted requires someone to load an entire webpage, which is relatively laborious on mobile, and so they necessitate being screencapped.

In general, directly saving images on mobile is a function that, even when available, most people don’t bother to use or even learn (saving files locally—in any kind of file system—is generally discouraged in smartphone operating systems). Screencapping is just easier—it’s the quickest way to get something from the internet to your camera roll. That’s why even classic-format memes have fallen victim to the Shitpic process.

[images]

When you pair the format’s inherent need to be screencapped in order to attain virality with Instagram’s prevention of downloading images, you get an endless cycle of screencapping and compression through uploading. Throw in the occasional filter, or watermark, or regram tag, and let the process carry itself out for a while, and eventually you get a Shitpic. The layers pile up, burying and distorting the original.

The rise of the Shitpic demonstrates just how little ownership there is on the internet: Shoddy workarounds and subpar image quality are a small sacrifice to make, so long as your version of a joke goes viral instead of someone else’s. That the image is a muddled cacophony of compression artifacts and blurry emoji matters little, so long as your screenname is above it.

[image]

Perhaps most importantly, the Shitpic aesthetic could very well be the first non-numeric indicator of viral dissemination. Metrics such as pageviews, impressions, Facebook referrals, YouTube view counts, and BuzzFeed viral lift all attempt to quantify virality in some way. To the layman (and, let’s be frank, some industry experts too) all of this is gibberish.

[images]

But if you look at a Shitpic, you can instantly tell the level of virality by how worn it looks, how legible its text is, how many watermarks adorn it. You can count them much like you would rings on a tree. A pristine-looking meme engenders skepticism—“This can’t be that funny, it hasn’t been imperfectly replicated enough.” But when you see that blurry text, partially cut off by the top of the frame, and a heavily compressed picture of Kermit below… that’s when you know:

This is gonna be a good-ass meme."
instagram  photography  internet  culture  degradation  compression  cropping  2014  brianfeldman  digital  shitpics  mobile  phones  screencapping  screenshots  distortion  virality 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Livraison vingt-quatre : PK, pagers, iPod Touch et feature phones + Lee Scratch Perry
"2. Pagers, iPod Touch et feature phones

Dans son ouvrage "Quoi de neuf ?" publié en 2006, l’historien anglais David Edgerton observait la persistance, la "résistance" ou la ré-introduction de "vieilles techniques". Il citait notamment la résurgence de la télévision par cable dans les années 1980s (après avoir été en vogue dans les années 1950s) ou l’acupuncture (à son paroxysme au XIXème puis de retour depuis trente ans).

Un autre exemple historique marquant dans son livre est celui l'importance du cheval durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale:
"L’armée allemande, si souvent décrite comme reposant sur des formations blindées, eut bien plus de chevaux durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale que n’en eut l’armée britannique durant la Grande Guerre. Le réarmement de l’Allemagne, dans les années 1930, passa par un achat massif de chevaux, au point qu’en 1939 cette armée en possédait 590 000, et en avait 3 millions d’autres en réserve dans l’ensemble du pays. […] Début 1945, la Wehrmacht disposait de 1.2 millions de chevaux ; on estime à 1.5 millions les pertes en chevaux accumulés durant la guerre."

Avec ces exemples, Edgerton nous rend attentif au fait que "le temps technologique ne va pas uniquement vers l’avant"; et qu’il n’y a donc pas un bel ordonnancement chronologique. En adoptant le point de vue des usages des objets techniques, on peut regarder différents “mondes technologiques” et s’apercevoir de la diversité des pratiques. C’est un sujet qui intéresse votre correspondant dans le cadre d’un projet d’enquête sur les téléphones mobiles. En cherchant dans mes notes de terrain je suis tombés sur quelques cas de ce genre (( dans l’app Notes sur mon téléphone, j’ai une Note nommée "Livefieldnotes" dans laquelle je consigne mes observations concernant les usages des téléphones mobiles. C’est écrit à la volée sur le terrain donc avec des fautes d’orthographes et un certain laconisme ))

Voici les notes en questions:
23.08.2015 - train Genève - Lausanne Un homme regarde son pager Motorola, une technologie que je pensais disparue... Mais qui semble encore exister à ce que je lis sur le site de sigmacom.ch et qui sert des "besoins professionnels" avec des èchanges de messages alphanumeriques. Il dit mystérieusement l'utiliser du fait de sa fiabilité : "ça marche partout meme dans les zones a faible reseau de telephone, le fabricant me dit que ca joue a 99% partout dans le pays"

11.08.2015 - Genève, square Chantepoulet Rencontre avec J. un chercheur suisse-allemand, qui sort ses deux telephones (un iPod Touch et un vieux Nokia), il n'a pas de data plan et dit aussi utiliser cette combinaison d’appareils "pour se proteger des distractions". Il me dit utilise le Nokia (un feature phone noir) pour les appels, et le iPod Touch pour l’accès aux apps. Et s’il a besoin d’être connecté au Web mobile pour browser ou certaines apps, il le fait dans les lieux où il y a du Wifi

