robertogreco + publicgood   38

San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
20 days ago by robertogreco
Meet the man behind a third of what's on Wikipedia - YouTube
"Wikipedia now boasts more than 5.7 million articles in English and millions more translated into other languages, all written by online volunteers. Errol Barnett talks to one editor who was named among Time Magazine’s most influential people on the internet."

[See also:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/meet-the-man-behind-a-third-of-whats-on-wikipedia/

"Steven Pruitt has made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles. It's earned him not only accolades but almost legendary status on the internet.

The online encyclopedia now boasts more than 5.7 million articles in English and millions more translated into other languages – all written by online volunteers. Pruitt was named one of the most influential people on the internet by Time magazine in part because one-third of all English language articles on Wikipedia have been edited by Steven. An incredible feat, ignited by a fascination with his own history.

Pruitt is deeply obsessed with history, and his love of opera inspired his Wikipedia username: Ser Amantio Di Nicolao, his favorite opera character.

"My first article was about Peter Francisco, who was my great great great great great great grandfather … and if we had an hour I could probably go into the full story," Pruitt said. "He was a sergeant in arms in the Virginia Senate and there's kidnapping, potential piracy. If you read the story you would not believe any of it happened."

Still living with his parents in the home he grew up in, Pruitt has always remained true to his interests.

"I think for a long time there was an attitude of, 'That's nice, dear. The boy's crazy. I don't know why he wastes his time, the boy's crazy,'" Pruitt said of what his parents think of his volunteer gig.

That may have changed when Time magazine named him one of the top 25 most influential people on the internet, alongside President Trump, J.K. Rowling and Kim Kardashian West.

How much money does he make from his work? None.

"The idea of making it all free fascinates me. My mother grew up in the Soviet Union ... So I'm very conscious of what, what it can mean to make knowledge free, to make information free," he said.

Pulling from books, academic journals and other sources, he spends more than three hours a day researching, editing and writing.

Even his day job is research, working in records and information at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He joked that his colleagues probably think he's nuts.

"Because I edit Wikipedia all the damn time, I think that one sort of goes without saying," Pruitt said.

Wikipedia's Kui Kinyanjui said the site would not exist without the dedication of its volunteers. It is now one of the top five most visited in the world, among Google, YouTube and Facebook.

"People like Steven are incredibly important to platforms like Wikipedia, simply because they are the ones that are the lifeblood," said Kui Kinyanjui, WikiMedia's vice president of communications.

Six-thousand people visit the site every second, bringing a responsibility for the editors to present a diverse and fair platform.

"We know there's a lot more to be done. That's why we're very excited about projects like Women in Red, which seeks to identify and place more content on women on our platform ... Steven has been a large contributor to that project," Kinyanjui said.

"The last statistic I saw was that 17.6 percent of the biographical articles on Wikipedia area about women, on the English Wikipedia I should say," Pruitt said. "It was under 15 percent a couple of years ago which shows you how much we have been able to move the needle."

How does he celebrate that victory? "Write another article, make another edit."

To put in to perspective what it took for Pruitt to become the top editor, he's been dedicating his free time to the site for 13 years. The second-place editor is roughly 900,000 edits behind him, so his first place status seems safe, for now."]
2019  wikipedia  online  internet  web  stevenpruitt  publicgood  influence  power  gender 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Ubiquitous Collectivism that Enables America’s Fierce Individualism
"Forbes recently released their 2019 “30 Under 30” list of “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada” who are also under 30 years old. A persistent criticism of the list is that many of the people on it are there because of family or other social advantages. As Helen Rosner tweeted of last year’s list:
My take is: all 30 Under 30 lists should include disclosure of parental assets

In a piece for Vox, Aditi Juneja, creator of the Resistance Manual and who was on the 30 Under 30 list last year, writes that Forbes does ask finalists a few questions about their background and finances but also notes they don’t publish those results. Juneja goes on to assert that no one in America is entirely self-made:
Most of us receive government support, for one thing. When asked, 71 percent of Americans say that they are part of a household that has used one of the six most commonly known government benefits — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, or unemployment benefits.

And many people who benefit from government largesse fail to realize it: Sixty percent of Americans who claim the mortgage-interest deduction, which applies to homeowners, say they have never used a government program. If you’ve driven on public roads, gone to public school, or used the postal service as part of your business — well, we all rely on collective infrastructure to get ahead.

And then she lists some of the ways in which she has specifically benefitted from things like government programs, having what sounds like a stable home environment, and her parents having sufficient income to save money for her higher education.
I went to public schools through eighth grade. My parents were able to save for some of my college costs through a plan that provides tax relief for those savings. I stayed on my parent’s health insurance until I was 26 under the Affordable Care Act. I have received the earned income tax credit, targeted at those with low or moderate income. I took out federal student loans to go to law school.

Juneja’s piece reminds me of this old post about how conservatives often gloss over all of the things that the government does for its citizens:
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

And also of mayor Pete Buttigieg’s idea of a more progressive definition of freedom:
Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.

Lists like 30 Under 30 reinforce the idea of American individualism at the expense of the deep spirit & practice of collectivism that pervades daily American life. America’s fierce individuals need each other. Let’s celebrate and enable that."
kottke  us  individualism  collectivism  aditijuneja  resistance  culture  government  publicgood  helenrosner  petebuttigieg  politics  30under30  class  society  delusions  myths  entrepreneurship  privilege  infrastructure 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Claire Bishop on PALACE IN PLUNDERLAND - Artforum International
"The construction of yet another enormous venue for culture feels like the harbinger of a horrible new world in which all public services are drained of resources but every High Net Worth Individual can evade taxes by pouring a fraction of their profits into a cultural project that enhances their social status. The über-wealthy once gave a percentage of their riches to the church; today they give them to flexible and adaptable visual art/performance spaces."



"A Schema for a School is one thing; the more radical proposition would be a cultural institution that includes within its architecture crucial services like a public school, day care, or a branch of the New York Public Library."
charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  publicgood  inequality  wealth  2018  via:shannon_mattern  clairebishop  arts  architecture  taxevasion  democracy  oligarchy  capitalism  influence  power  museums  control 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Why we should bulldoze the business school | News | The Guardian
"There are 13,000 business schools on Earth. That’s 13,000 too many. And I should know – I’ve taught in them for 20 years. By Martin Parker



Visit the average university campus and it is likely that the newest and most ostentatious building will be occupied by the business school. The business school has the best building because it makes the biggest profits (or, euphemistically, “contribution” or “surplus”) – as you might expect, from a form of knowledge that teaches people how to make profits.

Business schools have huge influence, yet they are also widely regarded to be intellectually fraudulent places, fostering a culture of short-termism and greed. (There is a whole genre of jokes about what MBA – Master of Business Administration – really stands for: “Mediocre But Arrogant”, “Management by Accident”, “More Bad Advice”, “Master Bullshit Artist” and so on.) Critics of business schools come in many shapes and sizes: employers complain that graduates lack practical skills, conservative voices scorn the arriviste MBA, Europeans moan about Americanisation, radicals wail about the concentration of power in the hands of the running dogs of capital. Since 2008, many commentators have also suggested that business schools were complicit in producing the crash.

Having taught in business schools for 20 years, I have come to believe that the best solution to these problems is to shut down business schools altogether. This is not a typical view among my colleagues. Even so, it is remarkable just how much criticism of business schools over the past decade has come from inside the schools themselves. Many business school professors, particularly in north America, have argued that their institutions have gone horribly astray. B-schools have been corrupted, they say, by deans following the money, teachers giving the punters what they want, researchers pumping out paint-by-numbers papers for journals that no one reads and students expecting a qualification in return for their cash (or, more likely, their parents’ cash). At the end of it all, most business-school graduates won’t become high-level managers anyway, just precarious cubicle drones in anonymous office blocks.

These are not complaints from professors of sociology, state policymakers or even outraged anti-capitalist activists. These are views in books written by insiders, by employees of business schools who themselves feel some sense of disquiet or even disgust at what they are getting up to. Of course, these dissenting views are still those of a minority. Most work within business schools is blithely unconcerned with any expression of doubt, participants being too busy oiling the wheels to worry about where the engine is going. Still, this internal criticism is loud and significant.

The problem is that these insiders’ dissent has become so thoroughly institutionalised within the well-carpeted corridors that it now passes unremarked, just an everyday counterpoint to business as usual. Careers are made by wailing loudly in books and papers about the problems with business schools. The business school has been described by two insiders as “a cancerous machine spewing out sick and irrelevant detritus”. Even titles such as Against Management, Fucking Management and The Greedy Bastard’s Guide to Business appear not to cause any particular difficulties for their authors. I know this, because I wrote the first two. Frankly, the idea that I was permitted to get away with this speaks volumes about the extent to which this sort of criticism means anything very much at all. In fact, it is rewarded, because the fact that I publish is more important than what I publish.

Most solutions to the problem of the B-school shy away from radical restructuring, and instead tend to suggest a return to supposedly more traditional business practices, or a form of moral rearmament decorated with terms such as “responsibility” and “ethics”. All of these suggestions leave the basic problem untouched, that the business school only teaches one form of organising – market managerialism.

That’s why I think that we should call in the bulldozers and demand an entirely new way of thinking about management, business and markets. If we want those in power to become more responsible, then we must stop teaching students that heroic transformational leaders are the answer to every problem, or that the purpose of learning about taxation laws is to evade taxation, or that creating new desires is the purpose of marketing. In every case, the business school acts as an apologist, selling ideology as if it were science."



"The easiest summary of all of the above, and one that would inform most people’s understandings of what goes on in the B-school, is that they are places that teach people how to get money out of the pockets of ordinary people and keep it for themselves. In some senses, that’s a description of capitalism, but there is also a sense here that business schools actually teach that “greed is good”. As Joel M Podolny, the former dean of Yale School of Management, once opined: “The way business schools today compete leads students to ask, ‘What can I do to make the most money?’ and the manner in which faculty members teach allows students to regard the moral consequences of their actions as mere afterthoughts.”

This picture is, to some extent, backed up by research, although some of this is of dubious quality. There are various surveys of business-school students that suggest that they have an instrumental approach to education; that is to say, they want what marketing and branding tells them that they want. In terms of the classroom, they expect the teaching of uncomplicated and practical concepts and tools that they deem will be helpful to them in their future careers. Philosophy is for the birds.

As someone who has taught in business schools for decades, this sort of finding doesn’t surprise me, though others suggest rather more incendiary findings. One US survey compared MBA students to people who were imprisoned in low-security prisons and found that the latter were more ethical. Another suggested that the likelihood of committing some form of corporate crime increased if the individual concerned had experience of graduate business education, or military service. (Both careers presumably involve absolving responsibility to an organisation.) Other surveys suggest that students come in believing in employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction and leave thinking that shareholder value is the most important issue, and that business-school students are more likely to cheat than students in other subjects."



"The sorts of doors to knowledge we find in universities are based on exclusions. A subject is made up by teaching this and not that, about space (geography) and not time (history), about collectives of people (sociology) and not about individuals (psychology), and so on. Of course, there are leakages and these are often where the most interesting thinking happens, but this partitioning of the world is constitutive of any university discipline. We cannot study everything, all the time, which is why there are names of departments over the doors to buildings and corridors.

However, the B-school is an even more extreme case. It is constituted through separating commercial life from the rest of life, but then undergoes a further specialisation. The business school assumes capitalism, corporations and managers as the default form of organisation, and everything else as history, anomaly, exception, alternative. In terms of curriculum and research, everything else is peripheral.

Most business schools exist as parts of universities, and universities are generally understood as institutions with responsibilities to the societies they serve. Why then do we assume that degree courses in business should only teach one form of organisation – capitalism – as if that were the only way in which human life could be arranged?

