robertogreco + responsibility   167

From Bureaucracy to Profession: Remaking the Educational Sector for the Twenty-First Century
"In this essay, Jal Mehta examines the challenges faced by American schooling and the reasons for persistent failure of American school reforms to achieve successful educational outcomes at scale. He concludes that many of the problems faced by American schools are artifacts of the bureaucratic form in which the education sector as a whole was cast: “We are trying to solve a problem that requires professional skill and expertise by using bureaucratic levers of requirements and regulations.” Building on research from a variety of fields and disciplines, Mehta advances a “sectoral” perspective on education reform, exploring how this shift in thinking could help education stakeholders produce quality practice across the nation."

[full article in .pdf: https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/33063300/Mehta_--_From_Bureaucracy_to_Profession_--_HER_2013.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y ]
jalmehta  us  schools  schooling  scale  bureaucracy  skill  edreform  education  publicschools  professions  policy  institutions  cynicism  johntaylorgatto  pisa  assessment  singapore  finland  korea  southkorea  canada  lindadarling-hammond  expertise  professionalization  teachers  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy  management  teachertraining  responsibility  standards 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
The most influential college you’ve never heard of, why it folded, and why it matters | Scalawag
"But Black Mountain College was not, strictly speaking, an art school. And it certainly didn’t start that way. In 1933, classics professor John Andrew Rice tossed the snowball that kicked off a decades-long avalanche, foregoing more pointed Latin and Greek coursework at Rollins College to lead his students on Socratic journeys about topics from religion to “What is Art” and bad-mouthing academic hierarchy. The Rollins College president, a self-proclaimed “experimenter in education,” was nonetheless displeased. For this curricular skullduggery, and for Rice’s generally winking attitude toward authority, he had Rice fired.

Popular as Rice was, his exit caused a scandal. When the dust settled, eight professors had left Rollins, and a number of students with them. After some uncertainty, Rice and his colleagues decided to put their rebellious philosophies to test. Thanks to a local professor, property was located in western North Carolina, a grand colonnaded hall atop an Appalachian hill in the shadows of the Blue Ridge; funders were secured to support the endeavor; teachers were recruited. From a pedagogic schism, Black Mountain College was born.

The goal was from the outset to approach education in an unregimented way. There were no required courses, no extensive examinations, no formal grading. The school was not even accredited, “graduating” only sixty students throughout its lifetime. Yet its alums were accepted by graduate schools and as transfers, from Harvard to Princeton to the Pasadena Playhouse College of the Theatre, despite their lack of certificates.

To ensure an open curriculum, the founders decided to avoid top-down control, instead granting ownership of the school to the whole faculty evenly, including new hires. Meanwhile, the school decided to make no decisions without student input—student officers could be present at faculty meetings and would sit on the governing Board of Fellows (constituted otherwise of a subgroup of the professoriate). Discussions of school policy were typically open affairs attended by all. Collectivism was applauded; democracy reigned.

This opened space for BMC’s idea that learning and living should interlace. As Louis Adamic, who spent three months at the school as a curious visitor, described the method in a breathless 1936 article for Harper’s: “At BMC there is no head-cramming. There education is experience that involves in action the whole person.”

To that end, Rice and his cofounders made art a core piece of the Black Mountain experience, in an effort to get each student to “put the same faith in doing that he has been taught to have in absorbing,” as an early school catalogue put it. Serendipitously (for Black Mountain, anyway), the year of the college’s founding, the Nazis closed down the radical Bauhaus art school in Germany. Josef and Anni Albers, looking to escape the rising tide of fascism, agreed to come on at BMC to teach art, despite the fact, as Josef wrote, that he did not “speak one word English.” In subsequent years, many Germans would follow.

The Albers’ arrival was a coup for the school. It immediately provided a strong artistic spine and influenced the pedagogy greatly: Josef was a champion of a humanistic approach to education, of art as a way to engage the world completely. So while art was central, everyone was not to become an artist, per se; instead, art looked more like the core of a liberal arts education today. BMC alum Will Hamlin described the result to historian Martin Duberman: “I think we had this in common with the painters and weavers and musicians, that we were trying to make some kind of order out of things, I mean really trying, not just pretending to be… I think we were—with a few exceptions—really working at creating our own universes of meaning.”

The decision to avoid any sort of administrative board cut both ways. The educational model was open as the sky. But the school was constantly scrambling for money, seemingly always on the verge of closing—although it still maintained a pay-what-you-can system (sometimes counterbalanced by accepting wealthier students for that reason alone).

The “precariousness, though deplored and decried at the time, may well have contributed to the community élan,” as Duberman writes. “The severity of the struggle for economic survival helped to knit the community together.” The upshot was a focus on collectively tending to the college: a work program was instituted early on, and students and professors alike worked a farm that provided food for sustenance and sometimes sale, constructed new school buildings, washed dishes, and maintained the grounds. This was cause for grumbling in some corners—it was work, after all—and romantic reverie in others. Rice, the school’s cheeky founder, perhaps summed up the ambivalent attitude best in his autobiography. “Untoiling poets may sing of the dignity of toil;” he wrote, “others know there is degradation in obligatory sweat.”

Nevertheless, there was definite communal buy-in among the Black Mountaineers. When psychologist John Wallen joined the faculty in 1945, he broadened the question of collective responsibility by reaching out to the largely bemused and distrustful surrounding community. (There was a bit of a cultural gap between the school and its environs. A maintenance man on BMC’s first campus described the student body to me as many contemporary locals would: “nothing to do but moonshine and sex.”)

In many ways, the experiment was successful. Students volunteered in town, worked in the Southern Negro Youth Conference, registered voters, gathered signatures for petitions. But it was also short-lived, as Wallen left BMC contentiously not two years into his appointment, taking his ideals with him.

Still, while insulated at times from its surroundings, the school tackled the social issues of its day. It offered a home to German Jews, artists and intellectuals during another era when immigration vexed the United States. In 1944, ten years before Brown v. Board of Education, Alma Stone, a Black musician from Georgia, attended BMC’s summer institute in the Jim Crow South. The following summer black artists began to teach, and Black students enrolled full-time, some back from the war on the GI Bill. When the students went into town, they abided by segregation laws; but when outsiders came to Black Mountain for concerts, theater productions, and the like, everybody sat where they pleased.

Democracy proved hard. Immediately upon BMC’s founding, a more powerful group of faculty emerged at its helm: John Rice, Josef Albers, engineer Theodore Dreier, a few compatriots. Soon, some of their colleagues began to resent the group’s authority as at odds with the school’s mission; when Rice had a very public affair with a student in the late ’30s, it provided a catalyst to put him on leave for a time. He never returned.

Sans affair (although that continued to happen every so often), this process repeated itself throughout the school’s history: groups of professors were forced out or resigned, sometimes taking significant portions of the student body with them. Eventually even Albers fell victim to such a dispute after a younger crop of professors decided that he and his ilk had become too stuffy.

The infighting shaped life at the school and gives a sense of the easy-come-easy-go nature of the work. Professors were appointed initially to two-year terms, and later to one-year terms; there was no tenure. Faculty could be asked to leave for the vaguest of reasons—complaints about classroom technique became shorthand for any number of nebulous collegial gripes. Yet because they were part of steering the college, because of their great freedom in implementing their visions of education, professors came. And they stayed.

Josef and Anni Albers, despite the consistently meager pay, taught at the school for 16 years. Co-founder Theodore Dreier, too. Poet Mary Catherine Richards stayed seven years and continued to be involved with the school after she left. The poet Charles Olson stayed six years, until the school closed. (Some students stayed about as long.) The pay was bad, yes. But to be architects of education, rather than grunts on its front line, was for many worth the shortfall.

Albers’s exit in 1949 began the last, most incandescent period of BMC’s history, under the rectorship of Olson, a six-foot-seven-inch whirlwind of a man. After a (comparatively) more staid period in the late ‘40s, the school under Olson lived up to its ideals of radical experimentation. Any semblance of traditional course structure was scrapped, seminars ran until the wee hours of morning, the lines blurred fully between students and faculty. The literary arts took central importance, and the “Black Mountain School” of poets emerged, buoyed by Robert Creeley’s publication of the Black Mountain Review, a journal whose contributors also included Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.

The Olson years were BMC magnified: yet more cash-starved, yet more experimental, yet more soul-searching. Yet more famous alumni—painter Dorothea Rockburne emerged from this period as well—yet more piercing thought. But the lack of structure had its costs; dwindling enrollment meant emptier coffers, and finally, in 1956-7, the school’s closure. Professors and students spun off to more traditional universities, to new experiments in communal living, to Abstract Expressionist New York and the San Francisco of the Beats.

Black Mountain College’s troubles stemmed from staunch opposition to centralized hierarchical governance. The UNC system’s current issues lend credence to those fears. Early last year, after the NC Board of Governors reviewed 240 academic institutes and centers across the UNC system, they decided to close down three—the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, at UNC Chapel Hill; East Carolina University’s NC Center for Biodiversity; and … [more]
northcarolina  2016  sammyfeldblum  hierarchy  education  highered  highereducation  bmc  blackmountaincollege  josefalbers  johnandrewrice  charlesolson  democracy  art  arts  curriculum  openness  experience  experientialeducation  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  governance  politics  precarity  rollinscollege  authority  opencurriculum  living  lcproject  openstudioproject  louisadamic  martinduberman  precariousness  community  collectivism  responsibility  theodoredreier  marycatherinerichards  robertcreeley  history  horizontality 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Why People Hate Religion - The New York Times
"You don’t hear much about Sister Norma Pimentel in the secular press. She’s not a wacko, a hypocrite, a sexual predator or a political operative. Her life’s work, she says, is guided by seeing “the presence of God” in migrant children in the shelter she oversees in the Rio Grande Valley — vulnerable souls that her president would otherwise put in cages.

What you hear about is the phonies, the charlatans who wave Bibles, the theatrically pious, and they are legion. Vice President Mike Pence wears his faith like a fluorescent orange vest. But when he visited the border this summer and saw human beings crammed like cordwood in the Texas heat, that faith was invisible.

“Trump Orders Pence to Find Passage in Bible Where Jesus Tells People to Get the Hell Out.” Though a satirical headline, from the comic writer Andy Borowitz, the above could pass for any day in Trump world.

Pence is the chief bootlicker to a president who now sees himself in messianic terms, a president who tweets a description of himself as “the second coming of God.” As hard as it to see God Part II boasting about grabbing a woman’s genitals, paying hush money to a porn actress, or calling neo-Nazis “very fine people,” millions of overtly religious Americans believe in some version of Jesus Trump, Superstar.

What you hear about are the modern Savonarolas. In Indiana this summer, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson stripped a Jesuit prep school of its Catholic identity for refusing to fire a gay, married teacher. The same threat loomed over another Indianapolis school, until it ousted a beloved teacher with 13 years of service. He was fired for getting married to another man — a legal, civil action.

The archbishop claimed he was upholding Catholic teaching, an example of the kind of selective moral policing that infuriates good people of faith.

Catholic teaching also frowns on divorce. But when a divorced teacher, at the same school where the gay teacher was fired, remarried without a church-sanctioned annulment and posted her status on Facebook as a dare, the archbishop did nothing. For this is a road that leads to thrice-married, politically connected Catholics like Newt Gingrich, whose wife Callista (with whom Gingrich carried on an adulterous affair before getting married) is now Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican.

Archbishop Thompson says he tries to be “Christ-centered” in his decisions. If so, he should cite words from Christ condemning homosexuality, any words; there are none. That may be one reason a healthy majority of Catholics are in favor of same-sex marriage, despite what their spiritual sentries tell them.

Religious hypocrites are an easy and eternal mark. The French Revolution was driven in part by the revulsion of starving peasants toward the overfed clerics who had taken vows of poverty. The Protestant Reformation took flight on disgust at a church in Rome that sold passages to heaven, enriching men who had multiple mistresses after taking vows of chastity.

White evangelical Christians, the rotting core of Trump’s base, profess to be guided by biblical imperatives. They’re not. Their religion is Play-Doh. They have become more like Trump, not the other way around. It’s a devil’s pact, to use words they would understand.

In one of the most explicit passages of the New Testament, Christ says people will be judged by how they treat the hungry, the poor, the least among us. And yet, only 25 percent of white evangelicals say their country has some responsibility to take in refugees.

Evangelicals give cover to an amoral president because they believe God is using him to advance their causes. “There has never been anyone who has defended us and who has fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump,” said Ralph Reed at a meeting of professed Christian activists earlier this summer.

But what really thrills them is when Trump bullies and belittles their opponents, as counterintuitive as that may seem. Evangelicals “love the meanest parts” of Trump, the Christian writer Ben Howe argues in his new book, “The Immoral Majority.” Older white Christians rouse to Trump’s toxicity because he’s taking their side. It’s tribal, primal and vindictive.

So, yes, people hate religion when the loudest proponents of religion are shown to be mercenaries for a leader who debases everything he touches. And yes, young people are leaving the pews in droves because too often the person facing them in those pews is a fraud.

They hate religion because, at a moment to stand up and be counted on the right side of history, religion is used as moral cover for despicable behavior. This is not new to our age. Hitler got a pass from the Vatican until very late in the war.

Still, we are “prisoners of hope,” as Archbishop Desmond Tutu loves to say. And if you’re looking for hope in the midnight of the American soul, look no further than Sister Pimentel’s shelter for hundreds of desperate children in McAllen, Texas.

Growing up, Sister Pimentel was going to be an artist, she says, until she felt a strong tug on her soul; it compelled her to a lifetime of selfless service. Faith is not that complicated. Religion always is."
religion  catholicism  christianity  evangelicals  2019  timothyegan  behavior  us  politics  mikepence  donaldtrump  normapimentel  hypocrisy  history  compassion  faith  desmondtutu  frauds  charlatans  morality  benhowe  race  racism  vindictiveness  border  immigration  ralphreed  christ  poverty  responsibility  refugees  chastity  indiana  sexuality  homosexuality  marriage  divorce  judgement  hitler  frenchrevolution  inequality 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Dr. Genevieve Guenther on Twitter: "@GlobalEcoGuy @keya_chatterjee @MichaelEMann @Peters_Glen Hi Jon, my apologies for taking so long to reply to your question. I was solo-parenting today. Anyhow, I have a very long answer for you. One of these days I sho
“Anyhow, I have a very long answer for you. One of these days I should write something about this, but for now lots of tweets…

I think you’re right that aviation has become a domain for virtue signaling. But also I think it still encapsulates real issues that the climate movement must grapple with.

I think there are two different contexts in which to consider these issues. The first is that of the climate movement. What should be expected from people who publicly declare that we must stop emitting GHGs and who try to move our culture and politics to that goal?

My opinion is that people in the climate movement should do everything they can to reduce their own personal emissions.

I am persuaded by the research showing that our doing so increases our public credibility and inoculates us against the charge of moral hypocrisy.

I also believe that reducing our personal emissions gives extra (and necessary) force to our argument that only political action leading to systemic change will solve the climate crisis.

The “we need systemic change” argument is weakened considerably insofar as it seems like self-justification for continuing to enjoy high-carbon pleasures.

Ask your gut: would Greta Thunberg have so galvanized the world if she had flown around Europe to deliver her speeches?

That said, Glen is also clearly right: being able not to fly depends on a number of contingencies. Many people have to fly for work or to see family.

Many climate leaders have to fly. Should Jay Inslee, for example, not fly while he’s campaigning for president? Surely not.

Should island nations send their delegates to the COPs by boat? Perhaps not be the best use of their resources. But delegates of high emitting nations? Absolutely, they should travel to the COPs emitting the least GHGs as possible. Climate justice from the get-go, I say.

And the political is the personal & visa versa. If flying were a country, its emissions would be sixth largest in the world. And out of the entire population, only 1.5% of us are responsible for the majority of aviation emissions. Flying is climate injustice full stop.

I think considering questions of climate justice in one’s personal practices should be encouraged or even normalized. And who else is going to do that work but people in the climate movement?

As for the argument that calling for the end of unnecessary flying hurts the climate movement because it plays into the hands of the fossil fuel industry…

I can see how the ff industry / denial machine wants to keep everyone’s attention on consumption rather than the managed decline of the ff economy, and I agree it’s tricky to be talking about personal behavior change in a public forum for that reason.
But I think climate twitter is more of a bubble than it seems, and there is a gap between the conversations and debates to be had here and our communication to the general public. (The general public sphere being the second context in which to consider this issue.)
I never try to persuade my friends, my colleagues outside of the climate movement, or the audiences for my talks that they should stop flying. Never.

Not only because it’s a shocking idea for people who have yet to be mobilized, but also because the *only* worthwhile public message IMHO is that everyone needs to take actions that demand and attempt to force *political* and *institutional* change.

But if I am asked I say that I have committed to not flying, and I say why: once I understood that emitting GHGs is fatally dangerous, I felt a kind of categorical imperative to emit as little of them as possible…

…even though the reduction of my own personal emissions of GHGs won’t make any *quantitative* difference overall.

Let me say right away that I have failed in my commitment by flying to Pittsburgh to give a paper beccause I didn’t have time to take the train for family reasons, and…

I flew once w my son and will again until he’s old enough to tolerate the idea of how dangerous climate change might be and why his entire world needs to change. He already knows why we have to cut back (from 8 flights a year to once in 3 years); that’s enough for now.

So it’s complicated, I fuck up all the time, my motherhood conflicts with my activism, we’re all human.

But I am tortured by the question: if we need to bring our emissions down to net zero in 30 years, and the tech for net zero flight is not there yet, everyone is going to need to stop or curtail their flying at least temporarily, no? So why not start now?

And I will acknowledge that sometimes I speak too harshly and admit that I do so because it hurts me, makes me feel most despondent and hopeless, when the people who understand climate change the best are no more willing to give up flying than anyone else.

I know lots of people dislike me for the way I talk about flying. And I see that flying is becoming an increasingly contentious issue.