8.08.2015 - Geneve, marché aux puces Discussion avec un vendeur de telephone mobile genre nokia 3210 d'occasion (30chf), se vend bien, pour les gens qui n'arrivent pas bien a utiliser les smartphone "c trop complique", par exemple me dit le vendeur dans son francais approx: "par exemple une dame qui vient et dit que son fils lui a offert un iphone et elle comprend rien... Elle m'achete ce nokia [3310] et elle sait faire, elle recoit l'appel elle appuie sur le bouton et c bon; donc j'en vends toujours un peu"

Ces exemples, pris parmi d’autres, sont intéressants à plusieurs niveaux. D’abord parce qu’il montre la persistance et la diversité des usages d’objets techniques généralement considérés comme moins à la page (sans jeu de mot aucun sur le premier). Ensuite car ils renvoient à un autre aspect discuté par Edgerton : celle de la prétendue “résistance aux techniques nouvelles”, problèmes parfois abordés par psychologues ou historiens. Or, comme il l’explique, “il est absurde de parler de résistance à la technique ou à l’innovation dans un monde dont les individus ou les sociétés n’acceptent pas nécessairement toute innovation – ou, en fait – tout produit qui leur est proposée. De toute façon, il y a résistance. En adoptant une technique, la société résiste nécessairement à de nombreuses techniques substitutives ‘anciennes’ et ’nouvelles’.” Les pagers très fiables, les features phones en sont de bons exemples. Et l’usage des iPod Touch, à la manière de J., était d’ailleurs précisément proposé dans un article récent de la revue Wired comme l’un des système de communication les plus sécurisé à l'heure actuelle. Même si ces usages ne sont pas majoritaires – tout dépend où ! – ils existent et nous rappellent que différents critères influent sur les choix d'utilisation.

Cette combinaison d'objets techniques est d'ailleurs ce qui pêche souvent dans les vidéos prospectifs des grandes sociétés technologiques. On ne voit que des appareils rutilants, les dernières interfaces, alors que la réalité des pratiques correspond davantage à une grande diversité. C'est certes moins glorieux (un téléphone non-tactile ferait-il tâche à côté d'Hololense ?) mais bien plus plausible. Mon collègue du Near Future Laboratory Nic Foster utilisait dans cet article de Core77 une métaphore géologique pour ce phénomène : celui de l'accrétion qui lui permettait d'en discuter les enjeux deson point de vue de designer:
"In order to communicate our vision, it may be helpful to incorporate the existing designed space in parallel with the new. On a very practical level, we should embrace legacy technologies when conceiving new ones. Ethnographic studies constantly highlight technology accretion: the drawer full of cables, the old interaction behaviors, the dusty hard drives, the mouse mats and inherited hardware. Rather than avoid this complexity, good science fiction embraces accretive spaces, where contemporary design and technology sits side by side with older artifacts. In some cases, this technique can be used to show potential disconnects between the new and established, places where technology sticks out like a sore thumb. This is a useful tool for all designers and using it well can help us depict a more tangible future."

Comme il l'exprime ici, cette prise en compte de la diversité des pratiques peut stimuler la rechercher de voies originales. Dans le cas des mobiles, c'est la raison pour laquelle on voit toujours des produits pertinents basés sur des pagers aujourd'hui (c'est d'ailleurs le cas par exemple avec de la géolocalisation indoor) ou des téléphones servant uniquement à téléphoner... avec des propositions loin d'être inesthétiques, absurdes ou curieuses."
nicolasnova  davidedgerton  technology  time  chronology  nicfoster  designfiction  future  futures  mobilephones  cv  fieldnotes  diversity  tools  mobile  phones  smartphones  complexity  design  novelty  earlyadopters  lateadopters  difference  ipodtouch  innovation 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Everyone in Buenos Aires Is Communicating by Voice Memo Now | Motherboard
"On any given block in Buenos Aires, you are likely to see someone speaking into their phone, but not on it; talking to someone, but not necessarily with anyone. I recently visited the city, and was struck by the fact that it seemed like all the citizens were walking around expressively talking to themselves. In reality, most people are perpetually sending voice memos to one another.

The phone call has long been a thing of the past when it comes to daily communication, but in Argentina, mobile phone users are increasingly turning to voice memos instead of texting to communicate.

These messages are sent almost exclusively through WhatsApp, which has around 11 million users in Argentina. Federico Novick, who is from Buenos Aires and is doing graduate research in Internet Studies in the US, said many people in Latin America use WhatsApp instead of SMS because it’s relatively cheap.

“The main reason people use WhatsApp in Argentina is because in many Latin countries, you have to pay for every text you send,” he said, “whereas with WhatsApp, you pay one price for data and you can send as many as you want.

My friends there tell me the voice note phenomenon started when WhatsApp introduced voice messages in 2013. Novick said because WhatsApp is such a major platform in Argentina, users quickly embrace new features, particularly the voice message, which appeals to Argentina’s talkative culture.

“The audio feature has gained popularity because Argentinians like to talk, they like to hear themselves and their voices and each other,” he said.

The volleying of voice messages often starts off with the same phrase: “Paja escribir,” or “Too lazy to write.” Then the exchange begins."