The sort of world that is being produced by the market managerialism that the business school sells is not a pleasant one. It’s a sort of utopia for the wealthy and powerful, a group that the students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining, but such privilege is bought at a very high cost, resulting in environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.

Selling the business school works by ignoring these problems, or by mentioning them as challenges and then ignoring them in the practices of teaching and research. If we want to be able to respond to the challenges that face human life on this planet, then we need to research and teach about as many different forms of organising as we are able to collectively imagine. For us to assume that global capitalism can continue as it is means to assume a path to destruction. So if we are going to move away from business as usual, then we also need to radically reimagine the business school as usual. And this means more than pious murmurings about corporate social responsibility. It means doing away with what we have, and starting again."
mba  business  education  capitalism  businessschools  latecapitalism  2018  martinparker  highereducation  highered  corporatism  universities  colleges  society  priorities  managerialism  exclusions  privilege  environment  sustainability  markets  destruction  ethics  publicgood  neoliberalism  finance  money 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering | Literary Hub
"In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



"Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao Tsu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens into another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds. All readers are Wu Daozi; all imaginative, engrossing books are landscapes into which readers vanish."
rebeccasolnit  2017  children  unschooling  deschooling  parenting  education  libraries  wandering  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  forests  childhood  novato  california  learning  canon  publicgood  us  egalitarianism  democracy  socialism  thoreau  walking  cv  unknowing  uncertainty  woods  writing  howwewrite  books  literature  stories  storytelling  listening  reading  sanctuary  vanishing  nature  plants  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
HEWN, No. 252
"We are incredibly bound to our mythologies. Of course we are. Mythologies – despite the popular usage of the term wherein “myth” equals “lie” – are our sacred stories. As such, these stories become capital-T true, even when they are so clearly capital-BS bullshit.

The technology industry’s power, I’d argue, is deeply intertwined with its sacred stories. And one of the most influential storytellers of Internet lore died this week: John Perry Barlow, best known as the author of the techno-utopian manifesto “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.” Or, depending on your social circles, I suppose, best known as a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. Or, depending on where you’re from, best known as a rancher and Wyoming native. I’ll say, as another Wyoming native, that these three elements of JPB’s life are inseparable: how tech culture envisions itself as “counterculture,” how it imagines its role in “revolution,” how it privileges “the individual” (often code for the lone, white, male hero).

“I can’t help but ask what might have happened had the pioneers of the open web given us a different vision – one that paired the insistence that we must defend cyberspace with a concern for justice, human rights, and open creativity, and not primarily personal liberty. What kind of internet would we have today?” April Glaser asks. We must rethink what has been mythologized, what and who is being mythologized when it comes to this technological world being built for us. Maybe these aren’t our sacred stories after all.

There was another tech hero with a moment of PR glory this week, of course: tech billionaire Elon Musk, whose company SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy, “the first time a rocket this powerful has been sent into space by a private company rather than a government space agency,” as The New York Times put it. The coverage of the rocket launch was mostly the coverage of Musk’s gimmicky decision to include as payload “a cherry-red Tesla Roadster once driven by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, blasting tunes from David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ with a spacesuit-clad ‘Star Man’ dummy strapped in the driver’s seat.” The coverage of Elon Musk’s companies is almost always coverage of Elon Musk. That’s how he wants it, of course. Journalists, as mythmakers, seem happy to oblige."
audreywatters  2018  edtech  technology  elonmusk  johnperrybarlow  myth  mythology  mythmaking  journalism  technosolutionism  pr  aprilglaser  donaldborenstein  spacex  publicgood  wealth  inequality  cyberspace  web  online  society  individualism  libery  justice  socialjustice  power  corporatism 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Why Good Design Is a Public Good - CityLab
"Coming to a community as an outsider and designing sensitively for it requires not just good intentions, but humility. James Mitchell, Orkidstudio’s founder, recalls a project he did in Bolivia that chipped away at the confidence he had built up working for the famous Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. “We argued and we pulled in different directions, we got a lot of things wrong, and we had a lot of tears on the project. But it really taught me so much; I think it was the biggest learning curve of my life. It was maybe a bad place to be, but, in hindsight, a good place to be.”"
design  publicgood  architecture  2017  via:senongo 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Letting Go Of School In Order To Think About Education
"On all of my social media profiles I self-identify as “Educator” among other titles and descriptors. I chose “educator” because it’s an umbrella term which encompasses both doing and being. To educate others may include teaching, coaching, facilitating, or guiding; providing space, opportunities, materials, structure, collaborators, audience, relevance, push-back and acceptance. As an educator I create possibilities to be speaker and listener, instructor and learner, producer and consumer, writer and reader, expert and novice, role model and seeker, professional and amateur.

When I teach at school, this is not necessarily the list going through my head. It is unlikely that my thinking is focused on the possibilities I am creating or opportunities I am affording myself or my students. No, I am thinking about brass tacks: doing the thing, getting it done in time, getting the class to do it my way (mostly). That is my teaching reality. In my planning I may find the chance to wax philosophical about what I want the real lesson to be (i.e., how to work equitably with people who are not your favorites vs. how to play 4 v 4 soccer). Or after the fact, when my colleague and I talk over what worked and didn’t work in an activity that we both tried, then I may discover an insight or two about what I am creating or perhaps sabotaging in the process. Reflection belongs to teaching. Doing and acting belong to teaching. Screwing up belongs to teaching.

Yet teaching as a set or series of actions does not add up to educating. Teaching is a piece of education, not the whole.

Often when conversations about education get hot, I find that we are actually talking about schools, teachers, policies, students, and families. What schools should do. What students should do. What families should do. What policies should do. We are talking about integral pieces of education but not about education as whole: what it is, what it can enable, how it serves us as a society. Of course this is a much more challenging task. How can we talk about what education is and what it should be when our schools are crumbling, our kids are not always safe (both inside and outside our classrooms), and the disparities between rich and poor are growing by the minute?

I don’t have the answer.

What I have come to understand, however, is that we will not achieve better education systems or outcomes without stepping back from the constraints of “school thinking.” I need to let go of what I know and think about school - its structures, history, and influence - in order to be able to think more openly about education and its possibilities. And in order to do that it feels necessary to break some rules, to upset some conventions, to seize authority rather than wait for it to be granted.

Free thinking is a political act. Even as I write this, my personal doomsday chorus is getting louder: “you can’t write that! Where’s your evidence? Where’s the data?” That’s the trenchant influence of the existing power structure. I have learned its lessons well. “There is no argument without a quote to back it up.” Authority, expertise, wisdom is always outside me. To ensure the validity of my own thoughts, I have been taught, I must ground my arguments in the theory and work of other scholars.

I’m going to place that rule aside for now and proceed with my free thinking on education. And my first instance is a selfish one: my own children. What is the education that they will need to serve them well in their lives?

• practice being kind.

• aim to be independent while recognizing that interdependence is also the way of the world and critical to our (I mean, everybody’s) survival.

• Learn to ask for and receive help. Practice offering help.

• There are lots of ways to learn things: by reading, observing, trying, asking, teaching, following, researching. Try out lots of different combinations and know that some methods will work better than others for different occasions and aims. Keep talking to people and asking questions. Practice. Get feedback. Practice more. Get more feedback.

• Get to know the culture and climate in which you live. Who seems to be at the top? Who’s on the bottom? Where do you seem to fit in? Where can you help someone? How do these systems work? Learn to ask: ‘What system is this?’

These are lessons I want my children to not only have but to internalize, practice, own in their very particular and individual ways. If I can also help my students travel on and take up these pathways, all the better.

But where do I go with these ideas then?

* * *

The Answer To How Is Yes. (This is a book title you should look up) [https://www.worldcat.org/title/answer-to-how-is-yes-acting-on-what-matters/oclc/830344811&referer=brief_results ]

I start with people. What do people need? People need other people; positive, supportive and caring connections to others. People need purpose - reasons for doing the things they do. We investigate things we want to know more about. We go in search of the things we need. We enlist the help of others to accomplish what we cannot manage on our own. People tend to do well with challenge as long as it does not overwhelm them. Productive challenge cannot be the things which threaten our existence. People require a degree of safety and security in which they can pursue challenge and purpose. Safety and security are what communities build into their webs of relationships through trust and reciprocity.

When I embark on this kind of wide ranging, human needs-centered thinking, I quickly run into mental roadblocks: not so little voices which say, “Be careful! Writing these words, in this way, is risky. It is counter-cultural. It is against the rules of expository writing. This is no way to win a debate.”

As a teacher and educator, I am aghast at the idea that I would dare to go against the rules in a semi-professional setting. From childhood to now, I have been a firm upholder of rules of almost every kind: institutional rules, overt & covert socio-cultural rules, sports rules, you name it. And yet, in this case, I see a need to step outside certain rules, if only briefly, to consider something differently; to see what happens when the ropes are untied and the tension released. Rather than hosting a debate, I invite you to join me on an exploration.

What if, instead of trying to produce good or even excellent students, we aimed more for empowering excellent people, outstanding citizens, valuable community members? What if we created learning centers where people of various ages could gather to pursue purpose, challenge and connection with each other in meaningful ways? What if learning remained part and parcel of living, every day, and we acknowledged and recognized that publicly and privately?

We are so desperate to find secrets, shortcuts and foolproof solutions which will suddenly change everything. Yet, if we have learned nothing else from our extensive schooling titled ‘education’, we certainly know that this is not the way the world works. There will be no miracles and we need to accept that.

When students and teachers and support staff and administrators leave the school building, the question I have is: where do they go? What do they leave school to go work on? What dilemmas are they trying to solve? What new learning will they engage in, in order to meet a particular goal?

No doubt some of those tasks and questions will be directly related to survival: How do I ensure that we have enough income to keep this roof over our heads? How can I help my mom not worry so much about me and my sister when we have to wait alone for her to come home from work? What do I need to do to save this relationship? How do I even know if this relationship is worth saving? These are not genius hour questions. But they are the kinds of questions which occupy and preoccupy our minds and instigate a kind of built-in learning which inevitably shapes the lives we are able to lead and create for ourselves.

These are not school questions but they are the ones we will chew on and make meaning with throughout our lives. These are the questions which become our education once we take our rigid notions of school out of the picture. If we want to think differently, even innovatively about education, we need to re-center human needs rather what the “economy” claims it requires. We need to stop feeding the capitalist monster we have so happily created through our highly trained and supremely wasteful consumer behaviors. We need to uncouple “education” from the neoliberal agenda of deepening social inequality. We need to reclaim education as a human-centered public good that belongs to all of us.

If that sounds ‘pie in the sky’ idealistic to you and me, that’s precisely the problem. To change what we have, there seem to be a lot of things we need to let go of. Idealism is not one of them, however."
sherrispelic  education  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  schools  learning  children  sfsh  doing  being  freedom  thinking  criticalthinking  evidence  pedagogy  authority  expertise  wisdom  interdependence  independence  help  self-advocacy  culture  society  needs  care  caring  childhood  empowerment  life  living  survival  humans  human  idealism  innovation  economics  capitalism  systemsthinking  neoliberalism  inequality  publicgood  engagement  canon  cv  openstudioproject  lcproject 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools? - The New York Times
"The word derives from the Latin word publicus, meaning “of the people.” This concept — that the government belongs to the people and the government should provide for the good of the people — was foundational to the world’s nascent democracies. Where once citizens paid taxes to the monarchy in the hope that it would serve the public too, in democracies they paid taxes directly for infrastructure and institutions that benefited society as a whole. The tax dollars of ancient Athenians and Romans built roads and aqueducts, but they also provided free meals to widows whose husbands died in war. “Public” stood not just for how something was financed — with the tax dollars of citizens — but for a communal ownership of institutions and for a society that privileged the common good over individual advancement.