But as far as wedges go, I think that not grappling w the problem, but dismissing or subtweeting w barely concealed contempt people who express dismay about flying is also pretty divisive.

That said, I realize that nearly everyone I respect and who has devoted their life to this problem disagrees with me. I know that the people who disagree with me want the climate movement to succeed and the world to decarbonize.

I just passionately believe that we are more likely to succeed if we signal the urgency with our actions, unite the word with the deed, and also…

show that life is absolutely beautiful, and meaningful, and interesting, and rewarding, and that people can be successful and have amazing experiences, without needing to spew plumes of carbon dioxide into the sky or, really, ever get on a plane.“
planes  airplanes  flight  climatechange  activism  genevieveguenther  2019  travel  signaling  gretathunberg  morality  hypocrisy  fossilfuels  environment  sustainability  parenting  responsibility  carbonemissions  aviation  flygskam  guilt  shame  carbonfootprint  flying  flyingshame  flightshame  emissions  airlines  climate 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Teju Cole, "Ethics", Lecture 3 of 3, 04.22.19 - YouTube
"The 2019 Berlin Family Lectures with Teju Cole
"Coming to Our Senses"
Lecture three: "Ethics"
April 22, 2019

How do our senses foster our moral understanding and ethical obligations to others? In the third and final lecture of the 2019 Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Lecture Series, acclaimed author, critic, and photographer Teju Cole thinks through how our senses can help us understand the plight of travelers and migrants. Cole implores us to recognize the mutual and unshirkable responsibilities that bind all human beings.

This is the second lecture in a three-lecture series presented in the spring of 2019 at the University of Chicago.

Named for Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, the Berlin Family Lectures bring leading scholars, writers, and creative artists from around the world to the University of Chicago. Each visitor offers an extended series of lectures with the aim of interacting with the university community and developing a book for publication with the University of Chicago Press. Learn more at http://berlinfamilylectures.uchicago.edu.

If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please send a message to humanities@uchicago.edu."
2019  tejucole  ethics  senses  migrants  migration  travelers  responsibility  humanism  lauraletinsky  photography  location  situation  howwewrite  interconnectedness  interconnected  malta  caravaggio  art  painting  writing  reading  knowing  knowledge  seeing  annecarson  smell  death  grief  dying 
june 2019 by robertogreco
[Essay] | Faustian Economics, by Wendell Berry | Harper's Magazine
"The general reaction to the apparent end of the era of cheap fossil fuel, as to other readily foreseeable curtailments, has been to delay any sort of reckoning. The strategies of delay, so far, have been a sort of willed oblivion, or visions of large profits to the manufacturers of such “biofuels” as ethanol from corn or switchgrass, or the familiar unscientific faith that “science will find an answer.” The dominant response, in short, is a dogged belief that what we call the American Way of Life will prove somehow indestructible. We will keep on consuming, spending, wasting, and driving, as before, at any cost to anything and everybody but ourselves.

This belief was always indefensible — the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed — and by now it is manifestly foolish. But foolishness on this scale looks disturbingly like a sort of national insanity. We seem to have come to a collective delusion of grandeur, insisting that all of us are “free” to be as conspicuously greedy and wasteful as the most corrupt of kings and queens. (Perhaps by devoting more and more of our already abused cropland to fuel production we will at last cure ourselves of obesity and become fashionably skeletal, hungry but — thank God! — still driving.)"



"The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity. The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination — this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.

Our national faith so far has been: “There’s always more.” Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. Thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done — that of neighborliness and caretaking — cannot be done by remote control with the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.

That human limitlessness is a fantasy means, obviously, that its life expectancy is limited. There is now a growing perception, and not just among a few experts, that we are entering a time of inescapable limits. We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.

This constraint, however, is not the condemnation it may seem. On the contrary, it returns us to our real condition and to our human heritage, from which our self-definition as limitless animals has for too long cut us off. Every cultural and religious tradition that I know about, while fully acknowledging our animal nature, defines us specifically as humans — that is, as animals (if the word still applies) capable of living not only within natural limits but also within cultural limits, self-imposed. As earthly creatures, we live, because we must, within natural limits, which we may describe by such names as “earth” or “ecosystem” or “watershed” or “place.” But as humans, we may elect to respond to this necessary placement by the self-restraints implied in neighborliness, stewardship, thrift, temperance, generosity, care, kindness, friendship, loyalty, and love.

In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define “freedom,” for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, “free” is etymologically related to “friend.” These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of “dear” or “beloved.” We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restraints of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our “identity” is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections."



"And so our cultural tradition is in large part the record of our continuing effort to understand ourselves as beings specifically human: to say that, as humans, we must do certain things and we must not do certain things. We must have limits or we will cease to exist as humans; perhaps we will cease to exist, period. At times, for example, some of us humans have thought that human beings, properly so called, did not make war against civilian populations, or hold prisoners without a fair trial, or use torture for any reason.

Some of us would-be humans have thought too that we should not be free at anybody else’s expense. And yet in the phrase “free market,” the word “free” has come to mean unlimited economic power for some, with the necessary consequence of economic powerlessness for others. Several years ago, after I had spoken at a meeting, two earnest and obviously troubled young veterinarians approached me with a question: How could they practice veterinary medicine without serious economic damage to the farmers who were their clients? Underlying their question was the fact that for a long time veterinary help for a sheep or a pig has been likely to cost more than the animal is worth. I had to answer that, in my opinion, so long as their practice relied heavily on selling patented drugs, they had no choice, since the market for medicinal drugs was entirely controlled by the drug companies, whereas most farmers had no control at all over the market for agricultural products. My questioners were asking in effect if a predatory economy can have a beneficent result. The answer too often is No. And that is because there is an absolute discontinuity between the economy of the seller of medicines and the economy of the buyer, as there is in the health industry as a whole. The drug industry is interested in the survival of patients, we have to suppose, because surviving patients will continue to consume drugs.

Now let us consider a contrary example. Recently, at another meeting, I talked for some time with an elderly, and some would say an old-fashioned, farmer from Nebraska. Unable to farm any longer himself, he had rented his land to a younger farmer on the basis of what he called “crop share” instead of a price paid or owed in advance. Thus, as the old farmer said of his renter, “If he has a good year, I have a good year. If he has a bad year, I have a bad one.” This is what I would call community economics. It is a sharing of fate. It assures an economic continuity and a common interest between the two partners to the trade. This is as far as possible from the economy in which the young veterinarians were caught, in which the powerful are limitlessly “free” to trade, to the disadvantage, and ultimately the ruin, of the powerless.

It is this economy of community destruction that, wittingly or unwittingly, most scientists and technicians have served for the past two hundred years. These scientists and technicians have justified themselves by the proposition that they are the vanguard of progress, enlarging human knowledge and power, and thus they have romanticized both themselves and the predatory enterprises that they have served."



"If the idea of appropriate limitation seems unacceptable to us, that may be because, like Marlowe’s Faustus and Milton’s Satan, we confuse limits with confinement. But that, as I think Marlowe and Milton and others were trying to tell us, is a great and potentially a fatal mistake. Satan’s fault, as Milton understood it and perhaps with some sympathy, was precisely that he could not tolerate his proper limitation; he could not subordinate himself to anything whatever. Faustus’s error was his unwillingness to remain “Faustus, and a man.” In our age of the world it is not rare to find writers, critics, and teachers of literature, as well as scientists and technicians, who regard Satan’s and Faustus’s defiance as salutary and heroic.

On the contrary, our human and earthly limits, properly understood, are not confinements but rather inducements to formal elaboration and elegance, to fullness of relationship and meaning. Perhaps our most serious cultural loss in recent centuries is the knowledge that some things, though limited, are inexhaustible. For example, an ecosystem, even that of a working forest or farm, so long as it remains ecologically intact, is inexhaustible. A small place, as I know from my own experience, can provide opportunities of work and learning, and a fund of beauty, solace, and pleasure — in addition to its difficulties — that cannot be exhausted in a lifetime or in generations.

To recover from our disease of limitlessness, we will have to give up the idea that we have a right to be godlike animals, that we are potentially omniscient and omnipotent, ready to discover “the secret of the universe.” We will have to start over, with a different and much older premise: the naturalness and, for creatures of limited intelligence, the necessity, of limits. We must learn again to ask how we can make the most of what we are, what we have, what we have been given. If we always have a theoretically better substitute available from somebody or someplace else, we will never make the most of anything. It is hard to make the most of one life. If we each had two lives, we would not make much of either. Or … [more]
wendellberry  2008  economics  science  technology  art  limits  limitlessness  arts  ecosystems  limitations  local  humanism  humanity  humility  community  communities  knowledge  power  expansion  growth  interdependence  greed  neighborliness  stewardship  thrift  temperance  christianity  generosity  care  kindness  friendship  loyalty  love  self-restraint  restraint  watershed  land  caring  caretaking  morality  accountability  responsibility  respect  reverence  corruption  capitalism  technosolutionism  fossilfuels  waste 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Are.na Blog / Unlearning hierarchy at the Free School of Architecture
"The Free School of Architecture is an experimental, tuition-free program founded in 2016 that brings architectural thinkers to Los Angeles for several weeks of participatory learning. Four of the original participants – Elisha Cohen, Lili Carr, Karina Andreeva and Tessa Forde – took over the project in 2017 and organized the 2018 edition, which is extensively archived on Are.na. We caught up with them via email to hear their thoughts on alternative education in art and design."



"FSA takes a maximalist and inclusive approach; this has the advantage of allowing us to connect seemingly different people and projects who might never have met, and between whom unexpected collaborations start to happen. It attempts to bridge the gap between academia and practice and allow the space for conversations about architecture that are often overlooked. This maximalist approach means that there will be some unavoidable confusion as a result. We focused on growth and development of participants over clarity to outsiders. Still transparency was a constant topic of conversation and a goal for us as the organizers, and we realize that this is an area we drastically need to improve.

At the core are a few aspirational (and perhaps naive) values that we hope FSA can act as a testing ground for, no matter how the program evolves in the future:

- Non-hierarchy

- Interdisciplinarity and inclusivity

- Freeness (free from constraints of academy and practice, tuition-free, free to be silent or to question)

Leo: How did you structure things in 2018? Were there instructors and students, or did every participant take on a range of roles in relation to one another?

FSA: We sought to challenge the typical hierarchy of a school and emphasize the value of those attending by removing the impetus on the ‘teacher and student’ relationship. We purposefully avoided using those terms. Everyone involved became a ‘participant.’

This began with the application process. Anyone could apply to be a participant by writing a statement and demonstrating experience engaging with a form of practice relevant to architecture. Then, those who wanted to could also submit a teaching proposal. Not all participants had to host a session, but those who did were also there to listen to others.

This included the organizers—we also submitted our own application statements. This was important because the second stage of admissions was peer-evaluation. We sent each applicant three other essays to respond to in order to be accepted. Some responses were funny, some were graphic, while some wrote long, thoughtful reactions. Here is one example. Most importantly, it generated a dialogue before the school was in session and set the tone for what was to come.

Leo: What do you think you took away from the challenges and advantages of being a more "horizontal" organization?

FSA: The structure and organizational model was a huge learning experience for all of us. It had some incredibly powerful results, including a truly non-hierarchical working dynamic between the four of us that enabled unanimous decision-making and open discussion. We shared responsibility for almost every aspect of the organization. To do this productively took time, discussion, and trust. It is certainly not the most efficient, but we believe in its benefits over this downside.

Despite our intentions as organizers to make the program itself non-hierarchical, it became difficult for us to blend into the participant group and separate ourselves from those roles as we attempted to hand over the torch. The incredible complexity of running a school and the huge amount of admin work involved proved almost impossible to part with. This is an area that we plan to focus on in the future. In many ways we did too much, and further iterations of the school may reimagine it with more flexibility and with a more established system for handing off responsibility."



"Leo: Has working on Free School of Architecture offered ways to share knowledge with other groups thinking about alternative education?

FSA: We are only one example of many types of alternative educational initiatives arising, in the architecture education world but also in the art world, as education becomes increasingly more expensive and continues to perpetuate the agenda of those with cultural power and capital. We have been in touch with other schools with similar intentions, like Utopia School, Learning Gardens, and Aformal Academy, and there is an incredible opportunity to develop a kind of global network of knowledge and ideas exchange. Eventually, we would like to compile a “Free School Tool Kit” to allow others to run similar events and build on what we have learned so far. In fact, we used are.na throughout the summer as part of this same intention towards knowledge sharing. We wanted it to be both a resource for participants but also a growing archive to document the summer in the hopes that it might be interesting or useful to others. It still needs another layer of editing and uploading in order to work as a full archive or tool kit, but it did act as an ongoing platform for exchange at the time. Hopefully in the future we can continue to use it as a way for non-participants to engage as well.

Next up, we (the organizers) are traveling to the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany to take part in their “Parliament of Schools,” along with others from around the world, including Public School for Architecture, Open Raumlabor University, and many more. It should be a fantastic occasion to engage with and learn about other organizations and explore the future of pedagogy within the architectural field. We’re very excited about how it might influence what we do next!"
unlearning  hierarchy  horizontality  elishacohen  lillicarr  karinaandreeva  tessaforde  2019  freeschools  2017  2018  unschooling  interdisciplinary  freeness  inclusivity  responsibility  decisionmaking  participation  participatory  experimentation  experience  architects  architecture  design  are.na 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Justice in America Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition - The Appeal
"On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent send-off to our second season."

[full transcript on page]

"I grew up in New York City and came of age in 1980s. So, um, when I was coming of age in the city, it was kind of the early eighties were a fraught moment for many different kinds of reasons. The tail end of deinstitutionalization. So the first time where we actually started seeing homeless people outside on the streets. Michael Stewart was killed by the police in 1983 which was a very big moment for me. I was 12 years old and that really impacted me. My, um, older siblings were very animated by that fact. Um, crack cocaine is coming into being, this is the time of ACT UP. Um, this is when Reagan comes to power. It was a very tumultuous period and moment of time. So coming of age in that time led me to start organizing for racial justice as a teenager. And I also came of age during the time when there was the Bensonhurst case where a young black man was pursued and then killed by a mob of white young people who were close to my age because he supposedly talked to a white girl in a way that people were not happy about. The Howard Beach incident comes up in 1986. There was a lot happening during my teenagers in the city and I did not have an analysis of the criminal punishment system at that time. I just saw a lot of my friends, I grew up on the Lower East Side, so a lot of my friends ending up in juvie and then in prison and I didn’t, and the cops were always in our neighborhood harassing people and I did not really put all these things together, but I had a frame that was a racial justice frame at a very young age, mainly because of my parents. My mom and my dad. Um, my father, who’d been a socialist in the anti-colonial struggles in Guinea. Like I had a politics at home, but all I understood was like they were coming after black people in multiple different kinds of ways. It wasn’t until I was older and I had come back from college, um, I went to school in Montreal, Canada, came back to the city right after, I was 20 years old when I graduated from college, came back to the city and got a job working in Harlem at the, um, Countee Cullen Library and then ended up teaching in Harlem. And it was there that I found out that all of my students were also getting enmeshed in the criminal punishment system. But I still didn’t have a really, like I didn’t have a politic about it. It wasn’t until a very tragic story that occurred with one of my students who ended up killing another one of my students that I became very clearly aware of the criminal punishment system cause they were going to try to, um, basically try him as an adult. The person who did the killing, he was only 16. And it was that incident that kind of propelled me into trying to learn about what the system was, what it was about. And it concurrently, it was also the time when I started to search for restorative justice because it occurred to me, in watching the family of my student who had been killed react to the situation, that they did not want punishment for the person who killed their daughter. They were, uh, they wanted some accountability and they were also talking about the fact that he did not want him charged as an adult."



"people who are practitioners of restorative justice see restorative justice as a philosophy and ideology, a framework that is much broader than the criminal punishment system. It is about values around how we treat each other in the world. And it’s about an acknowledgement that because we’re human beings, we hurt each other. We cause harm. And what restorative justice proposes is to ask a series of questions. Mostly the three that are kind of advanced by Howard Zehr, who is the person who about 40 years ago popularized the concept of restorative justice in the United States. He talks about since we want to address the violation in the relationships that were broken as a result of violence and harm, that you want to ask a question about who was hurt, that that is important to ask, that you want to ask then what are the obligations? What are the needs that emerge from that hurt? And then you want to ask the question of whose job is it to actually address the harm? And so because of that, those questions of what happened, which in the current adversarial system are incidental really, you know, it’s who did this thing, what rules were broken? How are we going to actually punish the people who broke the rules? And then whose role is it to do that? It’s the state’s. In restorative justice it’s: what happened? Talk about what happened, share what happened, discuss in a, you know, kind of relational sense what happened. And then it’s what are your needs? Would do you need as a result of this? Because harms engender needs that must be met, right? So it asks you to really think that through. And then it says, you know, how do we repair this harm and who needs to be at the table for that to happen. It invites community in. It invites other people who were also harmed because we recognize that the ripples of harm are beyond the two individuals that were involved, it’s also the broader community and the society at large. So that’s what restorative justice, at its base, is really the unit of concern is the broken relationship and the harm. Those are the focus of what we need to be addressing. And through that, that obviously involves the criminal punishment system. In many ways RJ has become co-opted by that system. So people were initially proponents of restorative justice have moved their critique away from using RJ and talking about instead transformative justice. That’s where you see these breakdowns occurring because the system has taken on RJ now as quote unquote “a model for restitution.”"



"Restorative justice and transformative justice, people say they’re interchangeable sometimes, they are not. Because transformative justice people say that you cannot actually use the current punishing institutions that exist. Whereas RJ now is being run in prisons, is being run in schools. Institutions that are themselves violently punishing institutions are now taking that on and running that there. And what people who are advocates of transformative justice say is RJ, because of its focus on the individual, the intervention is on individuals, not the system. And what transformative justice, you know, people, advocates and people who have kind of begun to be practitioners in that have said is we have to also transform the conditions that make this thing possible. And restoring is restoring to what? For many people, the situation that occurred prior to the harm had lots of harm in it. So what are we restoring people to? We have to transform those conditions and in order to do that we have to organize, to shift the structures and the systems and that will also be very important beyond the interpersonal relationships that need to be mended."