[See also: http://emiliamag.com/audios-de-whatsapp-las-polemicas/ ]

[via: https://tinyletter.com/nicolasnova/letters/livraison-dix-huit-variations-culturelles-mobiles-lecture-au-temps-des-algorithmes-et-chirurgie-diy ]
argentina  mobile  communication  voice  2015  whatsapp  phones  voicememos 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Smartphones are a lifeline for homeless people | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian
"If you ask someone what they think are the biggest challenges for homeless people, they might say finding a safe place to sleep or a meal to eat. Few would assume that charging a smartphone to check emails would be high on the list.

“When people wonder how or why a homeless person is able to afford a mobile phone, they are making massive assumptions that people are just walking into a shop and buying a phone, whereas it might be that someone has given it to them,” says Hafsah FitzGibbon, partnerships and participation manager for youth homeless charity Centrepoint.

This presents a vexing paradox. While society may view a homeless person’s ownership of a smartphone as an unnecessary extravagance, in reality, experts say, this demographic is one that is most dependent on the technology as a resource for stability. In addition to being an essential way to keep in touch with support services, case workers and to look for jobs or housing, a mobile phone can also serve as an “escape from isolation” and, according to FitzGibbon, a way to create networks to combat social exclusion.

Michael Thompson is a programme manager for Community Awareness Network, an organisation that helps homeless and vulnerable people in Manchester. He explains that when trying to help people who are sleeping on the streets, it’s significantly easier to assist them quickly if they have a mobile phone.

“We were out on the street last night and I met a 20-year-old girl sleeping rough who was able to give me her mobile number,” Thompson says. “I can get her anything she needs now because I have her mobile number and can pass that on to other organisations. We’ll be able to get her off the street quicker because we can always trace back to her.”

When it comes to getting phones into the hands of homeless, there are just a few business-backed projects addressing the issue, mostly based in the US. This year, Citibank, Vodafone, and Google partnered with the Community Technology Alliance to support its Mobile4All project which distributes smartphones to homeless people in California’s San Jose.

Allan Baez, project manager for Mobile4All, says that through his work he consistently sees how mobile phones play a role in stabilising homeless people’s lives.

“Smartphones are incomparable tools for connecting people who are isolated, and empowering homeless and extreme-low-income individuals to access life-changing services and gain self-sufficiency,” says Baez.

As the number of phones in circulation rises due to frequent technology upgrades, slightly out-dated or secondhand devices are increasingly available and affordable. The real challenge for homeless people, Baez and FitzGibbon say, lies in the maintenance of a phone — finding a place to charge it, maintaining a contract, affording a top up or having enough space for necessary apps. For that reason, projects that increase public wireless networks, such as that recently announced by BT and Barclays, are helpful for homeless people as they are not required to go in to a shop or cafe where they might have to purchase something.

“Often homeless people we work with might have both a basic phone for receiving calls and then a smartphone which they can’t afford a contract on, but can use for Wi-Fi,” FitzGibbon says. “It’s common that people will have a phone until they can’t afford it and then they’ll take it to pawn shop or cash converters to pay a bill then buy it back when they can. Many also report that they don’t use text messages but instead use WhatsApp when they’re on Wi-Fi because it’s free.”

Centrepoint is leveraging the prevalence of smartphone usage among its service users by building an app and website. With a £500,000 grant from the Google Impact Challenge, FitzGibbon says the charity wants to build a social network where homeless people can find support and a way to collect data on their experiences of homelessness via self reporting.

She adds that while mobile phones can be a vital tool for homeless people to manage their lives, their most precious resource remains their resilience."
homeless  homelessness  smartphones  communication  mobile  phones  sanjose  hafsahfitzgibbon  centrepoint  michaelthompson  allanbaez  mobile4all 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Goodbye, Native Mobile Apps
"Why Atavist is betting on the web"



"Now, after nearly five years and 51 stories in The Atavist Magazine—plus tens of thousands of publishers and individuals producing their own stories on the Atavist platform—we’re discontinuing our native mobile apps."



"Ultimately, whatever small slice of attention we were gaining by having our app on some people’s home screens was outweighed by the technical, business, and design considerations that had piled up against it."



"Meanwhile, we’ve been able to find our readers on their devices— exactly how we’d hoped to when we started out, except in mobile browsers instead of in our app."
webapps  mobile  design  web  webdev  apps  evanratliff  jeffersonrabb  theatavist  publishing  epublishing  html5  javascript  magazines  howweread  nativeweb  webdesign 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Chrome Experiments
"Chrome Experiments is a showcase of web experiments written by the creative coding community."
webdev  chrome  html5  webgl  mobile  webdesign 
august 2015 by robertogreco
The Classrooms Hidden in Mumbai’s Seams — Bright — Medium
"Educators are bringing the classroom to the thousands of Mumbai’s children out of school — in school buses, treehouses, and beyond."



"Educating children in a city of more than 18 million people — of which at least 1.7 million are children under 6 years old, according to the national census — is a daunting task. Mumbai, India’s financial hub, is a dense metropolis of almost inconceivable disparity, where multi-story homes of business tycoons cast shadows over tiny fishermen communities and crowded informal settlements stretching to absorb thousands of new migrants every week. About 40 percent of the city’s families live in slums, defined as compact, congested areas with poor hygiene and infrastructure.