Early on, it was this investment in public institutions that set America apart from other countries. Public hospitals ensured that even the indigent received good medical care — health problems for some could turn into epidemics for us all. Public parks gave access to the great outdoors not just to the wealthy who could retreat to their country estates but to the masses in the nation’s cities. Every state invested in public universities. Public schools became widespread in the 1800s, not to provide an advantage for particular individuals but with the understanding that shuffling the wealthy and working class together (though not black Americans and other racial minorities) would create a common sense of citizenship and national identity, that it would tie together the fates of the haves and the have-nots and that doing so benefited the nation. A sense of the public good was a unifying force because it meant that the rich and the poor, the powerful and the meek, shared the spoils — as well as the burdens — of this messy democracy."



"As the civil rights movement gained ground in the 1950s and 1960s, however, a series of court rulings and new laws ensured that black Americans now had the same legal rights to public schools, libraries, parks and swimming pools as white Americans. But as black Americans became part of the public, white Americans began to pull away. Instead of sharing their public pools with black residents — whose tax dollars had also paid for them — white Americans founded private clubs (often with public funds) or withdrew behind their fences where they dug their own pools. Public housing was once seen as a community good that drew presidents for photo ops. But after federal housing policies helped white Americans buy their own homes in the suburbs, black Americans, who could not get government-subsidized mortgages, languished in public housing, which became stigmatized. Where once public transportation showed a city’s forward progress, white communities began to fight its expansion, fearing it would give unwanted people access to their enclaves.

As black Americans became part of the public, white Americans began to pull away.

And white Americans began to withdraw from public schools or move away from school districts with large numbers of black children once the courts started mandating desegregation. Some communities shuttered public schools altogether rather than allow black children to share publicly funded schools with white children. The very voucher movement that is at the heart of DeVos’s educational ideas was born of white opposition to school desegregation as state and local governments offered white children vouchers to pay for private schools — known as segregation academies — that sprouted across the South after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in 1954.

“What had been enjoyed as a public thing by white citizens became a place of forced encounter with other people from whom they wanted to be separate,” Bonnie Honig, a professor of political science and modern culture and media at Brown University and author of the forthcoming book “Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair,” told me. “The attractiveness of private schools and other forms of privatization are not just driven by economization but by the desire to control the community with which you interact.”

Even when they fail, the guiding values of public institutions, of the public good, are equality and justice. The guiding value of the free market is profit. The for-profit charters DeVos helped expand have not provided an appreciably better education for Detroit’s children, yet they’ve continued to expand because they are profitable — or as Tom Watkins, Michigan’s former education superintendent, said, “In a number of cases, people are making a boatload of money, and the kids aren’t getting educated.”

Democracy works only if those who have the money or the power to opt out of public things choose instead to opt in for the common good. It’s called a social contract, and we’ve seen what happens in cities where the social contract is broken: White residents vote against tax hikes to fund schools where they don’t send their children, parks go untended and libraries shutter because affluent people feel no obligation to help pay for things they don’t need. “The existence of public things — to meet each other, to fight about, to pay for together, to enjoy, to complain about — this is absolutely indispensable to democratic life,” Honig says.

If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools. Nine of 10 children attend one, a rate of participation that few, if any, other public bodies can claim, and schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix. The vast multiracial, socioeconomically diverse defense of public schools that DeVos set off may show that we have not yet given up on the ideals of the public — and on ourselves."
schools  publicschools  education  2017  democracy  race  integration  segregation  inequality  socialjustice  society  publicgood  power  money  economics  socialcontact  nikolehannah-jones  newdeal  racism 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Ellen Ullman: Life in Code: "A Personal History of Technology" | Talks at Google - YouTube
"The last twenty years have brought us the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside that rising culture of technology, and in Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and went on to become a computer programmer, she was joining a small, idealistic, and almost exclusively male cadre that aspired to genuinely change the world. In 1997 Ullman wrote Close to the Machine, the now classic and still definitive account of life as a coder at the birth of what would be a sweeping technological, cultural, and financial revolution.

Twenty years later, the story Ullman recounts is neither one of unbridled triumph nor a nostalgic denial of progress. It is necessarily the story of digital technology’s loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and it is a personal reckoning with all that has changed, and so much that hasn’t. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty."
ellenullman  bias  algorithms  2017  technology  sexism  racism  age  ageism  society  exclusion  perspective  families  parenting  mothers  programming  coding  humans  humanism  google  larrypage  discrimination  self-drivingcars  machinelearning  ai  artificialintelligence  literacy  reading  howweread  humanities  education  publicschools  schools  publicgood  libertarianism  siliconvalley  generations  future  pessimism  optimism  hardfun  kevinkelly  computing 
october 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

The Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
two sets of universities, two countries, two futures – the ANOVA
"I have no doubt that Yale’s class of 2017 is full of smart, talented, and passionate young people. I wish them the best. I also have no doubt that those among them who may not be talented or hardworking will be wholly inoculated from that condition thanks to the accidents of birth and privilege that helped them reach their rarefied station in the first place. As a socialist, I am not interested in making them more susceptible to material hardship and the vagaries of chance, but rather of giving everyone that same level of protection – and that means raiding the coffers of their school, their parents, and their future employers for the betterment of all. I also don’t doubt that, on balance, graduates of the Connecticut State system will succeed as well. College graduates writ large enjoy a substantial premium in income and unemployment rates over those without degrees, after all. But how hard will they have to struggle, as their instructors are stretched thinner and thinner by these brutal cuts? How many of them will sink deeper into debt as they are forced to take additional semesters of classes to complete their degrees? How many of them will drop out, thanks to these cuts, and suffer under the burden of student loan debt with no degree to help them secure a better life? How many people who could have been saved, as I was saved, now won’t be because of these cuts?

Today’s Yale commencement ceremony, of course, will be stocked with liberals, decent progressive folk who will tell you they believe in equality and social justice. The parents will mostly be liberal Democrats. The student ranks will be filled, no doubt, by genuine radicals, and the faculty with Marxists and socialists. They do good deeds at these places, such as how Yale’s community recently forced the school to change the name of Calhoun College, thanks to John C Calhoun’s history as a slave owner. I celebrate the activist zeal of all involved in such actions. Yet what Yale’s community can’t do – and perhaps wouldn’t, if it could – is to dismantle its place in the engine of American inequality. For all of the decent people involved in that institution, there is no chance that it will ever voluntarily abandon its role as an incubator of the ruling class. To do so would be unthinkable. That’s the reality of higher education: ostensible leftists preside over the ever-accelerating accumulation of power, money, and privilege. A better way is possible, but it cannot be achieved from within campus."
elitisim  ivyleague  inequality  freddiedeboer  2017  highered  highereducation  money  privilege  power  publicgood 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Solving All the Wrong Problems - The New York Times
"We are overloaded daily with new discoveries, patents and inventions all promising a better life, but that better life has not been forthcoming for most. In fact, the bulk of the above list targets a very specific (and tiny!) slice of the population. As one colleague in tech explained it to me recently, for most people working on such projects, the goal is basically to provide for themselves everything that their mothers no longer do.

He was joking — sort of — but his comment made me think hard about who is served by this stuff. I’m concerned that such a focus on comfort and instant gratification will reduce us all to those characters in “Wall-E,” bound to their recliners, Big Gulps in hand, interacting with the world exclusively through their remotes.

Too many well-funded entrepreneurial efforts turn out to promise more than they can deliver (i.e., Theranos’ finger-prick blood test) or read as parody (but, sadly, are not — such as the $99 “vessel” that monitors your water intake and tells you when you should drink more water).

When everything is characterized as “world-changing,” is anything?

Clay Tarver, a writer and producer for the painfully on-point HBO comedy “Silicon Valley,” said in a recent New Yorker article: “I’ve been told that, at some of the big companies, the P.R. departments have ordered their employees to stop saying ‘We’re making the world a better place,’ specifically because we have made fun of that phrase so mercilessly. So I guess, at the very least, we’re making the world a better place by making these people stop saying they’re making the world a better place.”

O.K., that’s a start. But the impulse to conflate toothbrush delivery with Nobel Prize-worthy good works is not just a bit cultish, it’s currently a wildfire burning through the so-called innovation sector. Products and services are designed to “disrupt” market sectors (a.k.a. bringing to market things no one really needs) more than to solve actual problems, especially those problems experienced by what the writer C. Z. Nnaemeka has described as “the unexotic underclass” — single mothers, the white rural poor, veterans, out-of-work Americans over 50 — who, she explains, have the “misfortune of being insufficiently interesting.”

If the most fundamental definition of design is to solve problems, why are so many people devoting so much energy to solving problems that don’t really exist? How can we get more people to look beyond their own lived experience?

In “Design: The Invention of Desire,” a thoughtful and necessary new book by the designer and theorist Jessica Helfand, the author brings to light an amazing kernel: “hack,” a term so beloved in Silicon Valley that it’s painted on the courtyard of the Facebook campus and is visible from planes flying overhead, is also prison slang for “horse’s ass carrying keys.”

To “hack” is to cut, to gash, to break. It proceeds from the belief that nothing is worth saving, that everything needs fixing. But is that really the case? Are we fixing the right things? Are we breaking the wrong ones? Is it necessary to start from scratch every time?

Empathy, humility, compassion, conscience: These are the key ingredients missing in the pursuit of innovation, Ms. Helfand argues, and in her book she explores design, and by extension innovation, as an intrinsically human discipline — albeit one that seems to have lost its way. Ms. Helfand argues that innovation is now predicated less on creating and more on the undoing of the work of others.

“In this humility-poor environment, the idea of disruption appeals as a kind of subversive provocation,” she writes. “Too many designers think they are innovating when they are merely breaking and entering.”

In this way, innovation is very much mirroring the larger public discourse: a distrust of institutions combined with unabashed confidence in one’s own judgment shifts solutions away from fixing, repairing or improving and shoves them toward destruction for its own sake. (Sound like a certain presidential candidate? Or Brexit?)

Perhaps the main reason these frivolous products and services frustrate me is because of their creators’ insistence that changing lives for the better is their reason for being. To wit, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who has invested in companies like Airbnb and Twitter but also in services such as LikeALittle (which started out as a flirting tool among college students) and Soylent (a sort of SlimFast concoction for tech geeks), tweeted last week: “The perpetually missing headline: ‘Capitalism worked okay again today and most people in the world got a little better off.’ ”

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, where such companies are based, sea level rise is ominous, the income gap between rich and poor has been growing faster than in any other city in the nation, a higher percentage of people send their kids to private school than in almost any other city, and a minimum salary of $254,000 is required to afford an average-priced home. Who exactly is better off?

Ms. Helfand calls for a deeper embrace of personal vigilance: “Design may provide the map,” she writes, “but the moral compass that guides our personal choices resides permanently within us all.”

Can we reset that moral compass? Maybe we can start by not being a bunch of hacks."
2016  allisonarieff  siliconvalley  problemsolving  disruption  claytarver  sanfrancisco  capitalism  jessicahelfand  books  invention  narcissism  theranos  comfort  instantgratification  hacking  innovation  publicdiscourse  publicgood  inequality  marcandreessen  morality  moralcompass  soylent  venturecapitalism  brexit  us  priorities 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Privatization of Childhood Play — Pacific Standard
"With playdates replacing free childhood play, it’s upper-class families who set the social norms — and working-class families who pay the price.

Kids used to play outside more. They would hopscotch through the streets, assembling games of stickball and breaking glass soda bottles for fun. Parents would tell their children to be home for dinner and then forget about them until dark.

That golden age of unstructured play was real — scholars place it in the second quarter of the 20th century — but the children who lived it are now senior citizens. If you’re currently alive, you probably played less than your parents did. Between 1981 and 1997, for example, six- to eight-year-olds lost 25 percent of their play time. We aren’t romanticizing some fictional American idyll — kids really are playing less today, even if you include video games. And for some kids, even play is now a regimented and supervised activity.