"I reject the premise of restorative and transformative justice being alternatives to incarceration. I don’t reject the premise that we should prefigure the world in which we want to live and therefore use multiple different kinds of ways to figure out how to address harm. So here’s what I mean, because people are now saying things like the current criminal punishment system is broken, which it is not. It is actually operating exactly as designed. And that’s what abolition has helped us to understand is that the system is actually relentlessly successful at targeting the people it wants and basically getting the outcomes that wants from that. So if you understand that to be the case, then you are in a position of very much understanding that every time we use the term “alternative to incarceration” what comes to your mind?"



"You’re centering the punishing system. When I say alternative to prison, all you hear is prison. And what that does is that it conditions your imagination to think about the prison as the center. And what we’re saying as transformative and restorative justice practitioners is that the prison is actually an outcome of a broader system of violence and harm that has its roots in slavery and before colonization. And here we are in this position where all you then think about is replacing what we currently use prisons for, for the new thing. So what I mean by that is when you think of an alternative in this moment and you’re thinking about prison, you just think of transposing all of the things we currently consider crimes into that new world."



"It has to fit that sphere. But here’s what I, I would like to say lots of crimes are not harmful to anybody."



"And it’s also that we’re in this position where not all crimes are harms and not all harms are actually crimes. And what we are concerned with as people who practice restorative and transformative justice is harm across the board no matter what. So I always tell people when they say like, ‘oh, we’re having an alternative to incarceration or alternative to prison.’ I’m like, okay, what are you decriminalizing first? Do we have a whole list of things? So possession of drugs is a criminal offense right now. I don’t want an alternative to that. I want you to leave people the hell alone."



"Transformative justice calls on us to shatter binaries of all different types. Most of the people who currently are locked up, for example, in our prisons and jails, are people who are victims of crime first. They’ve been harmed and have harmed other people. The “perpetrator,” quote unquote… [more]
mariamekaba  clintsmith  josieduffyrice  prisonindustrialcomplex  prisions  violence  restorativejustice  justice  prisonabolition  punishment  2019  angeladavis  howardzehr  incarceration  community  humans  transformativejustice  harm  racism  responsibility  repair  people  carceralstate  binaries  accountability  police  lawenforcement  jails  coercion  gender  criminalization  humanism  decency  humanity  transformation  survival  bodies  abolition  abolitionists  nilschristie  ruthiegilmore  fayeknopp  presence  absence  systemsthinking  systems  complexity  capitalism  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  livingwage  education  organization  organizing  activism  change  changemaking  exploitation  dehumanization  optimism 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Pascal’s Climate – Popula
"For a decade or more there has been a cottage industry in telling people that individual action is meaningless in the face of the overwhelming force of climate change. Plane rides don’t matter, eating meat doesn’t matter; 100 companies are causing 71% of the emissions and it is they who are the problem; only governments acting in concert have the remotest chance of arresting the disaster. And so on.

One of the most influential of these arguments, with 328,677 shares at the time of writing, is a much-quoted 2017 Guardian piece by Martin Lukacs, who wrote, “Stop obsessing with how personally green you live–and start collectively taking on corporate power.”

“While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives,” he added, “fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71%. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.”

While I sympathize with Lukacs’s desire to rein in the energy oligarchs, he and other anti-individualists, like Eric Levitz in last week’s Intelligencer, are dead wrong that individual action doesn’t count.

The 71% of emissions that 100 companies are responsible for are producing?? They are mainly the result of extracting and refining fossil fuels that individuals are using for flying and driving and importing bottled water from glaciers and plastic bird feeders from China. Economic questions of supply and demand are far more salient to the matter of emissions than is any aspect of political will.

Human activity is interconnected. When the breakneck demand for these things ends–as indeed it must and will, either in time, or too late–there will no longer be a market for what the energy oligarchs are selling. From a purely logical economic perspective, it’s the only real way to stop them.

Let’s have a look at this remark of Lukacs’s again.

“Collectively taking on corporate power” is just exactly what will happen when millions of individuals stop flying on airplanes, which, again, is a thing that has to happen in order for the planet to survive. Whether through a global individual cap and trade program or simply because individual people collectively realize, together, that they are dooming the Earth and had better drive to their next holiday, is entirely immaterial. Though even a casual witness to the abject stupidity of the world’s politicians must surely suspect that the latter course has better chances.

In any case, the bigger problem with the anti-individualist stance to taking collective action is an even simpler one. There is no way to achieve collective action without individual action. Collective action doesn’t fall off a tree, it is made up of countless individual acts that turn into conversations, writings, meetings, plans. Individual actions are the only material from which collective action can be made, and to suggest that individuals are helpless and somehow just don’t matter now, in the current emergency, at a time of rising confusion, anger, hopelessness and dread, is nothing short of enraging.

[image: The most effective individual steps to tackle climate change
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html ]

In the Intelligencer, Levitz writes: “With climate change, the pointlessness of individual action is especially acute. If you accept the scientific consensus on warming, then you know your personal carbon footprint is a drop in the rising sea. So, why on earth would you feel compelled to lower your quality of life for the sake of cutting carbon emissions by a wholly negligible amount?”

What even?

Why would you even consider dialing back your own special role in destroying the planet? Why not go vacation in Tulum, while you’re at it, why not go befoul The Beach, you saw it in a movie?

It is high time for an end to the nihilist bullshit that is telling the public it doesn’t matter whether or not they eat meat or fly in airplanes. It does. Not least because even a small chance to contribute to a better possible future gives life and work meaning and value—conceivably, maybe, even more value than just obediently swallowing down your consumerist “quality of life,” spoon-fed to you by the loving algorithms of the surveillance state.

A less lemming-like, suicidal, self-loathing, murderous society would just plain say the obvious: every decision matters, in a time of crisis. Individual, collective, political, business: human life is a single gigantic machine of endless complexity, working every second on innumerable levels, and every iota of the machine involves a responsibility to society and to the future.

So if the planet is to survive the effects of human stupidity and shortsightedness—which question, admittedly, does incline the rational mind to pessimism, but still—and if every single decision counts: Why not take the Pascal’s Wager position? Why not act as if success, as if a good surprise, were possible?

In the Oxford philosophical journal The Monist of July 2011 (Vol. 94, No. 3, “Morality and Climate Change”) Avram Hiller’s (really excellent) article “Climate Change and Individual Responsibility” [JSTOR] applied a philosophical and moral lens to these questions. Hiller gives five conjectures “as to why people erroneously do not believe that individual actions have much or any effects” on climate change. They include the “Nero’s Fiddle” effect, which is like “it’s too late, fuck it, it doesn’t matter what I do”; psychic numbing, or failing to reason properly because too freaked out; limited capacity for valuing, or, “I’m too small to matter at all,” and fallacy of double-division, which is kind of like, “I can get away with putting just one straw on the camel’s back; if anything goes wrong it’s not because of me.” But really the first conjecture he gives is the best one.
Selfishness and denial. “In fact, we do in some way understand that individual actions are significant, but are also aware that if we countenance this fact and wish to remain moral, our whole lives must change. So we subconsciously let ourselves believe that small individual actions in fact make no significant difference.”
"
mariabustillos  martinlukacs  sustainability  individuals  collectivism  ericlevitz  nihilism  economics  politics  collectiveaction  individualaction  carbonfootprint  globalwarming  responsibility  society  selfishness  small  local  hyperlocal  energy  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Harvard Design Magazine: No. 46 / No Sweat
"This issue of Harvard Design Magazine is about the design of work and the work of design. “No Sweat” challenges designers to speculate on the spaces of work in an accelerated future, and to imagine a world in which a novel ethics of labor can emerge. What scenarios and spaces can we imagine for the next generation of work? How can we anticipate and formulate work environments and experiences that are productive, humane, and ecologically responsible?

From corner office to kitchen sink, from building site to factory floor, from cubicle to car to coffee shop, work shapes our lives and physical world. Whether we produce objects, generate ideas, manage processes, or perform services, work is a hybrid of dedication and alienation, power and oppression. As work spaces morph to integrate machines that mimic, assist, or complement human abilities, the way we perform work, and the way we feel about it, change too.

To work (to put forth effort) and the work (that effort, or the result it generates) are sources of pride and shame, fulfillment and drudgery. As many jobs become obsolete, and as populations are displaced under the pressures of climate change and political turmoil, the boundaries of the workplace are shifting in space and time. Though some claim that a world without work is on the horizon, “labor-saving” innovations are enmeshed with human exploitation, and housework and care work remain at the crux of persistent inequalities.

Paradoxically, the more that work, as we once understood it, appears to be receding, the more omnipresent and ambiguous it becomes. The workplace is everywhere—or is it nowhere?"

[via: "also check out Andrew Herscher’s piece in HDM 46 (not online) for critique of how architects mobilize constructions of “community”"
https://twitter.com/anamarialeon/status/1101941868210909184 ]
design  work  pride  shame  2018  responsibility  ecology  sustainability  humanism  productivity  labor  ethics  fulfillment  drudgery  jobs  workplace  housework  exploitation  emotionallabor  care  caring  maintenance  andrewherscher  architecture 
march 2019 by robertogreco
THE CLOUD INSTITUTE
"Educating for a Sustainable Future

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Our work with Pre K-12 schools, school systems, and Higher Education institutions all revolves around the curriculum, instruction and assessment, aspects of Education for Sustainability, as well as organizational and leadership development.

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Who We Serve
Our community is made up of clients - past and present, students, friends, and practitioners in our network around the U.S. and all over the world. We learn from one another as we share questions, insights and effective practices.

Play The Fish Game
Play The Fish Game Online!
The objective of the game is to catch as many fish as possible within 10 rounds. Will you break the system?

EfS Digital Library
The EfS Digital Library houses units, lessons, templates, assessment protocols, design tools, workshop handouts, videos and podcasts that support education for sustainability.

Green Schools Conference
April 8 - 10, 2019 | The Green Schools Conference & Expo
May 24 - 26, 2019 | Goethe-Institut Sustainability Summit "
cloudinstitute  jaimecloud  sustainability  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  future  optimism  k12  highereducation  highered  systemsthinking  change  adaptability  ecosystems  responsibility  leadership  systems  criticalthinking  hope 
february 2019 by robertogreco
You Don’t Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy.
"It’s the holidays, and you long to be cozy.

You want to curl up in a plush armchair next to a crackling fire. You want the softest of blankets and wooliest of sweaters. You want to devour grandma’s pecan fudge, get tipsy on eggnog with your cousins, and watch Miracle on 34th Street — mom’s favorite — for the thirty-fourth time. Or maybe neither Christmas nor family gatherings are your thing, but you like the idea of sipping hot toddies and playing board games with a few close friends while outside the snow falls and the lights twinkle.

But you can’t have it, because you couldn’t spring for a plane ticket. Or relatives are in town, but times are tight, and it seemed irresponsible to pass up the Christmas overtime pay. Maybe everything circumstantially fell into place, but you can’t relax. You’re eyeing your inbox, anxious about the work that’s not getting done. You’re last-minute shopping, pinching pennies, thinking Scrooge had some fair points. Or you’re hiding in your childhood bedroom, binge-watching television and scrolling social media, because a rare break from the pressures of daily life feels more like an occasion to zone out than to celebrate and be merry.

Either way, you feel terrible, because you know that someone somewhere is literally roasting chestnuts on an open fire, and you’re missing out.

The Danes have a word for the thing you desperately want but can’t seem to manifest: hygge.

The word isn’t easy to translate. It comes from a Norwegian word that means “wellbeing,” but the contemporary Danish definition is more expansive than that.

In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, author Meik Wiking writes, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allowed to let our guard down.”

You can have hygge any time, but Danes strongly associate it with Christmas, the most hyggelig time of the year. When asked what things they associate most with hygge, Danes answered, in order of importance: hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, music, holiday, sweets and cake, cooking, and books. Seven out of ten Danes say hygge is best experienced at home, and they even have a word for it — hjemmehygge, or home hygge.

But Wiking stresses that while hygge has strong aesthetic properties, it’s more than the sum of its parts. You don’t just see it, you feel it.

“Hygge is an indication that you trust the ones you are with and where you are,” he writes, “that you have expanded your comfort zone to include other people and you feel you can be completely yourself around other people.” The opposite of hygge is alienation.

It’s no coincidence that this concept is both native to and universally understood in the same country that consistently dominates the World Happiness Report and other annual surveys of general contentment. On rare occasions when Denmark is surpassed by another country, that country is always a Scandinavian neighbor.

What makes people in these countries happier than the rest of us is actually really simple. Danes and their neighbors have greater access to the building blocks of happiness: time, company, and security.

Scandinavians don’t have these things just because they value them more, or for cultural reasons that are congenital, irreplicable, and beyond our reach. People all over the world value time, company, and security. What Scandinavians do have is a political-economic arrangement that better facilitates the regular expression of those values. That arrangement is social democracy.

The Politics of Hygge

Denmark is not a socialist country, though like its neighbor Sweden, it did come close to collectivizing industry in the 1970s. That effort was driven by “unions, popular movements, and left parties,” write Andreas Møller Mulvad and Rune Møller Stahl in Jacobin. “It was these mass forces — not benevolent elites, carefully weighing the alternatives before deciding on an enlightened mix of capitalism and socialism — who were the architects and impetus behind the Nordic model. They are the ones responsible for making the Nordic countries among the happiest and most democratic in the world.”

A strong capitalist offensive stopped this Scandinavian coalition from realizing the transition to socialism, and the legacy of their efforts is a delicate compromise. The private sector persists, but taxes are both progressive and high across the board. The country spends 55 percent of its total GDP publicly, making it the third-highest government spender per capita in the world. Meanwhile, the power of employers is partially checked by strong unions, to which two-thirds of Danes belong.

This redistributive arrangement significantly reduces the class stratification that comes from capitalism. As a result, Denmark has one of the highest degrees of economic equality in the world.

All of that public spending goes to funding a strong welfare state. Everybody pays in, and everybody reaps the rewards. This egalitarian, humane, and solidaristic model allows the values associated with hygge to flourish. It also gives people more opportunities to act on them.

In Denmark, health care is free at the point of service. Same goes for education, all the way through college and even grad school. Twenty percent of the Danish housing stock is social housing, regulated and financially supported by the state but owned in common by tenants, and organized in the “tradition of tenants’ participation and self-governance.” Denmark offers year-long paid parental leave, and guarantees universal child care for all children beginning the moment that leave ends, when the child is one year old.

Similarly, due in large part to the past and and present strength of unions, Denmark has worker-friendly labor laws and standards which make for a more harmonious work-life balance. Danes get five weeks’ paid vacation, plus an additional nine public holidays. Unlike the United States, Denmark has a national paid sick-leave policy. Denmark also has generous unemployment benefits and a wage subsidy program for people who want to work but, for reasons outside their control, need more flexible arrangements.

The normal work week in Denmark is set at thirty-seven hours, and people tend to stick to it. Only 2 percent of Danes report working very long hours. In a survey of OECD countries Denmark ranked fourth for people spending the most time devoted to leisure and personal care. (The US ranked thirtieth.)

All of this has a profound effect on individuals’ ability to experience pleasure, trust, comfort, intimacy, peace of mind — and of course, the composite of these things, hygge.

For one thing, there are only so many hours in a day. And there are some activities that make us happy, and some that make us unhappy.

The Princeton Affect and Time Survey found that the activities that make us happiest include playing with children, listening to music, being outdoors, going to parties, exercising, hanging out with friends, and spending time with pets. (These are also the activities that Danes associate with hygge.) The ones that make us least happy include paid work, domestic work, home maintenance and repairs, running errands, personal medical care, and taking care of financial responsibilities.

Everyone has to do activities in the unhappy category in order to keep their affairs in order. But it makes sense that if you take some of those responsibilities off people’s plate and design the economy to give them more time to do activities in the happy category, they will be more content and lead more enriching lives.

Many working-class Americans don’t have much time for activities in the happy category, because they work multiple jobs or long hours and also have to keep a household in order without much assistance. Many more are afraid that if they take time away from their stressful responsibilities, they will overlook something important and fall behind, and there will be no social safety net to catch them — a pervasive anxiety that creeps up the class hierarchy. This breeds alienation, not intimacy.

Additionally, working people in highly capitalist countries, where economic life is characterized by cutthroat competition and the punishment for losing the competition is destitution, tend to develop hostile relationships to one another, which is not very hyggelig.

The social-democratic model is predicated instead on solidarity: my neighbor and I both pay taxes so that we can both have a high standard of living. We care for each other on the promise that we will each be cared for. By working together instead of against each other, we both get what we need. Universal social programs like those that make up the Scandinavian welfare states are thus engines of solidarity, impressing upon people that their neighbor is not an opponent or an obstacle, but a partner in building and maintaining society.

By pitting people against each other, neoliberal capitalism promotes suspicion and animosity. This frequently maps onto social divisions and manifests as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and so on. But it also just makes people guarded and antisocial in general. People who live in social democracies are far from invulnerable to prejudice or misanthropy, but the social compact remains more likely to promote kindness, trust, and goodwill among people than neoliberal capitalism — and indeed the Danes are some of the most trusting people in the world, of friends and strangers alike.

One of these political-economic arrangements strengthens people’s connection to the fundamentals of happiness, and of hygge — time, company, and security — while the other severs it. The abundance or scarcity of these fundamentals forms the material basis of collective social life.