Mumbai’s education system has fallen gravely short of absorbing its children. Only 400,000 children were enrolled in municipal schools in 2014, according to a report by Praja, a non-partisan research and advocacy organization. That number actually dropped 11 percent since 2009, despite increased government spending on education.

That leaves more than half of the children in Mumbai either out of school or learning in private institutions. At least 37,000 kids in Mumbai live on the streets and work with their parents to earn a few cents a day, according to advocacy organization Action Aid.

In response, community members, activists, and educators have carved out classrooms between the hidden folds and seams of the city. They offer safe and regular learning spaces to students who can easily fall throughout the gaps. Some you have to literally climb into to access, while others are built on wheels. For thousands of students across Mumbai, these classrooms have become tiny oases, a place to call their own for a few hours every day.

Manasvi Khasle walked up and down a narrow aisle. She called out even numbers and waited for her class to say the next one. The 22-year-old teacher knows how to command the attention of the 20 students sitting in neat rows in her unusual classroom: a yellow school bus parked near a smoky crossroad of factories and railway tracks in south Mumbai.

“In the beginning I had to go to their homes and call them to class,” she said. “Now they see the bus pull up and just come.”

Khasle has been teaching for eight years with Door Step, an organization founded in 1988 that runs classes for more than 10,000 students, in school buses and tiny community centers. The buses can only hold 20 students, most of them between six and twelve years old, without much space to wiggle around or store books. But they have unique benefits — like their ability to reach many of Mumbai’s poorest migrants who live on illegal plots of land where schools can’t be built.

The students who come to Door Step are as mobile as their classrooms. Many of them work during the evenings or weekend, walking miles down busy roads to peddle toys or newspapers. Most are the first in their families to receive any type of education.

“I like coming here because we sing songs, we study things,” said Gopal, an 11-year-old who attends class in one of the buses parked close to his home in the Byculla neighborhood. His family migrated to Mumbai from rural Maharashtra. He has yet to be enrolled in a local school full time. “On weekends I walk to the temple and sell lemons. Here I can play.”

***

To get to one learning center at the southern end of Mumbai, you have to walk through a maze of narrow pathways filled with open drains, women scrubbing laundry, and jumbled electrical wires that hang between buildings like knotted shoelaces. Then you climb two ladders — one wooden and painted blue, the other metal — to find a small entryway in the ceiling, which leads to an open platform surrounded by railings and trees.

This is the journey that Kirthna Rai, a volunteer teacher, and her 18 students — mostly slight, lanky teenagers — make five days a week to learn spoken English, math, and general knowledge. It is also the uppermost floor of the home of one student, Harsha Vade. Rai’s organization, a small non-profit called Down to Earth, rents the rooftop by the hour.

“We like it that the kids are so close by,” said Arti Bharat Vade, Harsha’s mother, as she filled buckets of water from a communal pipe. “We want them to do well and make a name for themselves.”

Vade said the center has made a powerful impact on her daughter, who had recently scored strong grades on her tenth grade exams — the make-or-break year in the Indian school system — making her eligible to go to a mainstream college. Harsha’s English is fluid and confident, and Rai has guided her through tough exams and career decisions.

When asked if it was hard to concentrate in this treehouse-like classroom during Mumbai’s scorching summer or heavy monsoon season, the students looked around quizzically before Rai, their teacher, eventually spoke up: “This is just like their homes, it’s what they’re used to.”

***

Some miles north of the Down to Earth Center, a different tiny classroom was buzzing. The Dharavi Art Room was started by educator Himanshu S. in a particularly entrepreneurial neighborhood called Dharavi. The area is home to over 600,000 people — about the same as Baltimore — packed into less than one square mile.

Dharavi Art Room is not yet a registered non-profit, but has been operating with community support and donations from friends to teach painting, drawing and other mediums of expression to children in the area. On one sunny summer Sunday, there were trays of paint and paper strewn along the floor. Fifteen students intently focused on depicting their family, or copying a painting from the famed Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

“It used to be hard for me to paint because I didn’t know how, but now it’s not so hard,” said 12-year-old Lovesh Chilveri, a student at the center, as he carefully shaded a window he was drawing.

Himanshu said the art room is particularly important in Dharavi, where young people are caught in the aggressive atmosphere that can pervade the neighborhood. Sitting on the floor near a student, a book of small paintings by his side, he said the room gives them a relaxed and free space they might not otherwise access.

“Some kids just like to come sit here,” he said. “This is a space where they can be themselves.”

***

"For many of the educators in these informal classrooms, creating a comfortable place is as important as what they teach. Many low-income children in Mumbai deal with very harsh realities of life — going to bed hungry, falling sick from the rain, helping their parents make ends meet — and a classroom can become like a second home.

“Education has to be holistic approach,” said Vrushali Naik, a program coordinator with Mumbai Mobile Creches, a non-profit organization that has reached more than 100,000 children by building temporary education and daycare centers near the construction sites where migrant laborers live.

One center in eastern Mumbai is housed in the same corrugated metal sheds where the migrant families live in neat, Spartan rows. There are three rooms for the children — ranging from infants to teenagers — and educators who teach, play, and help distribute meals throughout the day.

Food is an important part of many of these classrooms. The Action Aid study found that 25 percent of the children in poor Mumbai neighborhoods skipped meals due to lack of money.