We live in an era of the playdate, when aspirational parenting means being your child’s agent and chauffeur. The idea of kids so busy they need adult secretaries to pencil in time with their friends is both silly and real. Take New York mom Tamara Mose: Her son and daughter’s weekly schedule includes piano, Kumon (a chic approach to private tutoring), taekwondo, regular tutoring, dance, and soccer. She’s lucky if she has time for a playdate.

Mose is a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, and when one playdate connection turned into an invitation to deliver a talk about her first book, she became more interested in the repercussions of the phenomenon. Were other parents using playdates for professional networking? “I started noticing that I was gaining some kind of benefit through the playdate experience,” Mose tells me, “and I thought, ‘I wonder if this is a thing.’” The result is The Playdate: Parents, Children and the New Expectations of Play, a book-length study of playdate dynamics in New York City.

According to Mose, the biggest difference between simple play and an official playdate is that playdates are work. Playdates aren’t just scheduled, they’re prepared. They have expenses, and they can succeed or fail. A parent who serves the wrong kind of crunchy cheese snack could be jeopardizing their family’s place in the social hierarchy. Kids play, adults — or, more accurately, moms — make playdates.

The question at the heart of The Playdate is why do moms bother? The dates that Mose describes are labor-intensive and anxiety-ridden. A Pew analysis of time-use surveys found that average weekly hours of work for mothers increased slightly between 1965 and 2011 as a significant decrease in unpaid housework was offset by increases in waged work and childcare. Weekly maternal childcare hours increased from 10.2 to 13.5.

So what purposes, exactly, do playdates serve?

One explanation for the emergence of supervised play is that American parents got more serious about protecting their kids from harm. An evolutionary psychologist might point to declining birth rates and a historic shortage of back-up children. Death by unintentional injury for kids under 15 has fallen by more than half since the early 1970s; maybe the golden age of play was really a plague of parental negligence. Maybe playdates save little lives.

There might be some truth to the safety justification for playdates, but not much. Sociologist Annette Lareau coined the term “concerted cultivation” for the kind of parenting that involves a full schedule and constant oversight. Lareau contrasted concerted cultivation with the “natural growth” style, and found that both were class-linked, with upper- and upper-middle-class moms practicing the former, and working-class and poor moms the latter. It’s a pattern that Mose found in her research as well, with rich white moms setting the playdate standard. If concerted cultivation and playdate parenting were responsible for the drop in child-killing accidents, we would see a class division in the data.

In fact, childhood injury mortality has declined (in absolute terms) more in high-poverty counties than in low ones. Kid safety has more to do with general crime rates (child victimization is down across the board, from homicides to kidnappings to sexual assault) and with seatbelt-buckling than with helicopter parenting. “There’s never been a safer time to be a kid in America,” the Washington Post’s stats-based Wonkblog declared, and as automated cars replace human drivers things will only get safer.

Playdates, like other elements of the concerted-cultivation mode of parenting, are about a different kind of security. “Given the precarity of work in general — people are not working for companies for 20 or 30 years the way they used to — there’s this threat that the economy could crumble at any moment,” Mose says. “So what you find is there’s this learned fear that parents have for their children, because we don’t know what the economic situation is going to look like down the road.” Managing a child’s play schedule ensures they don’t pick up any bad influences that will steer them from the path to college and success on the job market.

Like royal marriages, concerted parents set up playdates that are socially advantageous, for the parents themselves and for their children’s imagined futures. “Parents are unsure of what is happening in terms of their children’s future, and we want [children] to be prepared, so we over-prepare them,” Mose says. “What we do in the playdate is create a play that is mediated at every level. And when it’s mediated at every level, parents think that they can determine which direction they’re leading their child, and maybe that offers them some type of security.”

As a social phenomenon, playdates are something like private schools. Wealthier parents remove their kids from public and sequester them somewhere with a guest list and a cover charge. Mose uses the term “enclosure” — when a public or common resource is fenced and privatized. Brooklyn developers brag about the borough’s diversity, but the parents Mose interviewed were using playdates to shield their kids from people who weren’t like them. The app MomCo even lets moms (a selfie is required for “gender verification”) search for suitable matches from their smartphones.

When wealthier people don’t use a public resource, it tends to degrade. Not because the rich hold things together, but because the government cares less about people who aren’t rich. This goes for the literal paving on streets, but also the symbolic space for unstructured childhood play. In 2014, South Carolina mother Debra Harrell was jailed for leaving her nine-year-old daughter in a park while she worked at a nearby McDonald’s. A Reason poll commissioned afterward found that average Americans don’t think kids should be allowed to do anything more independent than play in the front yard until they’re 12 years old. Natural growth parenting has been stigmatized and even criminalized.

Upper-class parenting practices that require a surplus of time, money, and private space set the standard for comparison. As a black mother routinely engaged in interracial playdates, Mose describes the pressure to make sure her children play the right way: “I always wanted to present as a decent black family because I know of the stereotypes out there about black families and black children,” she says. “So I always wanted to make sure my home was clean, I always wanted to make sure that appropriate food was being offered, and appropriate meaning organic or fruits and vegetables, not junky food or anything like that.” With professional connections and social prestige up for grabs, a playdate is not a game.

But, as Mose reminds me, there are also higher stakes. “We are reproducing inequality today through the enclosure of a playdate,” she says. “Through the privatization of play, we are reproducing inequality in our children.”"
children  play  society  playdates  parenting  malcolmharris  2016  inequality  history  tamaramose  race  class  us  networking  diversity  publicgood  publicresources 
may 2016 by robertogreco
When They Promise the Netflix for Education, Cover Your Wallet | Just Visiting
"According to education consultant Michael Horn,[1] college has a lot in common with “your cable TV package.”

Horn says, “You really want just the accounting degree and you also get the football team alongside it. You’re paying for things that you will never ever use. It’s not tailored to actual needs.”

Horn (and his disruptor ilk) maintain that education needs to be “Netflixed.”

Do we really need to run through these arguments again and point out that education is not merely a content delivery system? Did the great MOOC hype collapse not already expose this fiction?

We already have things that are the educational equivalent of Netflix. I call them libraries, and guess what? They’re even better than Netflix because rather than relying solely on algorithms, they come stocked with trained professionals who will help you fulfill your content needs.

But never mind, because like all things, education must be disrupted. I just wish for once, the disruptors spoke to actual, you know, students before engaging in their disruptory ways.

Someone who thinks that football is not important to college choice must not be aware of student attitudes at places like Alabama, Clemson, or University of Michigan, where you will find many non-athlete students who indeed chose the school because of the football team.

But remember that Horn is not an educator. These people are never educators. He comes out of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation Boogaloo. He is now a principal in something called Entangled Solutions, a higher ed consultancy that uses their “startup connections to bring cutting edge technology to the academic world.”

Interestingly, the principals at Entangled Solutions with their “let them eat competency” attitudes have degrees from U. Chicago, Yale, Harvard MBA, CalTech, and Wharton.[2]

Their enemy is accreditation, and so Horn and others have formed a “task force” to challenge the control accreditors have over which institutions get access to federal grant and loan money. If they are successful, they will “open the door for the Airbnbs and Ubers of higher education.”

Do you join me in wondering how the introduction of rent-seeking entities into higher education could possibly benefit the broader public?

I don’t doubt these people deep down mean well, and sincerely believe their own B.S., but let’s not lose sight of the fact that it is B.S., and these companies are indeed on the grift. If their ideas were so good, they wouldn’t need to attach themselves to the public teat to fund them.

Indeed, programming bootcamps have managed to thrive in the marketplace, with the chief strategy officer at Reactor Core, the parent of the successful Hack Reactor camps telling the Washington Post that seeking accreditation, “Seemed like a lot of overhead and no real benefit for the students.”

Hack Reactor and the bootcamps like it are filling an underserved niche and bringing benefit to their customers and the industries they serve. For now. It seems inevitable that this sector too will overshoot the mark of demand and some providers will fall by the wayside, as they should in a free and open market.

Not satisfied with nibbling at the underserved edges, the higher ed disruptor crowd flat doesn’t like how college works, not in terms of education, but as a marketplace, and want to take their own shot at the problem. They don’t want to compete with legacy institutions so much as wreck them so they can rise in their place.
It’s unfortunate then, that our futuristic saviors seem to know so little about actual human beings.

It’s true, many fewer people would be interested in a four-year college experience if it didn’t come bundled with a degree. And yet, when you talk to students they will name dozens of other reasons they are glad to be in college: to grow as a person, to figure out what they want to do, to make friends and connections, to learn, to have fun, and yes, to go to football games.

College is like life, something to be lived, experienced, and we can't really predict or quantify the outcomes.

If you talk to students (and I do) and ask them if they want or would benefit from an “unbundled” education, you will find very few who answer in the affirmative.
My students are somewhere between befuddled by (Why would anyone want that?) and terrified of (I would fail, hard) such a future.

I teach a very traditional cohort of students, and the traditional college and university structure doesn’t make sense for everyone pursuing post-secondary education. There is indeed a role for competency-based education serving industries where discrete, demonstrable skills are necessary.

Though, I remember a time when the business themselves provided this service and called it “training,” but never mind.

And I am not one to deny the very real problems institutions face. The cost of college to students is a crisis. Of course the cause of this crisis is the disinvestment of public money in education, a fact the disruptor crowd almost always ignores because to acknowledge it would mean casting doubt over the necessity for disruption.

They see public disinvestment as a fixed state of being, as opposed to a reversible policy choice.

The idea that we’ll technology our way out of this is a fantasy. Entangled Solutions should know this better than anyone, as one of its other principals, Paul Freedman, had his first educational venture, Altius Education, which was supposed to help people move from associates degrees to four-year colleges, go splat after underperforming, and attracting a Justice Department investigation.[3]

But the disruptors continue to push a narrative of broken institutions, failing students, and too much of the policy-making public is willing to accept that story.

I have a counter-narrative, the oldest one in the book: History repeats itself.

Just as the worst actors of the for-profit industry slink off the stage, followed by lawsuits and government fines, we see our techno-solutionists stepping into the breach, claiming that higher education is “over-regulated.”
Tell that to the former customers of Corinthian Colleges.[4]
Different players, same game. Let’s not be fooled."
2016  johnwarner  education  michaelhorn  highered  highereducation  claytonchristensen  publicgood  funding  unbundling  corinthiancollege  privatization  forprofit  disruption  technology  training  competency  policy 
february 2016 by robertogreco
You’re Not an Asshole, Mark Zuckerberg. You’re Just Wrong. |
"Why is it problematic when a businessman pledges to donate 99% of his personal shares in company stock (valued close to $45 billion) to philanthropy?

The popular argument against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s display of altruism is that it is not a charitable donation; by the letter of the law he is funding a LLC, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, rather than a 501(c)(3). This means the activities *for the public good* will include private investment and policy debates, activities not allowed under the legal jurisdiction of non-profit status. This has been called philanthrocapitalism, tax-efficient generosity that allows the richest Americans greater latitude in which to use their finances for ideological purposes.

The argument for such legal maneuvering of philanthropic endeavors is pragmatic; there is longstanding, government-rewarded benefit in establishing a for-profit mechanism within a donation initiative. These benefits are usually addressed as opportunities to react to changing landscapes and partnership needs working between organizations and governments, which under charitable trusts is not as nimble as it is for an organization unencumbered by tax-exempt status. Whereas there is a gravitas toward the Annenberg Foundation or the Hewlett Foundation as patriarchs of domestic and international philanthropic efforts, part of their infrastructure is an inability to pivot their strategy. Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will not find its aims beholden to a singular mission; this makes them different from groups such as Riordan Foundation funding SMART Boards as evidence of scholastic merit despite ample evidence to the contrary. They can adapt, change, innovate.