The Ambiance Agenda

Hygge is not just a cultural … [more]
hygge  meaganday  2018  denmark  socialdemocracy  socialism  socialsafetynet  politics  policy  happiness  comfort  us  coreyrobin  scandinavia  solidarity  wellbeing  responsibility  uncertainty  anxiety  neoliberalism  capitalism  risk  civics  qualityoflife  pleasure  multispecies  family  trust  intimacy  peaceofmind  leisure  work  labor  health  healthcare  unions  time  slow  fragility  taxes  inequality  company  security 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen | BAMPFA
"This first survey exhibition of the work of Chilean-born artist Cecilia Vicuña traces her career to stage a conversation about discarded and displaced people, places, and things in a time of global climate change. The exhibition includes key installations, sculptures, texts, and videos from a multidisciplinary practice that has encompassed performance, sculpture, drawing, video, poetry, and site-specific installations over the course of the past forty years.

Working within the overlapping discourses of Conceptual art, land art, poetry, and feminist art practices, Vicuña has long refused categorical distinctions, operating fluidly between concept and craft, text and textile. Her practice weaves together disparate artistic disciplines as well as cultural and social communities—with shared relationships to land and sea, and to the economic and environmental disparities of the twenty-first century.

The exhibition presents a large selection of Vicuña's precario (precarious) sculptures produced over the last four decades that feature found objects in lyrical juxtaposition, as well as a monumental hanging structure created out of materials scavenged from the ever-diminishing Louisiana coast. Reframing dematerialization as both a formal consequence of 1960s Conceptualism and radical climate change, Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen examines a process that shapes public memory and responsibility."

[See also: https://bampfa.org/event/reading-cecilia-vicu%C3%B1a
https://bampfa.org/event/cecilia-vicu%C3%B1a-performance ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk37axFFoPk/ ]
ceciliavicuña  togo  tosee  glvo  chile  art  bampfa  2018  displacement  multidisciplinary  artists  video  poetry  sculpture  climatechange  memory  responsibility 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Frontiers of Design - Anab Jain
["Kill your own profession whilst gushing."
https://twitter.com/anabjain/status/997419243988713472 ]

["“It has become a moment where design really feels like part of the problem”. @anabjain, Co-Founder and Director at @Superflux, share her thoughts on the Frontiers of Design. #frontiersofdesign #timewellspent #design https://frontiersfilm.com/voice/anab-jain "
https://twitter.com/doberman/status/997415130882367488 ]
anabjain  design  ethics  superflux  responsibility  2018 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Nadir Nahdi en Instagram: “I travel all over and notice men around the world in crisis. Lost between duty and modernity, desire and responsibility, disempowerment and…”
"I travel all over and notice men around the world in crisis. Lost between duty and modernity, desire and responsibility, disempowerment and ego, lust and chivalry, emotion and power. All building up to one messy implosion. Took this photo and thought it expresses something I can’t."
modernity  duty  masculinity  2018  photography  disempowerment  ego  chivalry  emotion  power  impotence  lust  desire  responsibility  breakdown  transition  economics  work  labor  purpose  men 
april 2018 by robertogreco
“The Moral Crisis of the University” | Gardner Writes
"Michael B. Katz is a new discovery for me (h/t Roving Librarian). His scholarship on the history of public education in the U.S.is fascinating, troubling, and revelatory. I’m sure his conclusions are contested–whose aren’t?–but at times the clarity and forcefulness of his insights take my breath away.

“The Moral Crisis of the University,” reprinted in Katz’s last book, Reconstructing American Education (1987), is full of such insights. The essay doesn’t make for happy reading, but every time I read it I come away with a renewed understanding of what will be lost if higher education centered on the life of the mind and nurtured by a strong sense of civic obligation disappears. In many cases, this has already happened. The change Katz describes in 1987 has accelerated in ways that may go beyond his worst nightmare. Along with that acceleration, of course, is a great deal of business as usual, as there always is. We look here when the real erosion is happening there. It’s hard to know where to look, even when there are no distractions–and there are always distractions.

There’s an old joke about going broke, credited to Hemingway: Q: “How did you go bankrupt?” A: “Little by little, then all at once.” During the little by little stage, people who sound various alarms risk being called cranks, or worse. And it’s true: a premature or mischievous cultivation of outrage may damage or destroy what little semblance of community may be left.

And yet, the little by little becomes greater every year. Michael Katz gives me a way to see that. With that clarity also comes hope, the hope that recognizing problems really is the first step toward addressing them, managing them, perhaps even solving them.

Here, then, for Week 7 of Open Learning ’18, my last week as hub director, is some Michael Katz for us to consider together.
[W]hat is it exactly that makes a university distinct from other social institutions? [Robert Paul] Wolff offered a compelling definition based on a conception of the ideal university as a “community of learning.” The ideal university, he argued, should be “a community of persons united by collective understandings, by common and communal goals, by bonds of reciprocal obligation, and by a flow of sentiment which makes the preservation of the community an object of desire, not merely a matter of prudence or a command of duty.” Community implies a form of social obligation governed by principles different from those operative in the marketplace and state. Laws of of supply and demand lose priority; wage-labor is not the template for all human relations; the translation of individuals into commodities is resisted. The difficult task of defining common goals or acceptable activity is neither avoided nor deflected onto bureaucracy….

For all their problems, universities and their faculties remain immensely privileged. They retain a freedom of activity and expression not permitted in any other major social institution. There are two justifications for this privilege. One is that it is an essential condition of teaching and learning. The other is that universities have become the major source of moral and social criticism in modern life. They are the major site of whatever social conscience we have left…. If the legitimacy of universities rested only on their service to the marketplace and state, internal freedom would not be an issue. But their legitimacy rests, in fact, on something else: their integrity. Like all privileges, the freedom enjoyed by universities carries correlative responsibilities. In their case it is intellectual honesty and moral courage. Modern universities are the greatest centers of intellectual power in history. Without integrity, they can become little more than supermarkets with raw power for sale. This is the tendency in the modern history of the higher learning. It is what I call the moral crisis of the university.


I firmly believe that these large questions are essential foundations for any effective change or conservation in higher education. For always some new things must be invented, some things will benefit from change, and some things must be conserved. Some core principles must remain non-negotiable. I agree with Katz: tenured faculty in higher education are the last, best hope for addressing these large questions of common goals and acceptable activities.

It may not yet be too late."
gardnercampbell  via:lukeneff  2018  lifeofthemind  liberalarts  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  community  learning  civics  robertpaulwolff  michaelkatz  1987  howwelearn  purpose  meaning  bureaucracy  interdependence  collectivism  understanding  responsibility  integrity  morality  ethics  neoliberalism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Gravis McElroy on Twitter: "hey how about that the austin bomber was a deeply mediocre white man with the most basic-ass bone-stock conservative psuedopolitics with the reek of having been culled entirely from online comments who could have predicted"
"hey how about that the austin bomber was a deeply mediocre white man with the most basic-ass bone-stock conservative psuedopolitics with the reek of having been culled entirely from online comments who could have predicted

weird. can't figure out where he got the idea to kill random people of color from. i mean he did parrot the drivel of people who i remember even in 2000 couldn't go ten minutes without saying we should kill someone for not being white. no idea where he got this idea

https://medium.com/mammon-machine-zeal/ultraviolent-flash-games-after-9-11-b416b836f28e … i was just reading this yesterday and reflecting on how teens talked online in this era

I can tell you that a tremendous number of people, a really ghastly number, spent the entirety of their teen years not going more than a few minutes without saying or hearing "kill" directed broadly at a group of people. I was in that group.

that is to say, i was in the set of people who constantly talked about killing people

that's how we talked about everything. it was the go-to. virtually any described offense was met with the response that we should kill an entire group of people. the homeless, POC, gay people, trans people, nothing garnered more than a second or two of thought

anyone, absolutely anyone the least bit different than us - mediocre white teens - needed to be killed. It's still how people talk on 4 c h a n, a time capsule permanently frozen in 2006 with all its members permanently frozen at age 20.

nothing ever changes there. nothing changes on forums in general. the world is fixed permanently in the year that people joined the forum, because everyone on the forum has spent every day since they joined the forum on the forum.

By the way, people keep saying they remember the games in that ZEAL article. I don't, but the article still hit home because there were thousands of them. Thousands upon thousands. All indistinguishable. This is what we /did/ in that time.

there was a period in the early 2000s when the response to virtually any figure entering the media cycle was the immediate release of a complete multimedia spread including images, music and games, all depicting their death or suffering.

most of this was not in response to any kind of actual thought or emotion. there was a group-hate, where the existence of nearly anything was reason to hate it. the amount of hate in teenage boys was an immeasurable constant; we had an infinite supply of it.

why were my "peers" telling me to hate boy bands in 1999? i have no idea. nobody ever explained it, it was just assumed. this was the zeitgeist, a zeitgeist that was unexamined even by teenager standards.

but this shit was very much the root of a lot of what's going on right now. at age 12 i entered the greater growing web and was immediately inducted into a community of seething, pointless hatred directed at everything

I think I would have been a nicer person if I had been stopped from going to newgrounds. I think it made me a piece of shit and an asshole and I would have stayed that way and become a real mother fucker if not for friends specifically targeting my shittiness.

Gravis McElroy Retweeted the government man [https://twitter.com/me_irl/status/976490292948951041 ]
@me_irl
hey yeah what *was* this. i can see its roots start to emerge by like the 1970s in the form of compulsory derisive juvenile "parody" versions of absolutely everything

… I have no idea. I didn't go to school for this so I'm pretty sure someone at a university has a pretty good lock on why this happened, but yeah, it's kind of an incredibly scary part of our society that I've never seen addressed in any way.

Who told 11 year olds to start casually quipping about killing Barney? I know we weren't enjoying it. It wasn't funny or fun. We felt /compelled/, it was /expected/, and i suspect the motivations were circular with no patient zero to be found.

I can't harp on this enough: Nobody was having fun. Nothing going on on Newgrounds or anywhere else that was in this vein was fun. It wasn't entertaining. Even as dipshit kids, this whole thing was strained.

There was a formula. Nobody knew where it came from, but it seemed to have been there forever. The response to /all/ cultural phenomena was to create something deeply cynical and usually violent and we were doing it like we were punching a clock. The laughs were forced.

I can't prove this. The time has passed, and at the time I had few personal friends. But what my gut told me at the time was that nobody was having a good time, I just didn't know how to read it. Now I definitely know what those feelings meant.

Gravis McElroy Retweeted [ande dooting] [https://twitter.com/quicksilvre/status/976492376645603329 ]
@quicksilvre
Right? It felt like we grew up in an age where we weren't allowed to truly, unironically like things or people

This is exactly on point. We didn't like anything. Nobody liked anything. Nobody admitted to liking anything. Liking things wasn't cool.

And that's how we now have people in their mid thirties who are only just beginning to whisper, on social media where they're ostensibly surrounded by friends, that they /might/ like anime or fantasy novels or or or. Or anything that isn't cynical

Oh btw if you want an example of something that's very very cynical, have you considered: call of shooty

First person shooters were fuckin' *there* for us, ready to swoop in and offer the cynicism we'd been raised with. Kill everything. Blow everything up. Yawn. The nihilism we'd been taught primed the *pump* for that shit.

I always come back to this when I talk about this stuff: knowing what caused this is important because we have millions of people, no, read that again, millions of people who were injured by this and don't know it and are not getting any help culturally.

Every one of them is a problem we have to solve eventually and none of us have any idea how to do that and we have to figure it out. Because we can't just write off a whole generation, "anyone who was young and online in 2000," they are our problem to deal with now.

They are here, and they are permanently angry and hate sincerity, and we actually can't coexist with them. They are turning into nazis because they don't know how not to.

It's nice to think "oh we'll just kill the nazis" but there are more ticking-time-bomb fascists that came out of this than anyone realizes. They feel alone in the world, they don't connect with anyone or anything, they have no anchors at all. They never learned how to be happy.

The fuckface who was bombing black people in Texas probably came out of this shit. He was a little young for newgrounds specifically, but I can see the path to being "radicalized by the void," if you will. becoming a monster because you were taught that becoming a person is wrong

And you know what? The internet is the problem. The internet is a huge fucking problem and we all know it, we all know it's putting shit in front of young people that they aren't ready for. And we knew it then, our parents were right about it, just not right enough.

I don't know what can possibly be done about it. No program of censorship would be right or effective or anything but counterproductive but, fuck, we can't write this off.

In my view we have a tremendous number of dangerous broken men in this nation now specifically because of the unregulated nightmare that the web was in the early 2000s and I don't know what to do with that information but I'm not going to forget it.

that was me just a few years ago. i remember it vividly. the difference between me and Them is solely that someone managed to break through the shell and teach me that it was worth it to be a person, to not sleepwalk through life.

https://medium.com/mammon-machine-zeal/ultraviolent-flash-games-after-9-11-b416b836f28e … I'm linking this again because ZEAL deserves the credit for this thread; that article prompted a lot of thought about old memories. They post a lot of insightful stuff that benefits IMO from not being produced by a massive corporate publication."



[also: https://twitter.com/gravislizard/status/976499065461469184

Newgrounds and all those other edgy early 2000s hellholes are all Superfund sites. Sad, shitty things we look back on and say "okay, okay, we fucked up," but even as the words spill out of our mouths we are pouring soil for a new development over another toxic waste dump.

They are not places of honor, no esteemed deed is commemorated there, this thread is a message and part of a system of messages, et cetera. We need to not just skip over this. What is being created /right now/ that is equivalent to those?

https://twitter.com/gravislizard/status/976497457151451136 … also i'd like to clarify this, because I meant to, or felt like i should, or something
The fuckface who was bombing black people in Texas probably came out of this shit. He was a little young for newgrounds specifically, but I can see the path to being "radicalized by the void," if you will. becoming a monster because you were taught that becoming a person is wrong

by "radicalized by the void" I mean that there is a sort of person who does not want to be a person, who hates the idea of becoming a person and the responsibility associated with it. they want nothing more than to be left alone to be mediocre.

a lot of mediocre white men, from the person vomiting slurs on 4c han to the nazis in the street, feel that society is trying to force them to reflect on themselves and /that is what they want to stop/.

It's important to acknowledge that this is true, that their perceived struggle is real, and that our intent is to not let them live the lives they want to live because they are implicitly harmful. We do not have the luxury of apathy, it invariably results in harming the innocent.

The war being fought right now is over apathy. we all know the article by now: "I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About … [more]
crime  masculinity  terrorism  internet  2018  2009s  9/11  children  youth  cynicism  violence  death  emotion  hate  suffering  newgrounds  socialmedia  callofduty  nihilism  mentalillness  censorship  apathy  void  self-worth  life  care  caring  society  reflection  responsibility  personhood  evil  sexism  racism  homophobia  teens 
april 2018 by robertogreco
How to Build Castles in the Air – Teachers Going Gradeless
"One of the more profound ironies of “going gradeless” is realizing just how fundamental grades are to the architecture of schools.

Grades undergird nearly everything we do in education. By threatening late penalties and administering one-shot assessments, we focus our famously distracted students on the task at hand. By regularly updating our online gradebooks, we provide an ongoing snapshot of student performance so precise it can be calculated to the hundredths place.

Grades inform our curriculum and instruction too. Because so much rides on them, it’s essential we build upon the rock of “objective” data, not the shifting sands of human judgment. Thus, we limit ourselves to those kinds of learning that can be easily measured and quantified. A multiple choice quiz testing students’ knowledge of literary devices can be reliably scored by your 10-year-old daughter (not saying I’ve ever done that). A stack of bubble sheets can be scanned on your way out of the building for the summer. Check your results online in the driveway, then go inside and make yourself a margarita.

If you want to evaluate something more complex, like writing, you had better develop an iron-clad rubric and engage in some serious range-finding sessions with your colleagues. Don’t put anything subjective like creativity or risk taking on that rubric — you’re already on shaky ground as it is. Make sure to provide an especially strict template so that the essay is fully prepared to “meet its maker.” Word choice, punctuation, sentence variety, quote incorporation — these are the nuts and bolts of writing. If the Hemingway Editor can’t see it, isn’t it just your opinion?

Hopefully, you see the irony here. Grades don’t communicate achievement; most contain a vast idiosyncratic array of weights, curves, point values, and penalties. Nor do they motivate students much beyond what it takes to maintain a respectable GPA. And by forcing us to focus on so-called objective measures, grades have us trade that which is most meaningful for that which is merely demonstrable: recall, algorithm use, anything that can be reified into a rubric. Grading reforms have sometimes succeeded in making these numbers, levels, and letters more meaningful, but more often than not it is the learning that suffers, as we continually herd our rich, interconnected disciplines into the gradebook’s endless succession of separate cells.

So, as I’ve said before, grades are not great. Nor are the ancillary tools, tests, structures, and strategies that support them. But as anyone who has gone gradeless can tell you, grades don’t just magically go away, leaving us free to fan the flames of intrinsic motivation and student passion. Grades remain the very foundation on which we build. Most gradeless teachers must enter a grade at the end of each marking period and, even if we didn’t, our whole educational enterprise is overshadowed by the specter of college admissions and scholarships. And since grades and tests rank so high in those determinations, we kid ourselves in thinking we’ve escaped their influence.

Even in a hypothetical environment without these extrinsic stresses, students are still subject to a myriad of influences, not the least of which being the tech industry with its constant bombardment of notifications and nudges. This industry, which spends billions engineering apps for maximum engagement, has already rendered the comparatively modest inducements of traditional schooling laughable. Still, the rhetoric of autonomy, passion, and engagement always seems to take this in stride, as if the Buddha — not billionaires — is behind this ever-expanding universe.

Let’s go one more step further, though, and imagine a world without the tech industry. Surely that would be a world in which the “inner mounting flame” of student passion could flourish.

But complete freedom, autonomy, and agency is not a neutral or even acceptable foundation for education. The notion of a blank slate on which to continuously project one’s passion, innovation, or genius is seriously flawed. Sherri Spelic, examining the related rhetoric of design thinking, points out how “neoliberal enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and start-up culture” does little to address “social dilemmas fueled by historic inequality and stratification.” In other words, blank spaces — including the supposed blank space of going gradeless — are usually little more than blind spots. And often these blind spots are where our more marginalized students fall through the cracks.