At Mumbai Mobile Creches the children eat eggs, lentils and milk, and at Angel Xpress the students line up for packages of sandwiches and snacks at the end of their tutoring sessions.

“We have to look at the bigger picture — do children feel safe, are they understood? Are their stomachs full?” said Reshma Agarwal, an education specialist with UNICEF. “I don’t think these programs have come because of a shortage of classrooms in Mumbai — these programs have come in for specific needs.”

Even so, Agarwal said, the classrooms cannot replace the school system in the city, however weak it may. Most programs agree. Door Step buses, for example, drive kids to municipality schools after they’re admitted. And teachers like Rai help students tackle the exams and papers to get through the critical years of school.

For now, though, the teachers continue to climb ladders, board school buses, and cut through the howling winds of the Mumbai monsoon. And thousands of students willingly follow.

“We don’t walk here,” said 10-year-old Kerketta, referring to Angel Xpress. “We run.”"
mumbai  nkitarao  education  schools  popupschools  interstitialplaces  cityasclassroom  2015  dharavi  mobile  mobility  mobileschools  wherestudentsare  teaching  howweteach  india  mumbaimobilecreches  unicef  resgmaagarwal  doorstep  manasvikhasle  bandra  lcproject  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  cv 
august 2015 by robertogreco
The phone app challenging violence against women in a Mumbai slum | KumKum Dasgupta | Global development | The Guardian
"Domestic abuse is rife in Dharavi slum, but a new project uses a smartphone app and trained community workers to improve the reporting of violence"



"The app, SNEHA believes, encourages increased reporting of violence, lets community members know what assistance is available, and helps NGOs understand more about the prevalence of violence in Dharavi. The interaction is two-way: sometimes sanginis come to know about a case and approach the survivor; at other times, survivors seek out sanginis to report incidents.

“Our volunteers are trained to advise survivors on [the] availability of medical help and also on how to approach the police.” Once cases are brought to SNEHA’s centre, counsellors help survivors file police reports and offer legal support, says Daruwalla.

Earlier this year, SNEHA promoted its work at the inaugural Dharavi biennale. Using scrap denim pieces and discarded objects, sanginis created an art project called Mapping the Hurt, an innovative visualisation of gender violence in the slum.

But if tracking and reporting violence is one part of the challenge, the next big hurdle is getting the police to act.

“Whenever we go to the police to report on domestic violence, they are reluctant to file a case. They say such issues should be settled at home,” explains Bhanuben. Even if a case is lodged, low conviction rates strengthen the impression that there is little point in reporting the crime. Further, a lack of understanding of gender issues, violence and entrenched views about women’s status among lawyers and judges often encourages outcomes that favour reconciliations, overlooking a woman’s needs and demands.

Data collected from July to December last year by SNEHA showed that of the 345 cases analysed, only 19% were reported to the police."
dharavi  violence  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  2015  india  sneha  mumbai 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Mobile Technology Learning Center – School of Leadership and Education Sciences
"Fueling K-12 Innovation. Informed by research, refined by practice.

The Mobile Technology Learning Center (MTLC), established in 2011 by a grant from Dr. Irwin and Joan Jacobs, is a university-based research center that fuels innovation in K-12 education. Under the auspices of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego, MTLC collaborates with school districts to effectively integrate technology into today’s digital learning environments.  Our team of experts uses a comprehensive approach to identify best practices, build capacity and improve student outcomes through research and evaluation, strategic direction and professional learning."
usd  sandiego  mobile  education  technology  mtlc  learning  schools  research 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Three Moments With WeChat | 八八吧 · 88 Bar
"Despite being only four years old, WeChat is more popular in China than Facebook is in the US: 72% of all Chinese people with mobile devices use it, versus the 67% penetration rate Facebook has among American internet users. Yet its Facebook-esque feature, Moments, manages to avoid feeling like the Walmart of social interaction. When my soon-to-be cousin-in-law posted that photo, he no doubt received both sincere congratulations from his professional contacts and older relatives as well as jokes from his closer friends. On Moments, however, each user can only see activity from their own contacts: not even a total count of Likes is available to anyone other than the original poster. This automated privacy curtain means that group social dynamics can remain hidden in plain sight without any moderation effort required from the original poster. In other words, my cousin-in-law could perform his groomal duties without worrying about messy (and potentially embarrassing) context collapse.

This decision to prioritize context separation over the ability to perform social popularity is an important concession to what sociologist Tricia Wang calls the Elastic Self. In a culture where connections are everything, many of WeChat’s features are subtly optimized for “saving face” in complicated situations. You can chat with people without adding them as contacts: someone you met on a chat-coordinated dinner doesn’t automatically become a Contact with access to details about your social life. Even while adding someone as a Contact, there is an option to secretly prevent them from seeing your Moments updates. There’s also a conspicuous lack of presence and typing status indicators as compared to iMessage and other apps, allowing the receiver some measure of plausible deniability about when each message is received.

These days, the buzz around WeChat centers on its impressive sprawl into an entire operating system of features: in certain regions, a user can hail a cab, shop, and even manage their bank accounts all in the app. But these features, introduced in late 2013, only work because they capitalize on WeChat’s already dizzying adoption rate. What lies at the core of WeChat’s success is a series of smart design decisions that reflect the culture they were created in and, together, generate a unique experience that is as functional as it is addictive."