I trust Mark Zuckerberg’s purpose for this movement is principled more than it is pragmatic. I find the LLC vs 501(c)(3) argument a straw man one as well; there are many ways he can use the money, many ways he can use the money in what we call a charitable fashion. The LLC in and of itself is not evidence of nefarious plans, nor is announcing a donation of 99% of his wealth to bettering the public good.

I have gone out of my way to not refer to the pledge of $45 billion as charity or philanthropy, however. While his intentions may be for the public good, they as misguided and harmful. Moreover, it is indicative of social and cultural erosion, showing a social structure where monetary success is not only more important than field-specific expertise but it purports the wealthy to an illusory status of Renaissance Men, their successes not narrow but holistic evidence to solve the problems of All Others.

John Cassidy’s critique in the New Yorker goes out of its way to steer clear of education debates, but Zuckerberg’s history as a donor to education reform is quite germane to the discussion. In America, access to quality education is promoted as an inalienable right. Education has long existed as a social structure, evidence to how our society views its purpose. Efforts to improve student achievement are going to be bound in equity and access. I struggle to think about student achievement conversations where we require charity or philanthropy in order for all citizens to have equal access to their inalienable right. When Zuckerberg gave $100 million to Newark Public Schools, it was a strings-attached political donation, not charity. Improving student achievement took a backseat to the politics of merit pay and consultancies for new bureaucratic management. This is not surprising; historically, merit pay and administrative overhead do not improve student achievement.

What does improve student achievement? The financial situation at home. Caroline Hoxby of the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, notes the most efficacious way to improve the outcomes of the lowest income students is to put money in the pockets of their parents. The United States as a society does not believe in direct wealth redistribution, however, so our distribution metrics are almost entirely geared toward education services. Hoxby argues that the schools receiving these distributions are flawed and charter schools are the solution, which is where I disagree — if family finances are the most compelling indicator of success, then the efforts at school are always going to be secondary, no matter how efficacious the school experience.

The past solutions and future reform thinking presented by Mark Zuckerberg does not involve income redistribution or even support services beyond school walls. Most likely, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will develop more structures and systems that can function independent of the educational infrastructure. Mark Zuckerberg’s public statements on education reform support merit pay and personalized learning, contentious ideas considered discredited by many. The genesis of both beliefs are evident within the start-up culture that fostered Facebook, where meritocracy reigns supreme and *coding* can do as much for human equity as government. In the world of Mark Zuckerberg, supporting these missions with wealth and political force is not only sensible but an obligatory service to the public good.

The libertarian dreamscape of start-up culture does not, however, fiat to the bureaucratic labyrinth of education. Charter schools have not circumvented governmental obstacles, and early forays into technosolutionism have fallen flat. If governance is inextricable from education (a notion supported from the Enlightenment to today), any effort to avoid its shadow is doomed. To argue that education is not a public good could create space for the success of such efforts, but the purpose of philanthropy such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is marketed as service to the public good.

The best provision for positively influencing the education system is to provide for it through established, research-solidified channels. That means trusting the experts and using the leverage that comes with $45 billion to support multiple existing systems rather than building multiple new ones. But the ethos of Silicon Valley is to fail fast and to Fail Better, which is fine for privately traded companies made up of wealthy employees but a terrible framework to put on a social superstructure that has promised since the Enlightenment to be humanity’s conduit for upward mobility and social justice. It is not in the public good for schools to fail fast and Fail Better. In Silicon Valley it is okay for Udacity to fail with its SJSU roll-out or for Facebook to fail with its Newark Public Schools roll-out. These are companies with venture capital to cushion the hiccups, and even if the failure led to the end of the company, society only loses an instance of software-as-a-service. When the educational experience at SJSU turns out worse because of Udacity, or Newark Public Schools go through tremendous upheaval for no discernible benefit thanks to Facebook, our culture loses much more than the money it cost to put on the failed initiative. No matter the talk of learning from mistakes or doing better, the system has yet again failed, and the structure in place to mitigate that failure and was circumvented is left to glue the pieces back together. The students in these classrooms incubation labs have been failed to a significant degree, more so than any Fail Better rhetoric can fix.

The creation of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, LLC, is a protection mechanism. Most writing has focused on how it protects the financial portfolio of the Zuckerberg family, but the real protection is of their philanthropic legacy. They can talk about the public good and act by pushing money and policy toward ideology and push-button solutions, apologizing when its results are not as intended and promising to do better with the rest of the billions. The right decisions for the legacy of the philanthropist do not become the right policies for the philanthropy because they were borne of good intentions. There is an inherent flawed logic to the idea that saving the world is a private enterprise."
markzuckerberg  policy  power  politics  influence  democracy  2015  philanthrocapitalism  charity  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  society  us  rolinmoe  johncassidy  priscillachan  facebook  udacity  education  publicgood  publicpolicy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
News isn’t for the billionaire few » Nieman Journalism Lab
“Media should never be permitted to become a mere megaphone for the exclusive use of the rich to impose their views on the rest of us.”



"In August 2013, billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos agreed to buy The Washington Post for $250 million. Last month, Bezos boasted of his paper’s having surpassed The New York Times in number of online viewers. The Post’s goal, he says, is to become “the new paper of record.”

Bezos is far from being the first zillionaire to attempt to control the press (¡Hola, Señor Hearst!), and he won’t be the last. But controlling media is not an appropriate ambition for a businessman to have in a democratic society. That one of the nation’s largest papers will have to think twice before reporting on the practices of one of its largest public companies (or, presumably, about that company’s competitors, or about e-commerce in general, or about any bee that may wander into the Bezos bonnet) is absurd. (The crickets that could be heard emanating from the Post in the wake of the New York Times exposé of Amazon’s office culture are highly suggestive of such a chilling effect.)

2015 saw an increase in meddling, unprincipled rich men’s attempts to buy influence through journalism. Last week, the largest paper in Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was acquired by an unnamed owner who was later confirmed to be the family of billionaire Sheldon Adelson — and it appears he may have been using the paper’s reporters for his own purposes even before the ink was dry. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is paying roughly $266 million for the South China Morning Post, thereby controlling the world’s principal source of English-language coverage of China, once owned by that other politically-inclined media magnate, Rupert Murdoch. There is talk that the highly opinionated billionaire Eli Broad may buy the ailing Los Angeles Times.

But Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have to buy a newspaper in order to control media read by hundreds of millions of people; when he and his wife welcomed a new baby daughter, Max, into their family last month, the billionaire wrote the baby a letter, complete with bullet points, pledging to give, at some point, nearly all of his $45 billion worth of Facebook stock to his own new philanthrocapitalist LLC. Last week, Zuckerberg announced his personal approval of Muslims on Facebook and his desire to “build a better world for all people.” #yay. I mean, doubtless, that is a skosh better than announcing his personal opposition to Muslims, as the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination has been busy doing.

Facebook is already free to control, with zero transparency, exactly what news articles, videos, and other media appear on each and every one of the 1.55 billion individual timelines comprising its social media empire. Zuckerberg is not the leader of anything but a company, and it’s shocking that more journalists aren’t freaking out about this and other, similar power grabs under the Orwellian banner of “philanthrocapitalism.”

You know what is good for all people? Paying, as the rest of us democratically-inclined citizens are happy to do, a fair share of your personal wealth into all the people’s public coffers, where it can be spent by their fairly elected representatives on the common good, rather than keeping it locked up in untaxable stocks and mystery foundations, to be spent where you personally will decide what is good for them.

Media should never be permitted to become a mere megaphone for the exclusive use of the rich to impose their views on the rest of us. With any luck, this is the year our profession wakes up to this dangerous state of affairs and takes steps to protect the interests of a free and independent press."
mariabustilllos  2015  media  journalism  inequality  facebook  philanthrocapitalism  power  wealth  wealthinequality  control  publicgood  commongood 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Democracy and the common good | Deborah Meier on Education
"I am taking note of all the ways we are privatizing our society and abandoning our belief in democracy, the “common good”, the public space, call it what you will. The New York Times (Nov 2nd) had a front page headline on the “Privatization of the Justice System.” We have always known it helps sway the judge and jury if you are rich, have top lawyers, etc. But this is about the many areas in which people often unwittingly agree to give up their right to ever see a judge and jury if they have a grievance, but are forced to use private arbitrators and cannot sign on to any class-action suit.

The more egalitarian our definition of citizenship the more concern there is by some about the “idea” of one person, one vote. Too many of the choices the privatizers are now suggesting open up more possibilities for some than others. The choice of going to a private school with a voucher is not actually a choice if you haven’t the means to pay the difference or aren’t “chosen.” Yes, you have a choice of cars to buy…but. The data I have read about the number of poor people who do not have the choice of a lawyer to represent their interests. No surprise: some choices cost a lot ore than others.

The idea of democracy comes out of an idea of the “common good”—a way to hold rulers accountable to all. However who belonged to that “all” was not everyone. Sometimes it was, in fact, a very small proportion of the entire population. But it assumed that among those who had full citizenship there was good reason to have considerable trust. It assumed that most citizens had their peers interest at heart, even if they interpreted it differently. It assumed free speech, free assembly, and mutual respect— win some, lose some. It was an answer to royal inherited power—instead “the people” had the power. When we expanded full citizenship to include men without property, women, former slaves, etc. it naturally become harder to identity what our “common interests” were. Some “wins” seemed too dangerous to those with more power to let free choice play itself out. It was not obvious to some parents, for example, that “their” precious child was of equal interest to those who determined school policy.

That is what we are struggling with these days in school “reform”—and it will not be easily solved in a society that holds private space as more precious than public space, especially when some have a lot more private space than others have, in the order of thousands of times more."
deborahmeier  2015  society  democracy  commongood  public  publicspace  publicgood  citizenship  civics  commoninterests  individualism  privatization  capitalism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
High-income Americans are more segregated than ever | Stanford Graduate School of Education
"“If advantaged families do not share social environments and public institutions with low‐income families, they may be less likely to support investment in these shared resources. Such a shift in collective commitment to the public good may have far‐reaching consequences for social inequality,” said Reardon."
inequality  seanreardon  kendrabischoff  segregation  2015  us  civics  socialgood  publicgood  incomeinequality 
september 2015 by robertogreco
We don’t trust drinking fountains anymore, and that’s bad for our health - The Washington Post
"Fountains were once a revered feature of urban life, a celebration of the tremendous technological and political capital it takes to provide clean drinking water to a community. Today, they’re in crisis. Though no one tracks the number of public fountains nationally, researchers say they’re fading from America’s parks, schools and stadiums. “Water fountains have been disappearing from public spaces throughout the country over the last few decades,” lamented Nancy Stoner, an administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency’s water office. Water scholar Peter Gleick writes that they’ve become “an anachronism, or even a liability.” Jim Salzman, author of “Drinking Water: A History,” says they’re “going the way of pay phones.”

Even the International Plumbing Code, followed by builders in most American cities, has signaled that the fountain is out of style. In the 2015 edition of the manual, which lays out recommendations on matters such as the number of bathrooms an office should have and how pipes should work, authors slashed the number of required fountains for each building by half.

This loss isn’t a result of some major technological disruption. While U.S. consumption of bottled water quadrupled between 1993 and 2012 (reaching 9.67 billion gallons annually), that’s more a symptom than a cause. What’s changed in the past two decades is our attitude toward public space, government and water itself. “Most people over the age of 40 have really positive stories of drinking fountains as kids,” says Scott Francisco, who helped organize the Union Square event with Pilot Projects, an urban design company. The sense today, though, is that “they’re dangerous, they’re not maintained and they’re dirty.”

In short, we don’t trust public fountains anymore. And it’s making us poorer, less healthy and less green."