Even if we were able provide widespread, equitable access to springboards of self-expression, autonomy, and innovation, what then? To what extent are we all unwittingly falling into a larger neoliberal trap that, in the words of Byung-Chul Han, turns each of us into an “auto-exploiting labourer in his or her own enterprise”?
Today, we do not deem ourselves subjugated subjects, but rather projects: always refashioning and reinventing ourselves. A sense of freedom attends passing from the state of subject to that of project. All the same, this projection amounts to a form of compulsion and constraint — indeed, to a more efficient kind of subjectification and subjugation. As a project deeming itself free of external and alien limitations, the I is now subjugating itself to internal limitations and self-constraints, which are taking the form of compulsive achievement and optimization.


One doesn’t have to look too far to find the rhetoric of “harnessing student passion” and “self-regulated learners” to understand the paradoxical truth of this statement. This vision of education, in addition to constituting a new strategy of control, also undermines any sense of classrooms as communities of care and locations of resistance.
@hhschiaravalli:

A5. Watch out for our tendency to lionize those who peddle extreme personalization, individual passion, entrepreneurial mindsets. So many of these undermine any sense of collective identity, responsibility, solidarity #tg2chat


Clearly, not all intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is created equal. Perhaps instead of framing the issue in these terms, we should see it as a question of commitment or capitulation.

Commitment entails a robust willingness to construct change around what Gert Biesta describes as fundamental questions of “content, purpose, and relationship.” It requires that we find ways to better communicate and support student learning, produce more equitable results, and, yes, sometimes shield students from outside influences. Contrary to the soaring rhetoric of intrinsic motivation, none of this will happen by itself.

Capitulation means shirking this responsibility, submerging it in the reductive comfort of numbers or in neoliberal notions of autonomy.

Framing going gradeless through the lens of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, then, is not only misleading and limited, it’s harmful. No teacher — gradeless or otherwise — can avoid the task of finding humane ways to leverage each of these in the service of greater goals. Even if we could, there are other interests, much more powerful, much more entrenched, and much better funded than us always ready to rush into that vacuum.

To resist these forces, we will need to use everything in our power to find and imagine new structures and strategies, building our castles in air on firm foundations."
grades  grading  equity  morivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  measurement  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  socialjustice  neoliberalism  arthurchiaravalli  subjectivity  objectivity  systemsthinking  education  unschooling  deschooling  assessment  accountability  subjectification  subjugation  achievement  optimization  efficiency  tests  testing  standardization  control  teaching  howweteach  2018  resistance  gertbiesta  capitulation  responsibility  structure  strategy  pedagogy  gpa  ranking  sherrispelic  byung-chulhan  compulsion  constraint  self-regulation  passion  identity  solidarity  personalization  collectivism  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
What the Arete Project stands for
"1. We offer a higher vision for higher education. Current academic culture values achievement over learning, knowledge over wisdom, research over teaching, and frills over substance. The Arete Project provides an education in the liberal arts and sciences that helps students become thoughtful, responsible, and virtuous human beings. Students are invested with responsibilities that extend far beyond their GPAs; instructors are valued first as teachers and mentors and second as scholars; and education takes place as a communal enterprise in a setting of rustic simplicity.

2. We educate for service and leadership – with real stakes. Many leadership programs are little more than simulations. Many service-work programs are guilty of “voluntourism.” But at the Arete Project, students must create, sustain, and govern their own educational community, as well as work towards the wellbeing of the institution itself. Student self-governance is real. If the cow isn’t milked, she may sicken, leaving the kitchen without dairy products. If recruitment emails aren’t sent, we may have no applicants the next year. Students must take real responsibility for these critical and other functions of the organization.

3. We provide an educational antidote to social fragmentation. It is no secret that our world has fractured deeply along lines of income, identity, and ideology. Our programs require students to step outside of their comfort zones and to build and share an educational space with people from very different backgrounds. The intimacy of the community (including students, staff, and faculty) allows trust and real relationships to flourish; these relationships, in turn, enable the difficult conversations that our society so badly needs to have.

4. We train thoughtful stewards of the natural world. Though we are all ultimately dependent on the ecosystems around us, few of us feel that dependence in our daily lives. The Arete Project asks students to live for extended periods of time in rustic accommodations within rural and wilderness settings, and much work and recreation is out of doors. The labor program in particular – by having students grow their own food and build their own shelter – provides a chance to think deeply about humans' relationship to nature."
education  areteproject  lauramarcus  highered  highereducation  learning  knowledge  wisdom  teching  research  substance  frills  liberalarts  mentoring  responsibility  service  leadership  voluntourism  servicelearning  self-governance  governance  fragmentation  society  inequality  inclusivity  inclusion  lcproject  openstudioproject  relationships  conversation  stewardship  nature  ecosystems  ecology  sustainability  interdependence  labor  work  ideology  criticalthinking  pedagogy  academia  colleges  universities 
january 2018 by robertogreco
kimberly rose drew on Twitter: "Tadao Ando wall text at the National Art Center was some of the most beautiful text I've ever encountered in a museum. https://t.co/xopnThMZeo"
"Tadao Ando wall text at the National Art Center was some of the most beautiful text I've ever encountered in a museum."

[image:

"Buildings and plants are similar in the sense that they will wither if neglected. They will not grow unless they are attentively watered or maintained and carefully looked after. Architecture is thus an endeavor not only for those who create it but also for all the people who use and nurture it.

A project to create a building and a project to create a forest have the same meaning to me as they both involve engaging with a site and imbuing it with new value. The tree-planting programs that I have led over the years, such as the Hyogo Green Network, Setouchi Olive Fund, Heisei-Era Alley of Cherry Blossoms Campaign, and Umi-no-Mori (Sea Forest), have all been projects to nurture forests through planting trees one at a time using funds donated by the general public. In other words, they have been initiatives premised on community participation. For me, this is the most important thing about these projects.

There is only so much that we can do to solve the problems of the environment as creators of buildings. In the end, it all comes down to the awareness and sensitivity of each and every person living within it. Imagine if everyone saw their everyday surroundings as their own problem and took action in whatever small way they could. There could be no endeavor more creative or richer with possibilities than this. I believe that such visions that people to think freely beyond preconceptions and existing frameworks will be crucial for our future."
tadoando  kimberlyrosedrew  architecture  environment  2017  forests  trees  everyday  responsibility  wareness  surroundings  treeplanting  multispecies  plants  maintenance  growth  care  caring 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Adventures in lifelong learning: Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum
"Yesterday's Warsaw demonstrations were shocking in their scale (60,000 nationalists marched on Poland's independence day; many calling for 'a white Europe of brotherly nations'), but were also disturbing in the way that, whilst confronted with new displays of far-right extremism almost daily - we just don't seem shocked enough. Fascism is like that, of course. It is out-there in the Charlottesville marches, echoed in the words of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, yet it is also insidious. It creeps into lives - and becomes normalised in our language and behaviours. As Umberto Eco wrote in 'Ur-Fascism' (1995, p.8), 'Fascism..can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world.'

The warning signs

I won't use this blog to attempt to summarise important political discussions or try to analyse fascism in any detail; I am not a historian. But given the international rise of the far-right I believe that, as educators, we have a duty to be sensitive to these shifts and as a result should be reshaping our curricula and pedagogy to take account of it.

According to Merriam Webster, fascism is 'a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition'. Eco suggests a list of features that are typical of what he calls Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. As he states, 'These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it'. The first principle, that fascism derives from individual or social frustration, is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. Four other key features are:

1. The cult of tradition. The desire to return to a better age, and a fear of modernism: 'Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message'. (It should be noted that the first thing that fascist states seize is the curriculum).

2. Irrationalism, and the promotion of action over thought. 'Distrust of the intellectual world'.

3. Fear of difference (fascism is racist by definition). 'The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.'

4. The fostering of a spirit of war, heroism and machismo. 'Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual 8 habits, from chastity to homosexuality).'

An anti-fascist curriculum

I suggest here that an anti-fascist curriculum should take account of warning signs such as Eco's, and should also pay heed to Lawrence Britt's 'Fourteen signs of fascism' which include Cronyism and Corruption, the suppression of organised labour, obsession with national security and identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The word 'curriculum' here refers to more than just the syllabus; it incorporates all influences on a child (or adult's) education (buildings, pedagogy, classroom management, the implicit and explicit things that are taught). As teachers we often distract ourselves from the bigger picture; arguments about the specifics of practice give a sense that our classrooms operate as micro-entities, where children are unaffected by the social dysfunction surrounding them. Managing behaviour is seen as a battle of 'them versus us,' and the 'othering' of pupils causes us to neglect the development of our own self-awareness. For this reason, such a curriculum can only start with the teacher.

Below are a few ideas for what an anti-fascist curriculum manifesto might practically include. It can only ever be a guideline; wanting it to become policy or enacted in some way defeats the object of a movement that should sit outside the state. Likewise, it should not dictate the behaviour of teachers, only act as a stimulus that has the potential, not to make large-scale change, but to spark a 'line of flight' that disrupts the status quo. If any of the manifesto chimes with you or you want send any thoughts or ideas as I continue to extend it, please do not hesitate to comment or get in touch with me.

Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum - A Manifesto for Educators

1. We start by examining the 'fascist inside us all.'

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” (Foucoult, 1983)

We recognise our own interior desire for power and accept our responsibility as educators to reflect on this with others in spirit of critical challenge. We undertake critically reflective processes that make us question our own assumptions and prejudices, such as tests of cognitive dissonance to expose gender, race, age, disability bias, and intersections of these and other identities. We examine our own values, as individuals and within our organisations and consider the roots of these and their influences on our practice. Our reflective activity extends to our roles as leaders; we aim to continually refine and develop ourselves as human beings, alongside our students.

2. We promote difference over uniformity.

This includes de-centring the Enlightenment idea of the 'perfect human' in order to augment the voices of oppressed 'others'. We celebrate the living knowledge of our students, and examine the genealogy of the subjects we teach to decolonise and diversify our curricula. We make efforts to connect with others globally to inform our practice and maintain perspective. We challenge the threat of toxic masculinity through deliberate educational approaches which liberate men and boys from the need to conform to 'gender-specific' ideals (which further male supremacy). We reflect on our own privilege.

3. We accept complexity and uncertainty.

Whilst welcoming research-informed practice, we reject the fetishisation of science and the search for the 'ultimate truths' of education theory, which can limit educational autonomy.

4. We resist the reduction of 'education' to instrumentalism.

We widen the purpose of education to take into account the socialisation and subjectification of our students (Biesta, 2010). We believe in education as the practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and consider each subject we teach as a potential vehicle to promote agency and social justice.

5. We are pro-social, critical pedagogues.

We use teaching methods that place an emphasis on the building of community, togetherness and belonging, which have a strong critical and reflective focus. Specific teaching innovations may include philosophical inquiry, restorative practice and thinking environments (and would include the implementation of critical digital pedagogies)."
fascism  sfsh  2017  education  uniformity  difference  complexity  cv  uncertainty  instrumentalism  schools  learning  freedom  community  togetherness  belonging  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  bellhoooks  teaching  howweteach  openstudioproject  lcproject  restorativejustice  thinking  socialization  agency  socialjustice  science  scienticsm  autonomy  truth  enlightenment  humansism  othering  others  decolonization  diversity  curriculum  masculinity  gender  race  reflection  disability  power  responsibility  canon  love  exploitation  xenophobia  irrationalism  action  machismo  war  heroism  nationalism  tradition  modernism  cronyism  corruption  classroommanagement  manifesto  foucault  supremacy  patriarchy  privilege  disabilities  michelfoucault 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Freie Demokratische Schule [Free Democratic School] - Kleine Dorfschule Lassaner WinkelKleine Dorfschule Lassaner Winkel
[text from Google Translate]

"Trust
At our school, trust is the basic quality. It permeates the living relationships between large and small people, on which the work, the game, the life and learning are based. At the same time, the adults trust in the ability of the children to find their own learning rhythm and stand by them carefully.

Connectivity
People are deeply connected to and dependent on other creatures. We ourselves are nature, and to respect and love them is a central concern of life and learning at the Little Village School. We learn the communion with people, plants and animals as a basic necessity, and thus a community culture is practiced at the "Kleine Dorfschule", based on solidarity, caring and responsibility towards the entire community.

Living democracy
The small village school is based on democracy, freedom and human rights. The daily practice of self-determination and participation in decisions concerning the school community enables learners to understand and understand the essence of living democracy at all levels. It is from such an understanding that there is a willingness to take responsibility for themselves and others.

Freedom
The "Kleine Dorfschule" is a place where people learn freely and self-determinedly. We see freedom as a prerequisite for the development and healthy growth of young people. Already Leo Tolstoy (as a pedagogue), Maria Montessori and Célestin Freinet assumed in their work that children need freedom, in order to be able to learn and to develop optimally.

Peace in the
face of dissatisfaction and fragmentation in the present times, we understand the development of communion, co-humanity and nonviolent conflict resolution as a major concern of our school. To live peace requires the respect and appreciation of diversity and equanimity - in coexistence with people as well as with the whole of nature."



"Life and learning are inextricably linked. Living learning can only unfold in an atmosphere of freedom, security, and relationship-an experience that is confirmed today by the findings of brain research and education.

Every child is curious. Inquiring, it conquers its world. From our point of view, young people bear all their potential, which wants to develop freely - beyond anxiety, pressure, and adult-oriented teaching methods. Learning at the Kleine Dorfschule is a creative, lively process, determined by the children themselves.

They are supported by learning companions as well as people of their trust in developing their personal strengths and creatively mastering crises. In the learning groups age-mixed, interdisciplinary learning is the hallmark of the school day. There is a variety of different learning forms, such as courses, learning agreements, individual learning plans, learning in working groups or in free projects, etc. Instead of evaluations and censors, there is careful accompaniment and lively feedback culture. Learning comes from inner motivation: the children follow their own impulses - they learn, play, read, build, calculate, explore, make music according to their individual rhythms. Instead of assessments and censors, there is careful accompaniment and lively feedback culture. Learning comes from inner motivation: the children follow their own impulses - they learn, play, read, build, calculate, explore, make music according to their individual rhythms. Instead of assessments and censors, there is careful accompaniment and lively feedback culture. Learning comes from inner motivation: the children follow their own impulses - they learn, play, read, build, calculate, explore, make music according to their individual rhythms.

The learning culture is based on the following principles:

• Holistic education ("learning with the head, the heart and the hand")
• Free development of the personality within the school community
• The development of a living relationship culture
• Practical democracy, equality, participation
• Connectivity, sustainability, ecological responsibility
• Mutual respect and appreciation
• Integration of the social environment (village life, factories, workshops, workshops, etc.)

In this way, the learning fields are embedded in the lifeworld of the children from which they originated. Thus a reconnection takes place: Important cultural techniques are not considered as abstract tasks, but as exciting learning possibilities in the flow of daily life. Experiences in other democratic schools show that the learners acquire the same competences and a level of knowledge as is done at regular schools, only in their individual temporal rhythms."



"Internal structure

The small village school Lassaner Winkel has a number of characteristics that are characteristic of the democratic schools:

The school meeting
This is a community decision-making forum at the "Kleine Dorfschule", which meets at least once a week. The school meeting consists of the pupils as well as the staff of the school. Here, all members of the school community have the opportunity to discuss current organizational and content concerns, questions, problems and to decide. Regardless of age and function, everyone has a voice.

The formation of responsibilities and working groups
In order to be able to cope with and coordinate the numerous activities of the Little Village School, the task of the school assembly is to form responsibilities. It decides in which areas workplaces and responsible persons are needed. Responsible persons are children or employees, who take responsibility for specific tasks and areas.

Rule-finding as the task of the school community
In order to ensure the protection of all children as well as of the school community as a whole, rules are needed that can be internalized by all parties involved. To act responsibly also means to respect and respect rules and limits that are important for the individual and the school community. The rules are drawn up by children and employees at the school meeting. Through the experience of the common design of rules that arise out of the needs of the individual and the community, their meaning becomes clear to all parties involved.

Violence-free common conflict
solution At the Kleine Dorfschule, we consider conflicts as a creative learning field, which all parties concerned turn to constructively. Thus, disputes can be conducted without violence, and there is the possibility of turning to a clarification council. As a matter of principle, all children and employees can always seek protection from the Council. It consists of regularly changing members, whereby the different perspectives of a conflict can be directly experienced and the sense of justice can be strengthened.

Participation, Participation
At the center of the Small Village School - as at every democratic school - is the principle of participation and participation. From the very beginning, children and young people have been learning how to shape living democracy. Codetermination is understood here neither as an instrument of the enforcement of the power of the most talkative nor as a partial co-decision-making possibility, but as a principle full of participation and as an instrument of joint responsibility and equal decision making."
schools  germany  via:cervus  democracy  democratic  democraticschool  freeschools  education  unschooling  deschooling  sfsh  community  participatory  howwelearn  trust  children  learning  responsibility  participation  holistiic  freedom  mutualesepect  connectivity  sustainability  experientialeducation  experieniallearning  lcproject  openstudioproject 
august 2017 by robertogreco
ORBITAL OPERATIONS: Weird Shit International - OO 14 May 17
"More recently, I learned of Black Mountain College, from one of Iain Sinclair's better latter-day books, AMERICAN SMOKE (UK) (US).  Black Mountain College interests me because it seems mostly metaphorical: it's the idea of a strange cross-contamination zone of a college. Even the name! More interesting to me than, say, the idea of a Hartlib Circle [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartlib_Circle ]
or Invisible College -- even though I'm a member of one or two of those, and run a private newsletter speaking to, in the immortal words of Charlie Stross, "the people, corporates, collectives, and bots I currently favor."  I like the invisible-college networks - information gets moved around, work gets done, contacts are maintained. But they are, by definition, not open. And all things good should (eventually) flow into the boulevard.

That's what this newsletter is, for me."