"WeChat privileges another mode of communication equally to text: “Hold to Talk.” This featured, used by almost as many people as texting, allows the sender to record a short voice message which is then sent in the conversation. The receiver taps it when they want to hear it, and if there are multiple messages, each subsequent one autoplays. It’s a brilliant feature that marries the intimacy and simplicity of voice with the convenience of asynchronicity that makes texting so appealing.

“Hold to Talk” may have been created for its convenience, but it’s also a powerfully expressive feature with interesting affordances of its own. In the process of writing this piece, I was thinking about a Chinese phrase I only half-remembered. Forgetting a language is funny — there are some words I can read but not pronounce, and others that I can parse while listening but not recognize visually. I remembered the vague shape and meaning of the phrase, so I sent two voice clips to my mom, fumbling the words awkwardly. An hour later, she responded with a voice clip of her own. I listened to her laugh and rib me about my illiteracy, and chuckled alongside it as if she were next to me."



"Periodically, one of our hosts would pull out his phone (a Samsung Galaxy S4, possibly shanzhai) to shoot video clips of the gathering, documenting everyone who was there. Other relatives crowded around the phone afterwards, watching all of the videos on the phone. They were so interested in the videos taken of our hosts’ lives in Beijing, where they lived for most of the year as migrant workers, that they went to desperate measures to attempt to copy them.

WeChat natively supports a surprising number of media formats: images, custom animated stickers, uploaded videos, natively captured short videos called Sights, and even PowerPoint and Word documents. It also facilitates passing these files from one conversation to another through a prominent “forwarding” option for files.

Now that my 80 year old grandmother is on WeChat, the whole family forwards anything amusing they find to the group chat we share so that she can see it. Often, it’s jokes, articles, and photos of ourselves and our food."



"Scrolling through my WeChat today, I see pictures of my cousin and cousin-in-law surfing and glowing on their honeymoon, pictures of my parents from a friend’s graduation ceremony, at least five jokes I can’t quite grok, and even the occasional dispatch from Nanzhai village. Using a chat app to hail a cab with your phone is cool, but at the end of the day the killer feature of WeChat will always be its ability to shorten distances and navigate social situations as deftly as we need to."

[via: http://tumblr.iamdanw.com/post/119597750700/despite-being-only-four-years-old-wechat-is-more ]
christinaxu  socialmedia  facebook  2015  wechat  china  contextcollapse  privacy  metrics  socialdynamics  social  interaction  moderation  mobile  application  socialnetworks  communication  tumblr  vine 
may 2015 by robertogreco
How wealthy kids’ use of social media sets them up for a more successful future - The Washington Post
"In this digital age, we have assumed that smartphones and apps are the new normal for youth. A recently released Pew Research Center report on teens and technology further corroborates this belief by showing that 88 percent of U.S. teens have access to a mobile phone. Of these, 73 percent have smartphones and 15 percent only a basic cell phone.

But it’s worth pausing to consider what online participation looks like for the 15 percent of teens with basic cell phones or the 12 percent who don’t have access to any form of mobile phone and what kind of a new “digital divide” might be emerging. In other words, low-income teens are unable to participate in the social media conversations of their wealthier peers.

Our team at the University of California, Irvine, has been conducting research and developing programs in coding and digital media for these less-connected youth. The nationally representative sample in the Pew data provides context for these populations of urban teens who we work with day-to-day in Southern California.

Teens use of social media

Last summer, we helped organize and conduct research on a digital storytelling course for teens in South Los Angeles. The 30 teens who participated all came from low-income households, were evenly split in gender and were predominantly Latino, with some black and Asian participants.

We designed one program around photo-sharing apps and mobile phone cameras, as we believed that was what teens would be most comfortable doing. It turned out, however, that none of them had an Instagram account and few had ever shared a photo online. We were struck by the contrast between the subjects of our study and those in the Pew study.

More recently, we conducted interviews with 14 teens in the same demographic, who were participating in a workshop using the Scratch programming platform, a creative online learning tool in which young people can develop and share their stories, animations and games. When we asked the teens participating in this program about their mobile and social media use, all of them said they texted to keep in touch with friends and family. Only half had a smartphone.

None of them used the photo-sharing tool Instagram. Only one used Snapchat, another photo messaging tool. They did have Facebook accounts, but none described themselves as active on the site. In a group interview, one of the boys called out the one boy who did use Snapchat: “We are all ghosts on social media except you. You have Snapchat.”

What’s notable is that these low-income teens do not use the social media in ways their wealthier peers do. One of our interviewees notes that she doesn’t use social media at all. “When I’m on my phone, I’m either reading or texting,” she said.

Peer groups will gravitate to the modes of communication that are most widely shared.

Income differences and smartphones

In low-income communities, fewer teens have smartphones, so texting is the most common mode of communication. It’s no fun being on Instagram and Snapchat if your friends are not. We’ve seen proclamations in the media about teenagers’ flight from Facebook and the growing hegemony of smartphone apps like Instagram and Snapchat. In other words, the shift to smartphones means low-income teens are shut out of the dominant communications media of their generation.