"The disappearance of water fountains has hurt public health. Centers for Disease Control researcher Stephen Onufrak has found that the less young people trust water fountains, the more sugary beverages they drink. Studies have found that kids who consume sugary drinks regularly are 60 percent more likely to be obese, and adults who do so are 26 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

The reliance on bottled water rather than fountains also has serious environmental effects. According to the Earth Policy Institute, it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to create the 50 billion plastic water bottles Americans use each year. (That’s enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars for a year.) Less than a quarter of those bottles are recycled. And these statistics don’t even account for the fuel used in transporting the water around the country and the world.

Bottled water is also expensive. Drinking eight glasses of tap water a day costs about 49 cents a year. If you got that hydration exclusively from bottles, you’d pay about $1,400, or 2,900 times more. If you’re living at the poverty line, that’s 10 percent of your income.

The transition away from fountains has also made it harder to access water in public. For example, in 2007, the University of Central Florida built a 45,000-seat stadium with no fountains. The university claimed they were too expensive to install and maintain. Selling bottled water at $3 a bottle, meanwhile, would generate profits. But at the opening game, with temperatures reaching near 100 degrees, vendors ran out of water. Some 60 attendees were treated for heat-related issues; 18 were hospitalized for heat exhaustion. The university eventually installed 50 fountains.

There is some good news. Some cities are slowly bringing back — or at least increasing maintenance of — water fountains. In 2013, Los Angeles put together a comprehensive plan to upgrade and restore public water fountains. In 2008, Minneapolis spent $500,000 on 10 new fountains designed by local artists. In Washington, the nonprofit group TapIt promotes access to tap water by pushing businesses to provide free water-bottle-refilling stations. Other cities, including New York, Seattle and San Francisco, have taken steps to stop using bottled water in government buildings.

Evelyn Wendel launched WeTap, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to public water promotion, after noticing that the fountains at the park where her kids played were frequently broken or dirty. “We can make improvements by teaching how valuable our municipal water is and making it available in schools and parks,” she says. “It’s a measurement of the success of humanity when you have free water for the community.”"
ater  drinkingfountains  us  2015  health  sustainability  public  publicgood  bottledwater 
july 2015 by robertogreco
No, You Don’t Have Free Speech Online - Pacific Standard
"The Sunlight Foundation’s “Politwoops” was one of the best things Twitter had going for it. The project scraped and archived Tweets posted by politicians who later deleted them, contending that these messages weren’t just in the public realm but were in the public interest (as statements made by elected officials). Despite running afoul of Twitter’s terms of service, the project ran for years until the social media company finally killed it last week.

Just a few weeks prior, right-wing blogger Chuck Johnson was booted from Twitter after months of sustained threats and harassment. While Johnson cried “free speech!,” Sunlight’s analysis was far more savvy.

“Our shared conversations are increasingly taking place in privately owned and managed walled gardens, which means that the politics that occur in such conversations are subject to private rules.”

“Twitter’s decision to pull the plug on Politwoops is a reminder of how the Internet isn’t truly a public square,” Sunlight Foundation president Christopher Gates wrote. “Our shared conversations are increasingly taking place in privately owned and managed walled gardens, which means that the politics that occur in such conversations are subject to private rules.”

[embedded tweet]

Despite the apparent obviousness of this, the “free speech” argument persists. So why won’t this die? Why won’t users on Twitter, Facebook, and other private platforms see that they’re hanging out in a business, not in a public square? Why don’t they want to?

When Facebook, Google, and others claimed to be free speech advocates after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, their motivations were clear: It’s vital to their business models that we feel free, so that we give up as much personal data as possible. The survival of the social Web is predicated on ad sales organized around compiled user information, not on witty commentary. Twitter is an interesting place to talk about the news and receive rape threats between sponsored Gap ads, but it’s also a private place: It is only accountable to us insofar as we are its customers, and it doesn’t want (too many of) us to leave.

It’s vital to their business models that we feel free, so that we give up as much personal data as possible.

Did Twitter ban Chuck Johnson to better protect its other users? Maybe. Did Twitter ban Chuck Johnson because it was better for business than not banning Chuck Johnson? Definitely. When Twitter banned Sunlight’s Politwoops, it was also protecting a portion of its user base—one with more institutional power than Johnson’s victims.

We all seem to want it both ways. On one hand, we expect these walled gardens to protect us from invasive government spy programs, and we’re outraged when they don’t. On another, we expect them to act as a public utility, an arm of government, protecting our constitutional rights. But Twitter can ban whoever it wants. Twitter has no responsibility to free speech.

The libertarian spirit and ideology that founded and fostered the Internet is, in many ways, the same one that gave rise to its rapid commercialization. Private, user-friendly platforms are eating the open Internet—they’ve become synonymous with it, and, in some cases, even transcended it. They can be tremendous tools, but, as long as a bulk of our interpersonal communications are mediated by these businesses, our speech won’t be free. Laws protect platforms’ right to host or not to host our speech, whatever our speech may be. Ultimately, we’ve traded connectivity and convenience for the original populist promise of the Internet.

Now that we’ve entrusted our social contract to Twitter and Facebook, we are left without much recourse. We can complain. We can tell Twitter it is doing the wrong thing. We do this a lot. Maybe it will listen. But ultimately it’ll do the best thing for business. Enforcement in the walled gardens is capricious, but mostly it is capitalist.

Even libertarian Chuck Johnson doesn’t want to accept this. The “free speech” claims persist. And so I’ve started to read them less as a demand, and more as a dream. If Johnson and his supporters want Twitter to uphold “freedom of speech,” they should support turning it into an actual public utility—after all, we’re doing much to subsidize the industry as it is. I’d happily be a member of a nationalized Facebook, even if Chuck Johnson is there too."

[via: https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/609125305899425792

in response to my tweeting: “all social media tech converging on multi-media messaging (1to1, group, broadcast) aspiring to be *the* monopoly, resisting interoperability. time to declare social media as a utility (like phone lines), set standards, remove the data/phone distinction from mobile connections? This is surely not a novel idea, so any pointers to writing about this?” ]
internet  facebooks  walledgardens  internetasutiity  freespeech  proprietaryspaces  publicspace  commons  web  online  twitter  commercialization  publicgood  2015  susiecagle 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Denying New York Libraries the Fuel They Need - NYTimes.com
"Suppose you guess where people spend at least some of their time in the city.

For instance, what attractions draw the most visitors?

A. Major museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum or Museum of the City of New York.

B. Libraries, including the neighborhood branches and research centers.

C. Performing arts, like those at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, City Center and Snug Harbor.

D. Sports teams like the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Jets and Giants.

E. Natural-world attractions: the botanical gardens, Wave Hill, the zoos and aquariums.

Lots of people buy tickets for sports, even if they don’t always show up. Last year, the Yankees listed attendance as 3.4 million; the Mets, 2.14 million. At Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, the two basketball teams and the Rangers hockey team brought in a total of 2.2 million. The two professional football teams in northern New Jersey drew 1.3 million.

Those hefty numbers add up to about nine million. How about attendance at museums, live performances and zoos? “Approximately 21 million New Yorkers and other visitors attended the 33 city-owned museums, performing arts centers, botanical gardens, zoos and historical sites,” the mayor’s office reported in September.

But wait.

The city’s libraries — the fusty old buildings, and a few spiffier modern ones, planted in all five boroughs — had 37 million visitors in the last fiscal year, said Angela Montefinise, a spokeswoman for the New York Public Library, which runs branches and research centers in Manhattan and the Bronx and on Staten Island. The Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library have their own extensive systems.

So the city’s libraries have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos — combined.

No one who has set foot in the libraries — crowded at all hours with adults learning languages, using computers, borrowing books, hunting for jobs, and schoolchildren researching projects or discovering stories — can mistake them for anything other than power plants of intellect and opportunity. They are distributed without regard to wealth.

Over the last decade, they have not gotten anywhere near the kind of capital funding enjoyed by sports teams.

From the 2006 fiscal year through 2014, the city budgeted at least $464 million to build new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets, and $156 million for the Barclays Center. That’s $620 million for just those three sports arenas — a sum more than one-third greater than the $453 million that the city committed for capital improvements to the its 206 branch libraries and four research centers, which serve roughly seven times as many people a year as attend baseball games. (The budget figures were provided by the city’s Independent Budget Office; the teams are getting an additional $680 million in subsidies spread over 40 years.)

For decades, the libraries have served a single function in the city budget process: hostages. Mayors say they have to cut library hours to make the financial books balance. The City Council rises up in outrage. During the negotiations, hours are ultimately restored, usually swapped for something else that the mayor actually wants.

Despite these annual rescues, library hours in New York “trail behind cities throughout the nation,” according to a study by David Giles published this month by the Center for an Urban Future."
nyc  libraries  nypl  learning  funding  books  education  2015  publicgood 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/115896934920/on-secret-keeping-and-forgetting ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."



"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."



"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."



"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."



"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The BBC, the licence fee and the digital public space | openDemocracy
"The Controller of the BBC’s archive strategy maintains the institution’s fundamental role within the media ecology and argues that the Licence Fee should safeguard a new democratic digital public space."



"So what would the ‘Digital Public Space’ look like?

It should have all the original values of the ‘Analogue Public Space’, plus some amazing new features and services that were previously impossible or unimaginable:

1. It would ensure a guarantee of access to a protected allocation of internet bandwidth for every citizen, free at the point of use, at home and in key public places – conceptually similar to frequencies within the broadcast spectrum reserved for Public Service Broadcasting

2. The Digital Public Space will offer an ever growing digital library of digitised media and assets from our publicly funded organisations: our public service broadcasters, our museums, libraries and archives, our institutions of education and our public services.

3. The Digital Public Space will offer innovative products and services that allow people to access, contribute to and communicate with the public and cultural sectors

4. Users can be safe and secure to discover, use and share without fear of loss or theft or unintended exposure of their personal data and creative endeavours

5. The Digital Public Space works through unmetered consumption, free at the point, of use for every person, regardless of status or ability. The Digital Public Space will not require a broadband subscription. It will be available anywhere across the UK, at any time, to anyone.

6. And finally: the Digital Public Space cannot be taken away.

To get there, perhaps we may need help from the source that created the BBC in the first place – an ambitious desire for there to be an infrastructure constantly developed in the public interest. The combination of Real Thought and Significant Engineering. In fact we already have that remit written into the BBC charter. The sixth public purpose for the BBC states:

(f) in promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies ...

I believe that to understand the BBC’s relevance in the 21st Century, we need to ask, not just “what is the BBC for?” but also “what is the Licence Fee for?” They are not the same thing but, inadvertently, we have allowed them to be seen as the same.

I think we should go back to first principles and consider the emerging needs of all Licence Fee Payers – not only those who actually pay the fee itself – and ensure that in the future each and every one of us has guaranteed access to the public sphere, control over their own data and identity and enduring services that they can trust and depend on.

We used to be broadcast beings. We are now internet beings. However with more and higher barriers to entry to the digital realm we must work hard to ensure that nobody is stripped of the ability to be a citizen of the future.

I believe that is, and has always been, the higher calling for both the BBC and the Licence Fee."

[See also: “A digital public space is Britain’s missing national institution | Technology | The Guardian” (Jemima Kiss)
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/05/digital-public-space-britain-missing-national-institution ]
2015  tonyageh  bbc  uk  digitalpublicspace  digitalsocialism  jemimakiss  history  television  tv  media  publicgood  publicspace  licencefee  web  online  internet 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Civic Workshop
"A group of people producing and making new culture - looking at ways to reframe our everyday local experiences with an awareness of our collective social and political future."



"The Civic Bureau is now open and the live data from the Census can be seen here.

Census statistics have been the core of social architecture for thousands of years and it is the key tool that directs huge amounts of public funding in both the UK and India. Between 2001-11 the UK census directed the allocation of £1 trillion worth of government spending but the questions, methods and format has remained the same for many years.