My friend Kyoko Kitamura sent me this recent quote from musician/composer Anthony Braxton:
"Each of you need to write about your music. "What are you doing?" "What do you think you are doing?" If you don't write about it, whatever you think you are doing, you might forget it. Maybe you need to sit down and ask the question "What am I doing?" and write it out...Me, I'm always taking notes on my system...Each of you, in my opinion, would do a very good thing by sitting down and asking yourself "What the f- am I doing? I say I like music, I'm not even sure if I like music, but maybe I do like music. What am I doing? Where am I going with it? Is it just about a gig?"...Each of us has to take that responsibility. That's a RESPONSIBILITY. If you're going to be broke and crazy, at least do your best. And part of doing your best is defining things in a way where it's possible to EVOLVE. If there's no clarity, if everything is murky, then you might not be using all of your forces in the best possible way depending on what you are looking at and depending on what you want for yourself...I would say, "Hey, don't be such a nice a person." You need to get angry about something... You need to remember that we don't live in heaven. THIS IS NOT HEAVEN. THIS IS COMPOSITE REALITY. It's much better than the concept of heaven. With composite reality, everything is happening. This is why you have to navigate through form. Part of navigation is including yourself and your life..."

The Weird Shit International. Black Mountain College. Everything is happening. Navigating from the Thames Delta."
warrenellis  blackmountaincollege  2017  iainsinclair  networks  invisiblecollege  hartlibcircle  newsletters  bmc  charliestross  collectives  howwelearn  howwmake  anthonybraxton  kyokokitamura  compositereality  responsibility 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Cyborgology: What is The History of The Quantified Self a History of?
[from Part 1: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/04/13/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-part-1/]

"In the past few months, I’ve posted about two works of long-form scholarship on the Quantified Self: Debora Lupton’s The Quantified Self and Gina Neff and Dawn Nufus’s Self-Tracking. Neff recently edited a volume of essays on QS (Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life, MIT 2016), but I’d like to take a not-so-brief break from reviewing books to address an issue that has been on my mind recently. Most texts that I read about the Quantified Self (be they traditional scholarship or more informal) refer to a meeting in 2007 at the house of Kevin Kelly for the official start to the QS movement. And while, yes, the name “Quantified Self” was coined by Kelly and his colleague Gary Wolf (the former founded Wired, the latter was an editor for the magazine), the practice of self-tracking obviously goes back much further than 10 years. Still, most historical references to the practice often point to Sanctorius of Padua, who, per an oft-cited study by consultant Melanie Swan, “studied energy expenditure in living systems by tracking his weight versus food intake and elimination for 30 years in the 16th century.” Neff and Nufus cite Benjamin Franklin’s practice of keeping a daily record of his time use. These anecdotal histories, however, don’t give us much in terms of understanding what a history of the Quantified Self is actually a history of.

Briefly, what I would like to prove over the course of a few posts is that at the heart of QS are statistics, anthropometrics, and psychometrics. I recognize that it’s not terribly controversial to suggest that these three technologies (I hesitate to call them “fields” here because of how widely they can be applied), all developed over the course of the nineteenth century, are critical to the way that QS works. Good thing, then, that there is a second half to my argument: as I touched upon briefly in my [shameless plug alert] Theorizing the Web talk last week, these three technologies were also critical to the proliferation of eugenics, that pseudoscientific attempt at strengthening the whole of the human race by breeding out or killing off those deemed deficient.

I don’t think it’s very hard to see an analogous relationship between QS and eugenics: both movements are predicated on anthropometrics and psychometrics, comparisons against norms, and the categorization and classification of human bodies as a result of the use of statistical technologies. But an analogy only gets us so far in seeking to build a history. I don’t think we can just jump from Francis Galton’s ramblings at the turn of one century to Kevin Kelly’s at the turn of the next. So what I’m going to attempt here is a sort of Foucauldian genealogy—from what was left of eugenics after its [rightful, though perhaps not as complete as one would hope] marginalization in the 1940s through to QS and the multi-billion dollar industry the movement has inspired.

I hope you’ll stick around for the full ride—it’s going to take a a number of weeks. For now, let’s start with a brief introduction to that bastion of Western exceptionalism: the eugenics movement."

[from Part 2: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/04/20/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-part-2/

"Here we begin to see an awkward situation in our quest to draw a line from Galton and hard-line eugenics (we will differentiate between hardline and “reform” eugenics further on) to the quantified self movement. Behaviorism sits diametrically opposed to eugenics for a number of reasons. Firstly, it does not distinguish between human and animal beings—certainly a tenet to which Galton and his like would object, understanding that humans are the superior species and a hierarchy of greatness existing within that species as well. Secondly, behaviorism accepts that outside, environmental influences will change the psychology of a subject. In 1971, Skinner argued that “An experimental analysis shifts the determination of behavior from autonomous man to the environment—an environment responsible both for the evolution of the species and for the repertoire acquired by each member” (214). This stands in direct conflict with the eugenical ideal that physical and psychological makeup is determined by heredity. Indeed, the eugenicist Robert Yerkes, otherwise close with Watson, wholly rejected the behaviorist’s views (Hergenhahn 400). Tracing the quantified-self’s behaviorist and self-experimental roots, then, leaves us without a very strong connection to the ideologies driving eugenics. Still, using Pearson as a hint, there may be a better path to follow."]

[from Part 3: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/04/27/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-part-3/

"The history of Galton and eugenics, then, can be traced into the history of personality tests. Once again, we come up against an awkward transition—this time from personality tests into the Quantified Self. Certainly, shades of Galtonian psychometrics show themselves to be present in QS technologies—that is, the treatment of statistical datasets for the purpose of correlation and prediction. Galton’s word association tests strongly influenced the MBTI, a test that, much like Quantified Self projects, seeks to help a subject make the right decisions in their life, though not through traditional Galtonian statistical tools. The MMPI and 16PFQ are for psychological evaluative purposes. And while some work has been done to suggest that “mental wellness” can be improved through self-tracking (see Kelley et al., Wolf 2009), much of the self-tracking ethos is based on factors that can be adjusted in order to see a correlative change in the subject (Wolf 2009). That is, by tracking my happiness on a daily basis against the amount of coffee I drink or the places I go, then I am acknowledging an environmental approach and declaring that my current psychological state is not set by my genealogy. A gap, then, between Galtonian personality tests and QS."]

[from Part 4 (Finale): https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/05/08/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-the-finale/

"What is the history of the quantified self a history of? One could point to technological advances in circuitry miniaturization or in big data collection and processing. The proprietary and patented nature of the majority of QS devices precludes certain types of inquiry into their invention and proliferation. But it is not difficult to identify one of QS’s most critical underlying tenets: self-tracking for the purpose of self-improvement through the identification of behavioral and environmental variables critical to one’s physical and psychological makeup. Recognizing the importance of this premise to QS allows us to trace back through the scientific fields which have strongly influenced the QS movement—from both a consumer and product standpoint. Doing so, however, reveals a seeming incommensurability between an otherwise analogous pair: QS and eugenics. A eugenical emphasis on heredity sits in direct conflict to a self-tracker’s belief that a focus on environmental factors could change one’s life for the better—even while both are predicated on statistical analysis, both purport to improve the human stock, and both, as argued by Dale Carrico, make assertions towards what is a “normal” human.

A more complicated relationship between the two is revealed upon attempting this genealogical connection. What I have outlined over the past few weeks is, I hope, only the beginning of such a project. I chose not to produce a rhetorical analysis of the visual and textual language of efficiency in both movements—from that utilized by the likes of Frederick Taylor and his eugenicist protégés, the Gilbreths, to what Christina Cogdell calls “Biological Efficiency and Streamline Design” in her work, Eugenic Design, and into a deep trove of rhetoric around efficiency utilized by market-available QS device marketers. Nor did I aim to produce an exhaustive bibliographic lineage. I did, however, seek to use the strong sense of self-experimentation in QS to work backwards towards the presence of behaviorism in early-twentieth century eugenical rhetoric. Then, moving in the opposite direction, I tracked the proliferation of Galtonian psychometrics into mid-century personality test development and eventually into the risk-management goals of the neoliberal surveillance state. I hope that what I have argued will lead to a more in-depth investigation into each step along this homological relationship. In the grander scheme, I see this project as part of a critical interrogation into the Quantified Self. By throwing into sharp relief the linkages between eugenics and QS, I seek to encourage resistance to fetishizing the latter’s technologies and their output, as well as the potential for meaningful change via those technologies."]
gabischaffzin  quantifiedself  2017  kevinkelly  garywolf  eugenics  anthropometrics  psychometrics  measurement  statistics  heredity  francisgalton  charlesdarwin  adolphequetelet  normal  psychology  pernilsroll-hansen  michelfoucault  majianadesan  self-regulation  marginalization  anthropology  technology  data  personality  henryfairfieldosborn  moralbehaviorism  behaviorism  williamepstein  mitchelldean  neoliberalism  containment  risk  riskassessment  freedom  rehabilitation  responsibility  obligation  dalecarrico  fredericktaylor  christinacogdell  surveillance  nikolasrose  myers-briggs  mbti  katherinebriggs  isabelbriggsmeyers  bellcurve  emilkraepelin  charlesspearman  rymondcattell  personalitytests  allenneuringer  microsoft  self-experimentation  gamification  deborahlupton  johnwatson  robertyerkes  ginaneff  dawnnufus  self-tracking  melanieswan  benjaminfranklin  recordkeeping  foucault 
may 2017 by robertogreco
When Power Makes Leaders More Sensitive - The New York Times
"I’ve long heard the old warning about leaders who rise too high. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton once said.

But recent psychological research upends this adage. Sure, power in the wrong hands can be dangerous. It turns out, however, that power does not always lead to bad behavior — and can actually make leaders more sensitive to the needs of others. Several studies suggest ways to encourage positive power.

Some psychologists separate power, defined as the control of valued resources, into two concepts: power perceived as freedom, and power perceived as responsibility. How you view power can affect how you use it.

When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it to serve yourself, selfishly. But when you see it as responsibility, you tend to be selfless.

Who you are — your character and cultural background — affects your approach to power. But contextual clues about how power should be used can be surprisingly effective in altering leadership behavior.

For example, according to one survey, published last year in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people generally had the notion that those with power should act more ethically than those without but in truth act less ethically. And when people reflected on how they felt power was actually used — that is, unethically — obtaining a sense of power themselves made them more likely to cheat in a dice game. But when they thought about how they felt it should be used — ethically — power made them less likely to cheat.

A separate study found that awareness of the good behavior of others can improve the behavior of those with power. In that research, published in The Leadership Quarterly, students assigned to lead a group behaved less selfishly when told that other leaders had been unselfish.

A heightened sense of accountability can also keep power in check. A study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that making people feel powerful increased their clarity and compassion when they had to lay off an employee in a hypothetical situation, but only when they knew they had to explain their layoff approach to others.

Merely shifting leaders’ focus to the experiences of others can lead them to use power in more thoughtful ways. In a forthcoming study in the British Journal of Social Psychology, researchers had undergraduates write about something that had happened to them or to someone they knew. Then the students evaluated their peers in a product-naming task, and some of them were given the power to help determine a winner. The researchers found that people with that power were more concerned about the peers they were evaluating than were those without it — but only if they’d first been asked to recount another’s experience.

“Any policy, any values, any organizational climate that draws attention to those lower in power should do the trick,” said Annika Scholl, a psychologist at the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, in Tübingen, Germany, and the lead author of the study.

When people don’t personally identify with a group, Professor Scholl said, giving them more power tends to reduce their feelings of responsibility for people in the group. But when they start with the sense that they belong to the group, greater power tends to make them more concerned about their effects on others. If you can find common ground, she said, “you think in terms of ‘we’ rather than ‘I.’”

Simply leaving a cloistered office and spending time with subordinates can shift a leader’s attitude. Melissa Williams, a psychologist at Goizueta Business School at Emory University, said physical proximity in shared office space often makes leaders more sensitive.

Companies in the marketplace have been using such insights for years. For example, TDIndustries, a privately held construction firm in Dallas, has embraced a principle known as “servant leadership” since 1970. What sounds like an oxymoron neatly describes power seen as responsibility. TDIndustries uses a number of techniques to ensure that its leaders work not to exploit workers but to enable them to flourish.

Every year, for example, employees evaluate their supervisors. They are asked whether their manager treats them fairly, offers appropriate training and includes them in their team. The feedback affects supervisors’ salaries and promotions.

“You’ve got to walk the talk here,” said Maureen Underwood, the executive vice president for human resources at the company. “And if you get lousy scores, then you get some extra adult supervision.”

There is another important factor in using power responsibly: When leaders feel that their power is being threatened, they tend to behave more selfishly, Professor Williams wrote in an article in the Journal of Management. She cited studies showing that such behavior increases when leaders feel insecure in their positions, doubt their own competence or sense that they are not respected. Precarious authority can lead people to lash out in order to maintain control. She notes the importance of selecting people who are a good fit for their tasks, whatever their positions, and then treating them with fairness and gratitude, ameliorating any resentment or self-doubt.

TDIndustries, which has appeared consistently on Fortune’s annual list of the top 100 workplaces in the United States, sees sensitive leadership as a matter of policy. “We say our supervisors have to do two things,” Ms. Underwood said. “You have to be servant leaders, and you have to make money. And they’re not mutually exclusive.”"
power  corruption  leadership  administration  management  2017  matthewhutson  psychology  freedom  responsibility  behavior  policy  hierarchy 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The West Coast Design Program with a Messy Vitality | Eye on Design
[via: http://jarrettfuller.blog/post/161033290767/margaret-andersen-writing-for-the-aiga-eye-on ]

"“In the ’70s I wouldn’t have been allowed in the program,” says [Jeffrey] Keedy. “By the mid-’80s when I came to CalArts, most design programs were still strongly entrenched in Bauhaus modernist dogma that still holds sway today. The disruption that the transition to digital technologies caused in the profession created an opening for new ways of thinking about design, and CalArts has always been receptive to new ways of thinking. Given its history, it makes sense that it would become a stronghold for postmodernism in design.”

Despite changes to the program over time, Keedy notes that one fundamental idea that has remained constant since the beginning of CalArts is that “the school is founded on the premise of artists teaching artists, which in the graphic design school means that from day one, students ARE graphic designers. There is no undergraduate foundation year like at many other schools; it’s full immersion in the métier. The studio culture is an important component of this model; classes move together as a body through the program, as a studio. And then there is the intense and twice-weekly critique…“"

Those twice-weekly critiques, coupled with electives and extracurricular projects or initiatives, mean the design students rarely leave their studios. Since they are given 24-hour access to all facilities, each designer’s cubicle becomes a home away from home. Wacom tablets share desk space with rice cookers and coffee makers; books on design theory and typography compete for shelf space with cans of LaCroix and personal bric-a-brac.

A variety of well-behaved studio dogs, and even a cat named Phoebe, wait patiently beneath several desks while their owners tile posters or trim spreads late into the night. If students are ever stuck on a project, they’re just a cubicle away from their classmates for an informal critique, or they can visit Ed Fella who keeps open office hours in one of the MFA studios. Though he’s retired from teaching, Fella remains a creative resource and mentor to the students, and is always up for a friendly chat.

Dameon Waggoner, a current MFA1, loves the fact that students can have these informal conversations about design and process with living legends like Fella. “I went to university for my undergrad,” Waggoner says, “and it was much more of a hierarchic goal system there with professors vs. students. Here I feel like I can really access people, talk to them, and really get down to what matters.”

Anther Kiley says the small size of the program “allows for close faculty mentorship of students. All the GD faculty know all of the students, and there’s a sense of real care and responsibility for each student’s trajectory.”

Classes aren’t structured around a traditional grading system either. Students instead receive evaluations categorized by High Pass, Pass, or the dreaded Low Pass. “There’s an academic rigor here that is maybe unparalleled at other design schools,” says Waggoner. “For example, everyone’s required to take Design Theory, and I think that’s such an important part of figuring out who you are as a designer. What you’re doing, what you’re making, why you’re making it, what is interesting to you, knowing what’s come before, knowing and trying to understand how you can contribute to the future of the field. I love that this place is so academically rigorous but still has a freedom to really explore creatively, visually, and conceptually.”

For all the time spent working in the classroom or studio, there are still moments in the day for downtime, where students can take a nap under a tree or join in instructor Gail Swanlund’s “un-studio” class that, in addition to image-making projects, takes hiking field trips to the many nature trails just a few miles from campus. “There’s something unique but utterly day-to-day of everyone in proximity,” she says of life at CalArts. “The line between indoors and outdoors is slight, and with one step outside you realize the studios are surrounded by literally purple mountains, glittery sunshine, clacking crows, the expanses of over-watered, sodden lawns, and at night coyotes yipping nearby.”

Faculty member Colin Frazer says they are “dead set on building unstructured time into the curriculum. The notion that one should have time to ‘waste’—to ponder, to converse, to read, to let the mind wander—is truly becoming radical in a world defined by productivity, wealth creation, and efficiency. CalArts is not a place to come if you want someone to tell you what to do.”

Because the program is so small, Anther Kiley and Co-Director Scott Zukowski are able to keep the structure of the curriculum flexible, as they adapt to a changing landscape in higher education. “The challenge that all graphic design programs have been facing,” Kiley says, “is that the tools and media of design are expanding and changing so rapidly. The boundaries of the field are so amorphous and contested, that it’s less and less possible to cover all the bases. In addition, at the MFA level, the conventional two- or three-year residency model of graduate education (with its accompanying price tag) is being challenged by various alternative models.”

This might include “taking our grad students on the road for a semester of roaming residencies, launching an off-site lecture series, facilitating students in initiating experimental studio practices in lieu of a traditional thesis—all of this is very possible here! As a program we’ve always positioned ourselves in provocative tension with mainstream design pedagogy; I don’t think there’s ever been a sense of obligation to represent the field of graphic design in some sort of comprehensive way. Our focus has always been on rigorously informed formal experimentation, and I see that as continuing to be our hallmark.”