These observations are backed by the Pew survey data. Teens in wealthier households are more likely to have smartphones and to prefer Snapchat and Instagram. Compared to those in households earning less than $30,000 annually, twice as many teens in households earning more than $75,000 annually say they use Snapchat as their most visited website. For Instagram, the differences are less pronounced but the survey shows a slight tendency for teens in higher income brackets to prefer the app. That’s not surprising given the high cost of mobile Internet plans.

Contrast that with Facebook use, which is higher among lower income teens. While 51 percent of teens in households earning less than $30,000 use Facebook often, only 31 percent of the teens in the wealthiest households, earning more than $100,000, do so. Facebook can be accessed through a shared family PC or a public library computer, making it a much more accessible platform than those that rely on smartphone connectivity for an app.

An area of concern

Teens’ access to Snapchat and Instagram may not seem like something we should be terribly concerned about, but it is an indicator of deeper and troubling forms of digital inequity. Social digital and networked media use is where young people gain everyday fluency and comfort with the technology and social norms of our times. Whether it is managing a LinkedIn network or learning to code, young people who lack digital fluency and full access will always be a step behind their more connected peers.

In many ways, this emerging smartphone divide is more troubling than the digital divide we faced back in the 1990s. The digital divide at that time described the gap between those who had access to desktop computers and the Internet and those who did not. Public concern led to policies and community efforts to bridge the divide through public infrastructures. Schools and libraries emerged as important access points for children and youth who did not have access at home.

Today’s smartphone divide is potentially much more difficult to bridge as it goes hand in glove with expensive consumer technologies and private infrastructure.

We need to address this new divide head-on before it becomes entrenched in the experiences of this rising generation."
2015  crystlemartin  mimiito  teens  youth  technology  snapchat  facebook  socialmedia  smartphones  mobile  phones  communication  instagram  digitaldivide  inequality 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Mobile-Friendly Test
"This test will analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.

Learn more about the mobile-friendly criteria and how it may affect Google's search results by reading our blog post."

[via: http://searchengineland.com/everything-need-know-googles-new-stance-mobile-216870 ]
mobile  google  webdev  tools  webdesign 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Seven Reasons We Hate Free-Range Parenting - Bloomberg View
"Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of Maryland want to raise their children as "free-range kids," which is to say giving them the kind of range of movement that those of us over 30 recall as a normal part of childhood. One of my cherished childhood memories is the long walks my best friend and I would take home from church through New York's Riverside Park, which Google Maps records as a distance of a mile and a half, stopping at every playground along the way. This is slightly longer than the walk home from the playground that caused Montgomery County's Child Protective Services to investigate the Meitivs last year, after someone called the police to report the alarming sight of ... children walking down the street alone. On Sunday, after another "good Samaritan" called the cops, CPS seized the children, leaving the parents frantic with worry for hours.

One could argue that this is a good lesson for the parents. One could also argue that it would be bracing to have the police periodically break into our homes to educate us about weak points in our security systems. In fact, the sort of abduction that CPS apparently wants the Meitivs to obsess over is incredibly rare and always has been.

Why has America gone lunatic on the subject of unattended children? Parents hover over their kids as if every step might be their last. If they don't hover, strangers do, calling the police to report any parent who leaves their child to run into the store for a few minutes. What's truly strange is that the parents who are doing this were themselves left to their own devices in cars, allowed to ride their bikes and walk to the store unsupervised, and otherwise given the (limited) freedom that they are now determined to deny their own kids. The police are making arrests that would have branded their own parents as criminals. To hear people my age talk about the dangers of unsupervised children, you would think that the attrition rate in our generation had been at least 30 percent.

Even people who haven't gone crazy are afraid of the Pediatric Patrol. A mom of my acquaintance whose house backs up to a school playground, with a gate that lets her children walk straight into the schoolyard, is afraid to let them go through the gate without an adult, for fear that someone would call the same nutty CPS that has taken to impounding the Meitiv children. She compromises by letting them play alone in the playground only when she is in the backyard, so that she can intervene if the police arrive.

Think about that: Kids have the priceless boon of a playground right in their backyard, but they can't use it unless Mom drops everything to accompany them. I am running out of synonyms for "insane" to describe the state we have worked ourselves into. What on earth has happened to us?

As it happened, I looked into that for my book, and the disappointing news is that I didn't find much good research to explain this mass shift in American parenting. I did, however, develop some theories from watching parents, law enforcement officials and others discuss the pros and cons of free-range parenting.

I should add a caveat: I don't have kids, so I lack an important perspective. And I should say that if I did have kids, I'm sure I too would be a safety paranoiac, making my own baby food from organic ingredients just in case pesticides in their unsweetened applesauce turn out to cause cancer. So I'm not blaming individual parents; this is a collective insanity, not a personal foible.

So how can we explain it?

1. Cable news. When you listen to parents talk about why they hover, you'll frequently hear that the world is more dangerous than it used to be. This is the exact opposite of the truth. The New York City where I walked to school, past housing projects with major crime problems and across busy streets, was much more dangerous than the New York of today. And that is true of virtually everywhere. The world is not more dangerous. But it feels more dangerous to a lot of people because the media landscape has shifted.