The Government has started to explore how to update the census to make better use of technological advances and data expertise.

We want to explore how the census can build a steady accumulation of civic records that can facilitate a different relationship between citizens and the state.

Our first experiment, the Civic Bureau begins at Somerset House, as part of the Civic Workshop residency. Over the coming months we will be inviting the public to take part.

We are interested in how the census can make better use of civic technology and what the census would look like if done at a City level, built on the idea of the city as a public good. This raises questions about how people participate and how often, what kinds of information people want to give towards a "public good" and what would feel representative of their everyday lives.

We have partnered with a team at the ICRI Cities lab at University College London, and will be showcasing Sens-Us, an interactive Citizen Census, at Somerset House. Sens-Us will be based on the VoxBox technology, developed at UCL, which is an innovative way to gather opinions through a “tangible questionnaire” as opposed to filling out forms.

The Civic Bureau will be open from January 15th for one month."
openstudioproject  lcproject  civicworkshop  cities  urban  urbanism  publicgood  culture  culturemaking  everyday  local  collectivism  census  uk 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Google’s slow fade with librarians — The Message — Medium
"Written in response to “Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job” [https://medium.com/message/never-trust-a-corporation-to-do-a-librarys-job-f58db4673351 ]"



"Time passed. The newsletter started to be written by someone with the job title Associate Marketing Manager, Librarian Outreach in March of 2007. Librarian Central also got a blog in 2007 which they updated like crazy all through the early part of the year. We Googled “limerence” and brushed up on the five love languages. We’d always been big into acts of service.

Then they said they were taking a break. A break? Just for the summer, they said, then didn’t update for a year. Maybe we should have taken a hint? But we were so sure that we were made for each other.

They made one additional post to the blog in 2008 , its last. It was written by someone whose job was Product Marketing Manager, without a clip art book or library in sight. In early 2009 the Librarian Central URL just started redirecting to the blogspot blog. OK, we can take a hint.

We were having our own doubts, of course. How could you not? The Google Books project seemed to be letting itself go. Things any librarian would notice: bad scans; faulty metadata; narrowing the scope of public domain; having machines do jobs that should be done (or at least overseen) by humans. They seemed to be restricting and worsening access to cultural content, not expanding and improving it. Maybe we were going in different directions?

The last issue of the Google Librarian Newsletter in April 2009 directed people to the Inside Google Books blog. We saw Jodi around there until 2010. That blog hasn’t been updated since August 2012. Its last post, by a Google Play Operations Specialist, directs readers to the general Google Search blog. We know when we are getting the runaround.

Sometime in 2014 between August and October, Google removed the Librarian Central blog entirely, took down all the posts and memory-holed it. Maybe it was because of the comment spam. You can still read the posts from the blog through the Internet Archive. Sure, the Archive is not as flashy, but they get the work done and they’re always there for you.



Google came back to the annual ALA Conference in June of 2012 claiming to be a First Time Exhibitor. They looked great, the years had been good to them. They were selling something of course… to libraries or really to anyone. We walked by a few times but they didn’t seem to recognize us.

But we still remember when they were there before. Librarians remember.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re doing pretty great on our own, better than ever really. We’ve gotten a bit more independent, not putting all of our eggs into any one basket, gotten better at establishing boundaries. Still not sure, after all that, how we got this all so wrong. Didn’t we both want the same thing? Maybe it really wasn’t us, it was them. Most days it’s hard to remember what we saw in Google. Why did we think we’d make good partners?"
libraries  archives  google  publicgood  2015  internet  web  online  jessamynwest  librarians  persistence 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Should Schools Teach Personality? - NYTimes.com
"The focus on character, however, has encountered criticism. The education writer and speaker Alfie Kohn, for instance, argues that grit isn’t always helpful. In a Washington Post essay adapted from his new book, “The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting,” he writes that dogged persistence isn’t the best approach to every situation: “Even if you don’t crash and burn by staying the course, you may not fare nearly as well as if you had stopped, reassessed and tried something else.”

And, he said in an interview, an emphasis on children’s personalities could take attention away from problems with their schools. “Social psychologists for decades have identified a tendency to overestimate how important personality characteristics, motivation, individual values and the like tend to be relative to the importance of the structural characteristics of a situation,” he said. “We tend to think people just need to try harder, or have a better attitude,” but “this tends to miss the boat. What really matters is various aspects of the system itself.”

Truly improving education in America will require “asking about the environment in which kids are placed, what kids are being asked to learn, how they’re being taught, what voice they have, if any, in the experience,” he said. “Every time we focus on personality variables, we are distracted again from addressing the systemic questions that matter.”

And in an essay at The New Republic, Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, an educational studies professor at Carleton College, contends that as currently espoused by KIPP, “character-based education is untethered from any conception of morality.” And, he says in an interview, he questions the value of looking at character traits outside a larger moral framework: “What’s the importance of teaching grit if you’re not teaching it in the context of civic education, the public good, social responsibility?” Teaching it without such context “becomes kind of a looking-out-for-number-one-type approach to education.”

As an example of a better way, he points to a school he came across in his research whose students started a community garden during World War I (gardening is also part of the curriculum at some schools today). Planting, growing and distributing food taught many of the same traits that character-education programs hope to instill, he said, “but it’s all richly integrated into a task that has genuine purpose and that makes the students think beyond themselves.”"
education  schools  personality  grit  angeladuckworth  annanorth  arthurporopat  kipp  character  teaching  learning  curriculum  psychology  motivationjeffreyaaronsnyder  morality  civics  socialresponsibility  publicgood  obedience  individualism  conscientiousness  diligence  duty  creativity  curiosity  schooling  schooliness  howweteach  alfiekohn  tomaschamorro-premuzic  2015 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Library as Infrastructure
"For millennia libraries have acquired resources, organized them, preserved them and made them accessible (or not) to patrons. But the forms of those resources have changed — from scrolls and codices; to LPs and LaserDiscs; to e-books, electronic databases and open data sets. Libraries have had at least to comprehend, if not become a key node within, evolving systems of media production and distribution. Consider the medieval scriptoria where manuscripts were produced; the evolution of the publishing industry and book trade after Gutenberg; the rise of information technology and its webs of wires, protocols and regulations. 1 At every stage, the contexts — spatial, political, economic, cultural — in which libraries function have shifted; so they are continuously reinventing themselves and the means by which they provide those vital information services.

Libraries have also assumed a host of ever-changing social and symbolic functions. They have been expected to symbolize the eminence of a ruler or state, to integrally link “knowledge” and “power” — and, more recently, to serve as “community centers,” “public squares” or “think tanks.” Even those seemingly modern metaphors have deep histories. The ancient Library of Alexandria was a prototypical think tank, 2 and the early Carnegie buildings of the 1880s were community centers with swimming pools and public baths, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, even rifle ranges, as well as book stacks. 3 As the Carnegie funding program expanded internationally — to more than 2,500 libraries worldwide — secretary James Bertram standardized the design in his 1911 pamphlet “Notes on the Erection of Library Buildings,” which offered grantees a choice of six models, believed to be the work of architect Edward Tilton. Notably, they all included a lecture room.

In short, the library has always been a place where informational and social infrastructures intersect within a physical infrastructure that (ideally) supports that program.

Now we are seeing the rise of a new metaphor: the library as “platform” — a buzzy word that refers to a base upon which developers create new applications, technologies and processes. In an influential 2012 article in Library Journal, David Weinberger proposed that we think of libraries as “open platforms” — not only for the creation of software, but also for the development of knowledge and community. 4 Weinberger argued that libraries should open up their entire collections, all their metadata, and any technologies they’ve created, and allow anyone to build new products and services on top of that foundation. The platform model, he wrote, “focuses our attention away from the provisioning of resources to the foment” — the “messy, rich networks of people and ideas” — that “those resources engender.” Thus the ancient Library of Alexandria, part of a larger museum with botanical gardens, laboratories, living quarters and dining halls, was a platform not only for the translation and copying of myriad texts and the compilation of a magnificent collection, but also for the launch of works by Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes and their peers."



"Partly because of their skill in reaching populations that others miss, libraries have recently reported record circulation and visitation, despite severe budget cuts, decreased hours and the threatened closure or sale of “underperforming” branches. 9 Meanwhile the Pew Research Center has released a series of studies about the materials and services Americans want their libraries to provide. Among the findings: 90 percent of respondents say the closure of their local public library would have an impact on their community, and 63 percent describe that impact as “major.”"



"Again, we need to look to the infrastructural ecology — the larger network of public services and knowledge institutions of which each library is a part. How might towns, cities and regions assess what their various public (and private) institutions are uniquely qualified and sufficiently resourced to do, and then deploy those resources most effectively? Should we regard the library as the territory of the civic mind and ask other social services to attend to the civic body? The assignment of social responsibility isn’t so black and white — nor are the boundaries between mind and body, cognition and affect — but libraries do need to collaborate with other institutions to determine how they leverage the resources of the infrastructural ecology to serve their publics, with each institution and organization contributing what it’s best equipped to contribute — and each operating with a clear sense of its mission and obligation."



"Libraries need to stay focused on their long-term cultural goals — which should hold true regardless of what Google decides to do tomorrow — and on their place within the larger infrastructural ecology. They also need to consider how their various infrastructural identities map onto each other, or don’t. Can an institution whose technical and physical infrastructure is governed by the pursuit of innovation also fulfill its obligations as a social infrastructure serving the disenfranchised? What ethics are embodied in the single-minded pursuit of “the latest” technologies, or the equation of learning with entrepreneurialism?

As Zadie Smith argued beautifully in the New York Review of Books, we risk losing the library’s role as a “different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.” Barbara Fister, a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, offered an equally eloquent plea for the library as a space of exception:
Libraries are not, or at least should not be, engines of productivity. If anything, they should slow people down and seduce them with the unexpected, the irrelevant, the odd and the unexplainable. Productivity is a destructive way to justify the individual’s value in a system that is naturally communal, not an individualistic or entrepreneurial zero-sum game to be won by the most industrious.


Libraries, she argued, “will always be at a disadvantage” to Google and Amazon because they value privacy; they refuse to exploit users’ private data to improve the search experience. Yet libraries’ failure to compete in efficiency is what affords them the opportunity to offer a “different kind of social reality.” I’d venture that there is room for entrepreneurial learning in the library, but there also has to be room for that alternate reality where knowledge needn’t have monetary value, where learning isn’t driven by a profit motive. We can accommodate both spaces for entrepreneurship and spaces of exception, provided the institution has a strong epistemic framing that encompasses both. This means that the library needs to know how to read itself as a social-technical-intellectual infrastructure."



"In libraries like BiblioTech — and the Digital Public Library of America — the collection itself is off-site. Do patrons wonder where, exactly, all those books and periodicals and cloud-based materials live? What’s under, or floating above, the “platform”? Do they think about the algorithms that lead them to particular library materials, and the conduits and protocols through which they access them? Do they consider what it means to supplant bookstacks with server stacks — whose metal racks we can’t kick, lights we can’t adjust, knobs we can’t fiddle with? Do they think about the librarians negotiating access licenses and adding metadata to “digital assets,” or the engineers maintaining the servers? With the increasing recession of these technical infrastructures — and the human labor that supports them — further off-site, behind the interface, deeper inside the black box, how can we understand the ways in which those structures structure our intellect and sociality?