So where do CalArts graduates end up landing jobs once they enter the profession? “Our alumni are geographically and professionally all over the map,” Keedy says. “The undergraduates usually work in the commercial or corporate world, and the grads typically go into cultural or institutional practices. But they are just as likely to pursue an entrepreneurial venture or a combination of different roles over a varied career trajectory.” While there may not be a typical post-CalArts career path, Keedy says that “foremost among the skills we teach is the ability to teach yourself to evolve.”

Keedy recalls his former colleague Louis Danziger’s description of the spirited ethos of the school and student body. “We will always remember Lou for saying, ‘at CalArts, the monkeys run the zoo.’”"
calarts  2017  margaretanderson  jeffreykeedy  graphicdesign  louisesandhaus  kathycarbone  colinfrazer  antherkiley  scottzukowski  curriculum  artseducation  lcproject  openstudioproject  teaching  learning  howwelearn  grades  grading  practice  responsibility  care  integrated  unstructured  tcsnmy 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A Yale history professor's 20-point guide to defending democracy under a Trump presidency — Quartz
"Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today:

1. Do not obey in advance.

Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution.

Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics.

When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.

Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.

When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language.

Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps The Power of the Powerless by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out.

Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth.

To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate.

Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics.

Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk.

This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.

Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state.

The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.

Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life.

Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries.

Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.

When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed.

If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can.

If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot.

The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it."
democracy  history  politics  psychology  resistance  2016  donaldtrump  timothysnyder  obedience  language  fascism  nazism  institutions  ethics  truth  responsibility  charity 
february 2017 by robertogreco
New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017 by Will Wiles
"With 2016 coming to an end, Will Wiles doses out his New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017, which include resisting the hygge trend and finally taking responsibility for the climate.

I suggested New Year's Resolutions for architecture and design at the end of 2015, and the response was great. So, one year later, I've made some more:

1. An end to TED's glib solutionism

Consider president-elect Donald Trump's proposed wall to keep out Mexico. It was the most consistent pledge he made during his precedent-smashing election campaign. Trump admitted that it was his secret rhetorical weapon for when he sensed a crowd was getting bored: "I just say, 'We will build the wall!' and they go nuts," he told the New York Times.

The wall is a strong pledge to make: it's a simple, easy-to-understand design solution to a perceived problem. It's also crass, offensive and impractical in the extreme, but that didn't matter to the target audience. They got it. They went nuts.

There was a lot of this in 2016, the year zealots of various stripes promised to sweep away the knotted, stifling problems of globalisation with no more than a wave of the tiny hand. Build the wall, make America great again, drain the swamp, vote leave, take back control.

Architecture and design, which is well populated with experts and systems-thinkers, might regard itself as being apart from all this. But, in fact, one of the throbbing nerve centres of the post-expert, hand-wave era lies closer than you might think: TED, the wildly popular talks series.

TED, of course, presents itself as a hub of expertise and intelligence. And in criticising TED, I don't mean to denigrate the vast majority of its speakers, or to imply that TED equals Trump, or anything so dim. It's the format that's the problem, and the kind of intellectual legerdemain it encourages.

TED is the golden cap of the yaddering pyramid of hackism: that every wicked problem has a nifty workaround or backdoor, that it's all got a glib little design solution that'll bypass all the waffle and the smoke, and make everything OK. Ted Everyman, outsider genius, has cracked the problem that has the eggheads stumped, and it was so simple.

Trump's wall is very TED. So is his insistence that generic "smartness" on his part means that he can do without the expert advice previous presidents have relied upon, such as intelligence briefings.

The trouble for democratic opposition to these forces is that complexity and intractability make for very unenticing messages. Even more problematic is the fact that "it's complicated, let us experts handle it" is the way the globalist managerial class has ushered in many of the problems that Trump and others now claim to have solved.

Where architecture and design might be able to make a difference in the coming months is by shunning hackism and solutionism, and demonstrating instead its remarkable ability to research, explore and expose.

2. Take personal responsibility for the climate

With Trump's administration stuffed full of climate-change deniers and oil men, concerted international state action to address the warming planet looks unlikely. Worse, existing measures, such as the Paris Agreement that came into force this year, might be in peril. American leadership isn't essential for progress on the climate, but its active obstruction and wrecking of vital research could be a disastrous setback when renewed effort is needed.

The abdication of governments from climate action serves, at least, as a reminder that they can't be relied upon to enforce change. The long-awaited economic breakthrough of renewable energy has at last arrived: solar is now the word's cheapest form of energy. Simple economic forces might now drive down carbon emissions while national governments are preoccupied. Texas, a place strongly associated with oil and gas, now gets as much as half of its electricity from wind, and is anticipating a solar boom. China may also be a source of surprises.

These are changes that may yet halt the incipient climate catastrophe: not grandiose treaty-signing, but aggregated individual decisions. Be part of it in what you make and build.

3. Health warnings for the whimsy

Another Trump-related one, sadly. Trump's victory has also sparked a debate over so-called "fake news": the growing welter of misinformation, disinformation and scurrilous falsehood online. This risks crowding out more reliable sources of information and overwhelming civil society's already overtaxed critical faculties.

Again, you might wonder what that has to do with architecture and design. But of course architecture and design has a long history of generating its own "fake news" in the form of the more fanciful speculative proposals and vapourware.

There's nothing wrong with speculation, paper architecture and design fictions, of course – they're all useful endeavours and we'd be hugely poorer without them. It suits architecture and design to propose their own forms, as well as to simply deliver the proposals of others.

Even the grubbier end of that kind of activity isn't inherently bad. Here I'm talking about the completely senseless floating lilypad cities or vertical farms that get pitched out as blog-fodder for no practical purpose than showing off a designer's rendering skills and get their name about. They probably belong on Deviantart rather than Dezeen, but no one's harmed.

Really what's needed is appropriate labelling: making it clear what is speculation for the purposes of debate, what's a real proposal that's seeking backers, what might actually have a chance of actually appearing, and what's just a bit of hey-look-at-me fun. That's where the ethics get murky. Remember that Chinese straddling bus concept that turned out to be little more than a scam? Or that kooky London Garden Bridge concept that also turned out to be little more than a scam. Whimsy can be costly, people!

But seriously, knock it off with the floating cities and the vertical farms.

4. Leave "hygge" in 2016

Financial Times critic Edwin Heathcote has already done a sterling job of debunking hygge, the ubiquitous pseudo-Scandinavian lifestyle craze. Like many ubiquitous lifestyle crazes, it's a subtle blend of total common sense (fires are nice in winter) and complete balderdash.

Anyway, it's upon us now and resistance is futile – the tie-in books have already been given as presents, and they already sit amid the Christmas wreckage of many, many living rooms. And I'm sure they look harmless enough. So it's time for a word of warning.

The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins has already shown how hygge was confected within the publishing industry. I think the part played by architecture and design has been understated, though. For a start, the sector has done much to import interest in Scandinavian lifestyles by importing lots of Scandinavian people. No one in their right mind would think this was anything other than a tremendous boon, and I can only apologise to my Scandinavian friends and colleagues for the way Britain is presently making a travesty of their culture. That, and Brexit.

Let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist
It truly has been a terrible year. Architecture – specifically, architecture publishing – was also making something of a fetish of things hygge before hygge was a thing, with its recent boom in cabins and log piles. I attribute this more to an interest in consumer survivalism, rather than Danish culture, but nevertheless "cabin porn" was very much the gateway.

Anyway, here's the warning. Already, thoughts will be turning to next year's endeavours, and fun ways to present them to the public. The eye will blearily cast around the living room for ideas. Thanks to architects from Jan Gehl to Bjarke Ingels, the Danish way of making cities is already rightly praised and emulated. But let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist. No hygge placemaking. I beg of you. Just don't."

[via "These resolutions from @WillWiles are all worth considering, especially the one that equates Speculative Design and Fake News."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/815242847095951361

"There's a subtle but not so subtle difference between projects that are intended as critique, click bait, or outright hoax.

The hoax, as @bruces says, is in the territory of the Black Arts, and almost always maliciously and dangerously deployed.

I say this as someone whose proposal to launch manatees into space was reposted w/ straight seriousness by the Daily Mail & their commenters

The project, intended as critique (&, to be honest, clickbait!) was weaponized by DM, in the genre of "goofy eggheads wasting tax dollars""
ted  tedtalks  solutionism  climatechange  2016  2017  willwiles  architecture  design  hackism  government  governance  policy  economics  energy  renewableenergy  fakenews  news  media  specualtivedesign  fredscharmen  brucesterling  hoaxes  clickbait  critique  hygge  responsibility  speculation  whimsy  edwinheathcote  charlottehiggins  scandinavia  fetishes  publishing  cabinporn  bjarkeingels  jangehl  hyggeurbanism  urban  urbanism  placemaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
on material entanglements: an interview with morehshin allahyari : Open Space
"taking a closer look into her website, i found the 3d additivist manifesto that she wrote in collaboration with daniel rourke. the manifesto combines a mordant sense of humor with a calculated resignation to our dependence on fossil fuel materials, in this case the plastic used in 3d printing. the text immediately struck a chord with me: “its potential belies the complications of its history: that matter is the sum and prolongation of our ancestry; that creativity is brutal, sensual, rude, coarse, and cruel. we declare that the world’s splendour has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of crap, kipple and detritus. a planet crystallized with great plastic tendrils like serpents with pixelated breath.” this fatalism towards the material is posited as a way to attempt subversion towards the possibility of liberation. embracing it means that you take the glitches that will inevitably happen and that may eventually reveal within them an opportunity to corrupt the material towards a new reality.

i noticed in allahyari’s practice the willingness to seize on existing flaws in the forms and systems she chooses, pushing them towards alternative resolutions. she creates surrogate existences for her sources and materials, questioning their original and stagnant origins. humor and failure are also deployed as strategies and enablers.

we recently met to talk in more depth about her background, practice, and ongoing projects."



"Allahyari: Yeah. I have one of those personalities that is always being a rebel and not listening. I always felt this not belonging thing in a very different way. I wanted to get out. I didn’t want to live there. Of course, for also so many other reasons, because I just didn’t feel I would have the future I wanted in Iran. As a woman, it’s another whole process.

The amount of misogynistic and cultural taboos and shit around you is another thing that won’t make it easy for you to work. There are more Iranian women in universities than men. And women are very educated and they all have jobs. But at the same time, on a daily basis, you just constantly deal with sexism and sexual harassment and street harassment, and the glass ceiling is much more real. You can only move to a certain level of position. So yeah, I wanted to leave because I didn’t feel like I could belong in that society and it was suffering, living there.

The not belonging is a very different thing in the US, because then you end up constantly explaining yourself and explaining your life to people, and your daily life experience. And people don’t do that. People just do this out of public curiosity just on a daily basis, asking about your life and why did you move and how did you move and who are your parents, etc. All of these daily experiences makes this othering more real in your life. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. As long as I really have an accent and people ask where you’re from and I say, “Iran,” that will always be the case, right? You become this other because people are curious. People want to have associations about that.

I also would say that if anything, if I was going to have to go and choose countries to move to, the United States would still be my most preferable place to move to, because I think xenophobia in Europe is much more serious, and immigration…

I know a lot of friends from Iran who’ve moved to Sweden or France or, I don’t know, and you can never become a part of it. Living in the US, 98% of my friends are Americans. They’re my friends and I love them and they love me and we hang out all the time. They never make me feel like you’re just this other: “oh, you can’t be part of our community because you’re not American.”

Being American doesn’t [come with] the same resignation as being French or being Dutch, being British. All these have a really big thing, in terms of nationality, to them. Being American, unless you’re from Texas or whatever, it doesn’t really have that kind of thing, because of the history and background and…"



"Allahyari: Exactly. After I finished the recreation of these 12 artifacts that were destroyed by ISIS, I released a folder on Rhizome as part of their Download series, which contains all the information that I had gathered during the research process about the artifacts, their history, the process of research, images, and the obj/sti files.

This idea of releasing this information online became really important for me because in the last one year, with all this destruction, as ISIS has been going to Iraq and Syria and destroying these artifacts, there has been a lot of response from a lot of tech companies and Western archaeological institutions, [wanting] to recreate these artifacts. This has become a highly fashionable thing. When I started to work on my Material Speculation project I was interested in using 3-D printing as this poetic, metaphoric tool, but also a practical activism tool to recreate these artifacts. I’ve been approaching it, of course, as an artist, as this conceptual work. My project got a lot of attention and press. I would get all these emails from different — especially based in San Francisco — tech companies and different places, asking, “Do you want to do a life size version of this project? Or do you want to collaborate with us? We have a digital library.”

One thing that I started to think about a lot — and this is me now looking back and rebuilding and interrupting myself — was the fact that — there are two things. One is digital colonialism. Two was the relationship between these tech people, usually white men, this Silicon Valley ideology of recreating these artifacts. So if ISIS claims these objects, these histories, by destroying them, the Silicon Valley ideology is that the Western tech companies reclaim it by recreating it. So they become…

faustini: they become branded.

Allahyari: That’s the digital colonialism part I am interested in. Because some of these tech companies go to the Middle East and they basically 3-D scan these artifacts, and then they bring it back and they won’t release the files online or give public access to these 3D models. So there’s a question of access, ownership, copyright, profit. I know different websites that you have — for example the model is online, but you can’t really download it. If you want to have access to it, you have to pay $2,000 to download it. Basically, with these new tools, we have entered this digital colonialism era, which didn’t exist before in the same way. So these technologies have brought in these whole new possibilities and problems.

I’ve been talking a lot about this digital colonialism, and what does it mean that we are all celebrating this? “Ooh, look, they are reconstructing these things,” but not asking questions about what happens to these files, what happens to data, ignoring the whole history of colonialism. These Western companies and archeologists going there, 3-D scanning these things, bringing them back.

Did you see the new Palmyra thing that was launched in London? Palmyra was this arc that was destroyed by ISIS. They rebuilt it in collaboration with the UK-based Institute for Digital Archeology, UNESCO, and Dubai’s Museum of the Future Foundation. They recreated this in London and launched it a few months ago. People are taking selfies in front of these things, and everyone is so excited. But what does it mean? What does this act mean, for these people doing this project and then putting it out there?

Another thing that happened when my project was getting all this attention, there were a lot of titles like this: “Artist battles ISIS with a 3-D printer.” “This artist fights ISIS in virtual reality.” Obviously, that’s the problem with doing political-related art. My project definitely got hijacked by media. There has been a lot of amazing reviews by the art world about it, in-depth and really beautifully written. But with the press, it was all that. This kind of framing; and then this which is like creating these things and putting it in London or New York, it creates this thing about it’s us and them. It’s about “look at us.” These civilized Western, white people, bringing these things. We’re the heroes. We’re bringing these things and rebuilding them, against these savages and terrorists and Muslims. It had — a lot of these articles and the way they were framing it, definitely had a xenophobic narrative to it.

I have been trying to keep my project away from it and just talk about my relationship to this piece, because it comes from a lot of personal, poetic — a conceptual relationship to the 3-D printer, to printing, to information, to access… the aesthetics of these specific things.

faustini: how would you summarize your personal position in this as different from the ones espoused by these private parties?

Allahyari: Because it’s about context. It’s about why and how and what way we do things, right? What does it mean? Again, ignoring — putting these things in London and then celebrating it is so fucking dark to me, because it becomes about that position. The Western, civilized people saving the cultural heritage, which suddenly also, like the Middle East cultural heritage is the world’s shared cultural heritage, which I can go on and on about, because that’s bullshit.

If you read these articles and why these archaeologists are interested in recreating these things, the expression that they use is the universal shared cultural heritage. They refer to these things as a cultural heritage that is shared between humans and that is universal, and this ownership over it. That’s why they want to save it, because it’s our shared cultural heritage. Which is like, no! Can we talk about why it’s shared? How is it shared cultural heritage, and when did it become the shared cultural heritage? It’s this universality, which to me, is very dangerous, because then it justifies… [more]
morehshinallahyari  marcellafaustini  2016  interviews  art  siliconvalley  isis  responsibility  us  europe  xenophobia  belonging  activism  additivism  immigration  technology  future  colonialism  culture 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About - The New Yorker
"America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now is the time to remember that, in a wave of dark populism sweeping the West, there are alternative forms. Bernie Sanders’s message did not scapegoat the vulnerable. Obama rode a populist wave before his first election, one marked by a remarkable inclusiveness. Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this."
chimamandangoziadichie  culture  politics  us  race  racism  donaldtrump  class  classism  responsibility  resistance  freedom  populism  climatechange  identitypolitics  berniesanders  media  workingclass  economics  listening  sexism  gender  misogyny  rwanda  mittromney  words  howwespeak  communication  consent  2016  elections  hillaryclinton 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Nature of the “In-Between” in D.W. Winnicott’s Concept of Transitional Space and in Martin Buber’s das Zwischenmenschliche [.pdf]
"Despite its ability to provide refuge and renewal, however, Winnicott and Buber insist that this “in-between” world can never displace or supplant the inner and outer worlds. Whether in childhood or adulthood, we cannot stay in this realm of creative possibility and transformation forever, even if it is the most real and authentic part of our existence. Buber and Winnicott therefore refuse to become neo-romantic worshippers of feeling and subjectivity. They avoid such dualism, and discourage, in Buber’s terms, the rejection of the world of I-It, suggesting instead the interpenetration of the I-It realm by that of I-Thou.

Like the child, we must return always to the “exalted melancholy of our fate” in the I-It world: Yet Buber insists that even in this mundane sphere, we can claim a sense of meaning, for “these Thou’s which have been changed into It’s have it in their nature to change back again into presentness.”12

Winnicott’s transitional object, an illusion in itself, remains paradoxically for all persons “the basis of initiation of experience.” This intermediate area of experience, in which the transitional object shares, is retained throughout life, “in the intense experiencing that belongs to the arts and to religion and to imaginative living, and to creative scientific work.”13 Winnicott’s “in-between” world does not possess the vacillating It/Thou qualities to the same degree that Buber’s does, and remains a more stable and enduring concept, available to draw upon for the rest of our lives."