Think of it this way: There were always stranger abductions, but they were always extremely rare, perhaps 2 or 3 per 1 million children under 12 in the U.S. each year. However, in the 1970s, you most likely only heard about local cases, and because these were rare, you would hear about one every few years in a moderately large metropolitan area. This made it sound like what it is: an unimaginably terrible thing that thankfully almost never happens. Very occasionally, a case would catch the imagination and make national news, like the Lindbergh baby. But these almost always happened in big cities like New York, or to rich people, so people didn't imagine that this was a risk that faced them.

Then along came cable news, which needed to fill 24 hours a day with content. These sorts of cases started to make national news, and because our brains are terrible at statistics, we did not register this as "Aha, the overall rate is still low, but I am now hearing cases drawn from a much larger population, so I hear about more of them." Instead, it felt like stranger abductions must have gone up a lot.

The Internet also enables parents to share stories of every bad thing that happens to their children. We used to be limited to collecting these stories from people we actually met, which meant that we didn't hear a lot of truly terrible stories. Now we have thousands at the tips of our fingers, and the same failures of statistical intuition make it feel like wow, terrible things are happening all the time these days.

2. Economic insecurity. As college degrees, and particularly elite degrees, have become more valuable, parents have come to feel that they must micromanage their children's lives in order to make a good showing on college applications. The result is vastly more supervised activities. This has shrunk the pool of kids who are around to play with, making free-range childhood less rewarding.

3. Mothers working. In suburbs and small towns, stay-at-home moms formed "eyes on the street," so that even if your kid was roaming the neighborhood, there was a gentle adult eye periodically sweeping across their activity. But I don't think we can lean on this too much, because kids in cities also had a lot more independence back then, and the Broadway of my youth was not exactly a sweet, sheltered world where nothing much could go wrong.

There's another reason I think this matters, however. More mothers are paying others to take care of their children. It's easy to impose severe limits on the mobility of your children when you are not personally expected to provide 24-hour supervision. When I was a kid, there were a lot of mothers at home who believed that being home with kids was important but did not actually personally enjoy playing with 4-year-olds. Those parents would have rebelled at being told that they should never let their kids out of hearing range. Those mothers are now at work, paying someone else to enjoy playing with their 4-year-old or at least convincingly fake it.

4. Collective-action problems. When it comes to safety, overprotective parents are in effect taking out a sort of regret insurance. Every community has what you might call "generally accepted child-rearing practices," the parenting equivalent of "generally accepted accounting principles." These principles define what is good parenting and provide a sort of mental safe harbor in the event of an accident. If you do those things and your kid gets hurt -- well, you'll still wish that you'd asked them to stay home and help bake cookies, or lingered a little longer at the drugstore, or something so that they weren't around when the Bad Thing happened. But if you break them and your kid gets hurt, you -- and a lot of other people -- will feel that it happened because you were a bad parent. So you follow the GACP.

Over time, these rules get set by the most risk-averse parent in your social group, because if anything happens, you'll wish you had acted like them. This does not mean that the kids are actually safer: Parents in most places "shelter" their kids from risk by strapping them into cars and driving them to supervised activities, which is more dangerous than almost anything those kids could have gotten up to at home.

5. Lawsuits. In the U.S., the liability revolution of the 1970s has made every institution, from parks departments to schools, much more sensitive about even tiny risks, because when you go before the jury in a case about a hurt child, arguing that what happened was less likely than getting hit by a bolt of lightning is going to have much less impact than the evidence of a hurt child.

6. Mobile phones. All these strangers calling 911 to report a 6-year-old who has been left in a car outside a store for a few minutes are probably doing so because it's easy. If that person had to dig for a piece of paper and a pen to write the license plate down, then take time out of their day to find a pay phone, dial the police and stand around talking to the 911 operator, most would probably think "You know, I bet his mom is going to come out of the store in a minute, and I really need to get home to start dinner." Now you can just take a picture of the license plate and call from the comfort of your car. It would be surprising if we lowered the price of being an officious busybody and didn't get a lot more of it.

7. We're richer. Richer countries can afford more safety. That's a good thing, but there can be too much safety. There are major downsides to this form of parenting, as many authors have laid out: It's hard on the parents, may result in the kids developing more phobias, and stunts the creativity and self-reliance that we theoretically want to develop in children so that they can become happy and productive adults.

I don't think there's one easy answer to why we've become insane; rather, there are a lot of forces that are pushing in this direction. But that doesn't mean we can't push back. And a good start would be for … [more]
parenting  children  safety  meganmcardle  freedom  free-rangeparenting  2015  media  news  statistics  liability  litigiousness  law  legal  helicoperparents  helicopterparenting  labor  work  economics  insecurity  micromanagment  lawenforcement  childcare  overprotection  risk  riskassessment  risktaking  lawsuits  mobile  phones  wealth  cps  via:ayjay  helicopterparents 
april 2015 by robertogreco
An Asshole Theory of Technology - The Awl
"This reminded me of something I came across a few years ago. It’s an account of Sony Chairman Akio Morita testing out the first Walkman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will succeed, in other words, to whatever extent it allows people to be assholes."
apple  culture  rebeccalind  akiomorita  communication  attention  isolation  applewatch  sony  walkman  googleglass  johnherrman  distraction  oculusrift  mobile  phones  smartphones  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
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