We need to develop — both among library patrons and librarians themselves — new critical capacities to understand the distributed physical, technical and social architectures that scaffold our institutions of knowledge and program our values. And we must consider where those infrastructures intersect — where they should be, and perhaps aren’t, mutually reinforcing one another. When do our social obligations compromise our intellectual aspirations, or vice versa? And when do those social or intellectual aspirations for the library exceed — or fail to fully exploit — the capacities of our architectural and technological infrastructures? Ultimately, we need to ensure that we have a strong epistemological framework — a narrative that explains how the library promotes learning and stewards knowledge — so that everything hangs together, so there’s some institutional coherence. We need to sync the library’s intersecting infrastructures so that they work together to support our shared intellectual and ethical goals."
shannonmattern  2014  libraries  infrastructure  access  accessibility  services  government  civics  librarians  information  ethics  community  makerspaces  privacy  safety  learning  openstudioproject  education  lcproject  zadiesmith  barbarafister  seattle  nyc  pittsburgh  culture  google  neoliberalism  knowledge  diversity  inequality  coworking  brooklyn  nypl  washingtondc  architecture  design  hackerlabs  hackerspaces  annebalsamo  technology  chicago  ncsu  books  mexicocity  mexicodf  davidadjaye  social  socialinfrastructure  ala  intellectualfreedom  freedom  democracy  publicgood  public  lifelonglearning  saltlakecity  marellusturner  partnerships  toyoito  refuge  cities  ericklinenberg  economics  amazon  disparity  mediaproduction  readwrite  melvildewey  df 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Hullabaloo: Are we holding the leash or wearing the collar?
"Post-Reagan, deregulated capitalism has long looked like something out of Mary Shelley or science-fiction films, a creature we created, but no longer control. Billionaires and their acolytes see only its benefits, but as Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Ian Malcolm says in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, "Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that's how it always starts. Then later there's running, and then screaming." Where once We the People held capitalism's leash, now we wear the collar.

Whether it's turning your child's education from a shared public cost into a corporate profit center; or turning the principle of one-man, one-vote into one-dollar, one-vote; or carbon tax credits and accounting tricks for addressing rising sea levels; questioning the universal application of a business approach to any human need or problem prompts the challenge, "Do you have something against making a profit?" A more subtle form of red-baiting, this ploy is supposed to be a conversation stopper. Yes? You're a commie. Game over.

Maybe it's time our billionaire problem-solvers got over themselves."
2014  latecapitalism  corruption  inequality  economics  capitalism  tomsullivan  naomiklein  globalelite  commongood  publicgood  government  policy  regulation 
september 2014 by robertogreco
notes.husk.org. It’s hard for me to even remember the last time I....
"I took two and a half years to get a San Francisco public library card, but I wish I had earlier. Sure, they have books, and I use them to catch up with printed comics (Fraction’s Hawkeye is great), but that’s not why I evangelise it.

No, the reason I do that are the ten ebooks you can rent at a time (with no risk of late fees), and the JSTOR and OED access (amongst many other databases, including newspaper archives and other academic search engines).

That’s just the selfish stuff for me, a rich white guy. I also recognise the space libraries give to parents who can’t afford new books for their kids all the time; those whose neighbourhoods don’t have bookshops; the jobless using them for access to computers (a huge part of public library usage these day); and those who can just use them as a rare uncommercial space in the US.

Libraries. Use them, and promote them, before we lose them."
paulmison  libraries  librarycards  publicgood  2013  community 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Ronald Reagan and the fall of UC - latimes.com
"It is undeniable that the University of California would have faced serious challenges in the years after the 1960s, some of its own making. State spending on education would surely have been cut, not least because Proposition 13 severely reduced state revenue. (Reagan's anti-tax pronouncements helped pave the way for this "taxpayer revolt.")

But it is also undeniable that Reagan set a precedent for UC-bashing. He tarnished the once-esteemed higher education system, invited political intrusions and convinced many citizens that public spending on it was a waste."
ronaldreagan  history  california  government  politics  unioversityofcalifornia  uc  2013  proposition13  anti-intellectualism  publicgood  universityofcalifornia 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The University as a Googleplex | MPG
"When you hear people say - now and in our present context - that they want the university to be run like a business - full of "sherpas" but not "coasters" - what they really mean is that they don't want it to exist. At all. They don't want it to be dependent on public dollars, or "welfare," or that they don't want "tenured radicals" to be rewarded for obscure, narrowly applicable research agendas, or that they want higher education to be cheap and affordable. This is a certain kind of business model. More like Wal-Mart. It cheapens education. And it spells, down the road, the end of schooling, generally, as anything other than a bestowal of bare skills on a prospective worker."



"Yes, there are serious structural problems with interdisciplinarity. Many clever deans and provosts and chancellors see the metaphors of "bridges" and "switching points" and "nodes" as cutting-edge cost-saving measures, since, in many cases, a single jointly-appointed faculty isn't a truly new hire; he or she is a reallocated budget line, once wholly in one department or another, and now split. Budget problems are real and ongoing. Your average administratrix does the best that he or she can in an age of limited resources to keep the antique disciplines strong and to open the curriculum up to the avante-garde at the same time. Sometimes, they figure - or hope? - that a single person, allocated in two directions, can do the institutional work of many.

If you are trying to foster new knowledge, hiring is the start of it, not the end. What comes next, though, is what often gets skipped: building a more robust interdisciplinary infrastructure - a Googleplex for academics.

So, then, build bridges, where and when you can. Worry as much about sidewalks as that new humanities building. Offer faculty and staff subventions for a bicycle, or give them away. Don't get too caught up with putting the cognate units close together. Make the process of connection over space easier, so that the practice of articulation between units and fields and offices is generative. Keep your faculty moving. Good ideas often come on the road, in transit, in the spaces between destination and departure. If budgets are tight, worry less about clustering like-minded units; worry more about the creation of scenic walkways with flat, safe sidewalks, and benches.

But, then, don't skimp on the tech. You know what kills ideas? It isn't the sprint from one office to another. It is the discovery, on the end of the route, of dodgy wifi, spotty ethernet, and the chatter of the prehistoric desktop computer. Or it is the grinding weight of that 10 lbs. laptop from 2005. So, really, ipads for everyone and segways, too, along with moleskine notebooks, whiteboards, and color pens. Pay for iphones and cover the data costs. Spend the extra 10 million (a tenth of the cost of a big new LEED building) for the best internet connection. And, while you're at it, set up a shuttle bus. And if someone wants to see if the new google chromebook works for them - just as an experiment - say "yes." This isn't pampering. It is dreamscape infrastructure.

When the time comes to hire someone, embrace the weird. Hire people who don't mind wearing running shoes, or who text while they run, or who gchat through meetings. People who love to be in two places, or three, at once. People who aren't just working on three books at once, but who can actually make progress on each. People who can speak to a handful of fields and not just one. Hire foxes, not hedgehogs. And, above all else, hire people who can work with other people.

And then, finally, don't screw it all up by hanging these people out to dry: change the rules about tenure and promotion to protect interdisciplines, groupwork in the humanities, and digital publishing. Make it possible for new forms of knowledge production to be recognized as equally important and valuable. In the humanities, this means that we need to stop the unthinking worship of the book, and remember that the book is a vehicle for ideas, which get expressed - fully and richly - in many ways.

All of this stuff costs about as much as one lab for one scientist, which sounds pretty efficient to me. And the payoff, which may not come in the form of grant money or retail teaching, is worth every penny. If we want to measure our "best" and our "brightest" universities by their movement of the conversation, by their reorientation of everything we know about anything, then let's steal some good ideas from the Googleplex.

But let's also remember that the Googleplex and Google are different. The former is a structure of innovation, while the latter, just like Wal Mart, exists chiefly to market a product, in this case an eco-system through which an enhancement can be bought and downloaded. So build a Googleplex, but don't be Google. Because the central point here is that while universities can learn some useful things from studying corporate cultures of innovation, they can't ever be businesses. And anyone who says otherwise really, truly, and seriously just wants to kill them off."
highered  google  highereducation  education  business  publicgood  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  schooldesign  organization  2013  academics  technology  crosspollination  lcproject  openstudioproject  hiring  hierarchy  flatness  money  matthewprattguterl 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Hacking at Education: TED, Technology Entrepreneurship, Uncollege, and the Hole in the Wall
"I have questions about community support. I have questions about what happens when we dismantle public institutions like schools — questions about social justice, questions about community, questions about care. I have questions about the promise of a liberation via a “child-driven education,” questions about this particular brand of neo-liberalism, techno-humanitarianism, and techno-individualism."

"Now don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty that education institutions do — from K–12 onward — that doesn’t help learners at all. Cost. Curriculum. Control. Assessments. Standardization. Debt. Unemployment. Existential Malaise."

"So despite their claims to be liberatory — with the focus on “the learner” and “the child” — this hacking of education by Mitra and Stephens is politically regressive. It is however likely to be good business for the legions of tech entrepreneurs in the audience."
education  schools  schooling  ted  tedtalks  sugatamitra  holeinthewall  community  publicgood  dalastephens  uncollege  unschooling  deschooling  criticism  audreywatters  techno-humanitarianism  neoliberalism  liberation  criticalthinking  groupthinking  dalestephens  evgenymorozov  highereducation  highered  funding  sole  capitalism  coursera  salmankhan  khanacademy  daphnekoller  privilege  techno-individualism  individualism  libertarians  libertarianism  californianideology  niit  salkhan 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Adam Greenfield on Connected Things & Civic Responsibilities in the Networked City - YouTube
"Adam Greenfield of Urbanscale, LLC discusses the many technologies used to collect and convey information around public spaces, and the ethical issues underlying them, as well as a proposal for how technologies could be better harnessed for the public good. Jeffrey Schnapp of the Metalab moderates.

The Hyperpublic symposium brings together computer scientists, ethnographers, architects, historians, artists and legal scholars to discuss how design influences privacy and public space, how it shapes and is shaped by human behavior and experience, and how it can cultivate norms such as tolerance and diversity."
publicgood  hyperpublic  urbanism  urban  publicspaces  ethics  metalab  tolerance  behavior  human  publicspace  privacy  internetofthings  connectedthings  cities  civicresponsibilities  networkedcities  berkmancenter  civics  2011  urbanscale  jeffjarvis  adamgreenfield  spimes  iot  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
The art of working in public « Snarkmarket ["Work in public. Reveal nothing."]
"…two very different dudes…different positions…different objectives…both written in essentially the same style, with common characteristics both superficial—a smart but very informal voice that reads like a long email from your smartest coolest friend ever—& structural:

…both conjure a sense that the piece is almost being written as you read it…slightly chaotic & totally thrilling…both let you inside their heads…But!—they don’t let you all the way inside. There’s plenty withheld…here’s the genius of the style: they don’t tell you much at all…

I tend to zero in on this kind of writing because I aspire to do more of it myself, & to do it better. Working in public like this can be a lot of fun, for writer & reader alike, but more than that: it can be a powerful public good…When you work in public, you create an emissary (media cyborg style) that then walks the earth, teaching others to do your kind of work as well. And that is transcendently cool."

[See the great comments too.]

[See also Clive Thompson's post, which references this one: http://www.collisiondetection.net/mt/archives/2011/08/the_art_of_publ.php ]
writing  business  public  robinsloan  publicthinking  mattwebb  berg  berglondon  alexismadrigal  classideas  transparency  surprise  revelation  style  newliberalarts  chaos  publicgood  learning  teaching  mediacyborgs  sharing  web  internet  informality  balance  spontaneity  immediacy  thinkinginpublic  thinkingoutloud  2011  comments  questions  possibility  pondering  emptiness  workinginpublic  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Opposition to DIY Education - By Reihan Salam - The Agenda - National Review Online
"The only way to restore the concept of higher education as a public good is to reinvent it as a truly public good: not subject to antiquated notions of scarcity and hierarchical expertise, but adapted to the current reality of free, open, and immediate sharing of knowledge."
anyakamenetz  highered  highereducation  publicgood  education  policy  economics  hierarchy  sharing  knowledge  expertise  scarcity  reihansalam  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco

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