"Buber cites the category of “the essential We” to correspond on the community level to the “essential Thou on the level of self being.” Similarly, he posits a primitive We on the group level, analogous to that of the primitive Thou on the individual level: “the primitive We precedes true individuality and independence, whereas the essential We only comes about when independent people have come together in essential relation and directness.”27 Through this essential We, humans can transcend the impersonality of mass culture. As Buber writes in Between Man and Man, one “is truly saved from the ‘one’ not by separation but only by being bound up in genuine communion.”28

Buber calls for restructuring of society “into a community of communities,” which would strive to transform mass society into the essential We of Gemeinschaft. True community, however, can only occur if people take personal responsibility, and can sacrifice for the group. Buber’s social philosophy is far from utopian, realizing how difficult it is in an age of impersonal mass society to redirect human nature towards responsibility for the integrity of the total community. He embraces no one political ideology, but points to varied communities where non-exploitative relations predominate.

Although Winnicott does not speak in similar detail about the dynamics of culture, he does view cultural forms as inherently more enabling and creative. Due to his social location in Great Britain, Winnicott also seems more pragmatic and positive towards both monarchy and large-scale democratic government. In his essay, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Democracy,” Winnicott considers democracy a more mature form of culture, for instance, in its respect of privacy through the secret ballot.29 The main threat to democracy, however, Winnicott writes, is that its people may not be mature enough to maintain and nurture it. In this case, totalitarian systems can threaten a people through their appeal to demonic certainty, stirring in some individuals a desire to persecute others.

Winnicott finds that such a desire to persecute, or wish to be persecuted, results from a failure of successful transitional objects, often as a result of early impingement by others. In adult group life, this developmental deficit can lead one particular group to force its illusions upon another. Illusion, “which in adult life is inherent in art and religion,” notes Winnicott, “becomes the hallmark of madness when an adult puts too powerful a claim on the credulity of others, forcing them to acknowledge a sharing of illusion that is not their own.”30 Winnicott’s insight here may offer some rationale for emergence of National Socialism, which Buber’s social psychology was hard-pressed to comprehend.

Winnicott observes that the healthy person maintains his self-esteem as well as his doubts, and is able to discern the difference between inner and external conflict. “When healthy persons come together they each contribute a whole world, because each brings a whole person,” he writes. They are capable of becoming depressed, rather than automatically joining group manias and seeking domination of others.31

A rich, nurturing sense of culture can be found in Winnicott’s analogy of the holding environment of mother and infant to the wider world, which “provides a refuge or fellow feeling and the fact that we are all human.” Similar echoes of this “holding environment” can be found in Buber’s Gemeinschaft, which affirms fellowship and community while countering coercion and domination.

Illness, writes Buber, represents distortion, both because the individual closes himself off from the world and because society rejects the person, refusing to offer confirmation. It is critical that a healthy culture, therefore, offer treatment that not merely aims to “integrate” or “adjust” an individual to the prevailing society, but that seeks to restore the person’s interrupted dialogical relations.

Finally, both Buber and Winnicott find that healthy communal life requires its members to assume ongoing responsibility for the well being of others in the group. “It is human beings who are likely to destroy the world,” concludes Winnicott. “If so, we can perhaps die . . . knowing that this is not health but fear; it is part of the failure of healthy people and healthy society to carry its ill members.”32 To care for others means that, for both Winnicott and Buber, persons move outside themselves with a newfound sense of courage. Assuming such responsibility for others encourages and restores genuine relations between persons, and in so doing enables the ethical and spiritual regeneration of the wider world. The transitional space, or das Zwischenmenschliche, therefore remains critical for the preservation of a morally accountable world community, where the ability to relate meaningfully to others continues as an ever-present—and perduring—reality.
liminalspaces  laurapraglin  dwwinnicott  martinbuber  psychology  between  betweenness  community  responsibility  coercion  domination  fellowship  liminality 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Prof Carla Rinaldi on 'Reclaiming Childhood' - YouTube
[For a quick taste, go to 52:15 https://youtu.be/dqgvW-IRXKg?t=3135:

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

As computer programmers, our formative intellectual experience is working with deterministic systems that have been designed by other human beings. These can be very complex, but the complexity is not the kind we find in the natural world. It is ultimately always tractable. Find the right abstractions, and the puzzle box opens before you.

The feeling of competence, control and delight in discovering a clever twist that solves a difficult problem is what makes being a computer programmer sometimes enjoyable.

But as anyone who's worked with tech people knows, this intellectual background can also lead to arrogance. People who excel at software design become convinced that they have a unique ability to understand any kind of system at all, from first principles, without prior training, thanks to their superior powers of analysis. Success in the artificially constructed world of software design promotes a dangerous confidence.

Today we are embarked on a great project to make computers a part of everyday life. As Marc Andreessen memorably frames it, "software is eating the world". And those of us writing the software expect to be greeted as liberators.

Our intentions are simple and clear. First we will instrument, then we will analyze, then we will optimize. And you will thank us.

But the real world is a stubborn place. It is complex in ways that resist abstraction and modeling. It notices and reacts to our attempts to affect it. Nor can we hope to examine it objectively from the outside, any more than we can step out of our own skin.

The connected world we're building may resemble a computer system, but really it's just the regular old world from before, with a bunch of microphones and keyboards and flat screens sticking out of it. And it has the same old problems.

Approaching the world as a software problem is a category error that has led us into some terrible habits of mind.

BAD MENTAL HABITS

First, programmers are trained to seek maximal and global solutions. Why solve a specific problem in one place when you can fix the general problem for everybody, and for all time? We don't think of this as hubris, but as a laudable economy of effort. And the startup funding culture of big risk, big reward encourages this grandiose mode of thinking. There is powerful social pressure to avoid incremental change, particularly any change that would require working with people outside tech and treating them as intellectual equals.

Second, treating the world as a software project gives us a rationale for being selfish. The old adage has it that if you are given ten minutes to cut down a tree, you should spend the first five sharpening your axe. We are used to the idea of bootstrapping ourselves into a position of maximum leverage before tackling a problem.

In the real world, this has led to a pathology where the tech sector maximizes its own comfort. You don't have to go far to see this. Hop on BART after the conference and take a look at Oakland, or take a stroll through downtown San Francisco and try to persuade yourself you're in the heart of a boom that has lasted for forty years. You'll see a residential theme park for tech workers, surrounded by areas of poverty and misery that have seen no benefit and ample harm from our presence. We pretend that by maximizing our convenience and productivity, we're hastening the day when we finally make life better for all those other people.

Third, treating the world as software promotes fantasies of control. And the best kind of control is control without responsibility. Our unique position as authors of software used by millions gives us power, but we don't accept that this should make us accountable. We're programmers—who else is going to write the software that runs the world? To put it plainly, we are surprised that people seem to get mad at us for trying to help.

Fortunately we are smart people and have found a way out of this predicament. Instead of relying on algorithms, which we can be accused of manipulating for our benefit, we have turned to machine learning, an ingenious way of disclaiming responsibility for anything. Machine learning is like money laundering for bias. It's a clean, mathematical apparatus that gives the status quo the aura of logical inevitability. The numbers don't lie.

Of course, people obsessed with control have to eventually confront the fact of their own extinction. The response of the tech world to death has been enthusiastic. We are going to fix it. Google Ventures, for example, is seriously funding research into immortality. Their head VC will call you a "deathist" for pointing out that this is delusional.

Such fantasies of control come with a dark side. Witness the current anxieties about an artificial superintelligence, or Elon Musk's apparently sincere belief that we're living in a simulation. For a computer programmer, that's the ultimate loss of control. Instead of writing the software, you are the software.

We obsess over these fake problems while creating some real ones.

In our attempt to feed the world to software, techies have built the greatest surveillance apparatus the world has ever seen. Unlike earlier efforts, this one is fully mechanized and in a large sense autonomous. Its power is latent, lying in the vast amounts of permanently stored personal data about entire populations.

We started out collecting this information by accident, as part of our project to automate everything, but soon realized that it had economic value. We could use it to make the process self-funding. And so mechanized surveillance has become the economic basis of the modern tech industry.

SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM

Surveillance capitalism has some of the features of a zero-sum game. The actual value of the data collected is not clear, but it is definitely an advantage to collect more than your rivals do. Because human beings develop an immune response to new forms of tracking and manipulation, the only way to stay successful is to keep finding novel ways to peer into people's private lives. And because much of the surveillance economy is funded by speculators, there is an incentive to try flashy things that will capture the speculators' imagination, and attract their money.

This creates a ratcheting effect where the behavior of ever more people is tracked ever more closely, and the collected information retained, in the hopes that further dollars can be squeezed out of it.

Just like industrialized manufacturing changed the relationship between labor and capital, surveillance capitalism is changing the relationship between private citizens and the entities doing the tracking. Our old ideas about individual privacy and consent no longer hold in a world where personal data is harvested on an industrial scale.

Those who benefit from the death of privacy attempt to frame our subjugation in terms of freedom, just like early factory owners talked about the sanctity of contract law. They insisted that a worker should have the right to agree to anything, from sixteen-hour days to unsafe working conditions, as if factory owners and workers were on an equal footing.

Companies that perform surveillance are attempting the same mental trick. They assert that we freely share our data in return for valuable services. But opting out of surveillance capitalism is like opting out of electricity, or cooked foods—you are free to do it in theory. In practice, it will upend your life.

Many of you had to obtain a US visa to attend this conference. The customs service announced yesterday it wants to start asking people for their social media profiles. Imagine trying to attend your next conference without a LinkedIn profile, and explaining to the American authorities why you are so suspiciously off the grid.

The reality is, opting out of surveillance capitalism means opting out of much of modern life.

We're used to talking about the private and public sector in the real economy, but in the surveillance economy this boundary doesn't exist. Much of the day-to-day work of surveillance is done by telecommunications firms, which have a close relationship with government. The techniques and software of surveillance are freely shared between practitioners on both sides. All of the major players in the surveillance economy cooperate with their own country's intelligence agencies, and are spied on (very effectively) by all the others.

As a technologist, this state of affairs gives me the feeling of living in a forest that is filling up with dry, dead wood. The very personal, very potent information we're gathering about people never goes away, only accumulates. I don't want to see the fire come, but at the same time, I can't figure out a way to persuade other people of the great danger.

So I try to spin scenarios.

THE INEVITABLE LIST OF SCARY SCENARIOS

One of the candidates running for President this year has promised to deport eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, as well as block Muslims from entering the country altogether. Try to imagine this policy enacted using the tools of modern technology. The FBI would subpoena Facebook for information on every user born abroad. Email and phone conversations would be monitored to check for the use of Arabic or Spanish, and sentiment analysis applied to see if the participants sounded "nervous". Social networks, phone metadata, and cell phone tracking would lead police to nests of hiding immigrants.

We could do a really good job deporting people if we put our minds to it.

Or consider the other candidate running for President, the one we consider the sane alternative, who has been a longtime promoter of a system of extrajudicial murder that uses blanket surveillance of cell phone traffic, email, and social media to create lists of people to be tracked and killed with autonomous aircraft. … [more]
culture  ethics  privacy  surveillance  technology  technosolutionism  maciegceglowski  2016  computing  coding  programming  problemsolving  systemsthinking  systems  software  control  power  elonmusk  marcandreessen  siliconvalley  sanfrancisco  oakland  responsibility  machinelearning  googlevntures  vc  capitalism  speculation  consent  labor  economics  poland  dystopia  government  politics  policy  immortality 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A Letter to Past Graduate-Student Me - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[via: https://twitter.com/davidtedu/status/746017338625953794 ]

[my response:
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022572936986626
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022887371345920

"Why this inventory first at grad school?
1. “grades are no longer the yardstick”
2. “be critical”
3. “colleagues-in-the-making”
4. “conversation between you & the other students”
5. “skimming”
6. “curtail your competitive nature”
7. summary: responsibility ]

"Your grades. I know you’re pretty pleased with yourself for earning an A- on your senior thesis, but you need to learn that grades mean something different in graduate school. Nearly everyone gets an A- or an A in every history class, and after a certain point everything will be pass/fail. Sure, if you decide to change programs, you’ll want a high GPA. But you should stop stressing over the outcome of each semester because your grades are no longer the yardstick by which your successes will be measured.

What your professors expect — more than anything — is for you to want to learn because you’re passionate about a topic, not because you’re passionate about doing well. Stop trying to figure out grading criteria, and start wrapping your head around new trends in your subfield. "Success" is measured, in part, by your ability to identify omissions in current scholarship, and to win funding to write about them and why they matter.

Your seminars. Another thing your professors will want you to be enthusiastic about is their seminars. The hours we spend teaching graduate students are when we as faculty are most able to draw upon our own research.

Go to class regularly but remember that, at this level, professors are not here to chase you about attendance. If you have to miss seminar for a reasonable reason (you’re legitimately sick, you have a job interview, or you have a childcare or family crisis), let us know, as most of us will be sympathetic. But if you need to miss seminar because you’re hungover, didn’t do the reading, or planned a vacation without looking at the semester’s calendar, don’t explain any of that to your professors. Just take the absence, and assume that it reflects poorly on you as a student.

When you do come to class, it won’t be the same as your senior-year seminars. You’ll encounter more challenging readings. Many professors use graduate courses to both run through established, canonical texts, and to catch up on the newest scholarship in the field. So get ready for some easy readings, some articles that will make you want to throw things, and some texts that will prompt you to question why you were asked to go through them at all. As you read, remember that graduate school should transform you into a good scholar and colleague. It’s OK to be critical of a book, but you need to learn how to be critical in a constructive, respectful way. (Keep in mind: The professor might be friends with the author.)

Our teaching style might also surprise you. If it does, it’s because we are thinking of you as colleagues-in-the-making, rather than students. That means: Expect less guidance on what to make of the readings, and minimal stretches of time when we seem to feed you information. Don’t count on being told whether your comments on the reading are on track or not — you may even find that you’re expected to lead discussion and to tell fellow students whether their assessments of the reading seem convincing.

Perhaps the most significant change is that you and your fellow students’ contributions are expected to fill almost the entirety of the seminar time. You are our peers-in-training, and we expect to hear you speak more than we do during these meetings. Don’t use class time to try to have an extended conversation featuring just you and the professor. Think of seminar as a conversation between you and the other students, with the professor there to moderate discussion.

Is there someone in class who always seems to have grasped the author’s argument and the book’s significance? You should be picking up tips for strategic reading from them, rather than wondering why no one else besides you had a problem with the footnote on page 394. And while we’re at it, learn to skim (and no, Past Me, "skimming" does not mean putting the book on your lap and turning the pages faster than usual), and become best friends with book reviews.

You should be getting the sense that graduate school — starting with the master’s — is about strategic study. Spend the most time with the texts and sources that interest you. But be smart about how what you’re reading will help you write your M.A. thesis, how it will help you study for comprehensive exams, or how it will aid you as you conceptualize the dissertation (if you plan to go that far).

Be deliberate about your end-of-semester research papers. Many professors will be willing to let you bend the chronological and geographic scope of our classes if it means you will write the seminar paper that is most useful for you in the future.

Your work versus your life. So, Past Me, that’s a lot of advice about coursework — but graduate school should have work/life balance.

You’ll need to curtail your competitive nature in graduate school. Don’t get me wrong: You can and should be aware of what other people in your cohort and the cohort above you are writing and planning to publish, and you should have a sense of the significant grants in your discipline and who’s recently won them. But do not try to write "better" or faster than other people. Figure out your writing and reading styles, do what works for you, and remember that a few of your fellow students might be future colleagues. Save your competitiveness for your department’s intramural sports teams, which will provide excellent opportunities to pursue work/life balance and to get humiliated by undergraduates who are in much better shape.
You should also be a good citizen. Turn up to departmental seminars, and, if graduate students are invited, to job talks. Seminars and university lectures are good opportunities to take the pulse of a given field, and sitting in the audience might spark research ideas you hadn’t considered for your own work. Attending job talks will give you an excellent opportunity to see what works — and what doesn’t — as A.B.D.s and new Ph.D.s try to sell themselves on the job market.

Finally, banish the following phrase from your vocabulary: "No one told me that …"

Graduate school is an exercise in people not telling you things. It’s also an exercise in learning when to ask questions, and whom to ask. Make it your job to be informed. Read your graduate school’s handbook, and go speak with your department’s amazing administrators if you have initial questions. They will not say no to chocolate. Read The Professor Is In, but also ask people who were recently on the job market whether her advice worked for them in your discipline. When senior scholars come to give talks, take the opportunity to go for drinks with them if that option is available to graduate students, and seek their advice about research and publishing. Read The Chronicle’s forums. Meet regularly with your adviser, but keep in mind that you are the one who should request those meetings.

Most of all, take responsibility for your graduate-school experience. It’s going to be tough; but it’s going to be fun, too.

Hugs, caffeine, and work/life balance,

Future Me"
via:davidtheriault  skimming  howwelearn  gradschool  responsibility  highered  highereducation  sfsh  conversation  learning  criticism  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  measurement  assessment  seminars  rachelherrmann  tcsnmy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Sesat School: On parents’ involvement in education
"My friend Martin Varsavsky posted on Facebook about Michael Moore’s upcoming new film “Where to Invade Next“, which features the Finnish education system (the clip is embedded below).

Martin commented:

“What nobody addresses when speaking about the Finnish education miracle is that maybe the secret is not so much what is happening at school but the level of parental attention and education these kids are getting at home.”

Below is my response:

"Martin, you nailed the issue. I have looked into the parent involvement question a little bit as part of running Sesat School in California, and found some surprising results. Also, my father is a Professor at the Department of Education at the University of Helsinki, which probably colors my thinking.

What I found is that Finns (surprisingly, perhaps!) do not emphasize parental involvement in children’s schooling very much. Instead (not so surprisingly, and in direct contrast with the U.S.), they care a lot about involvement in the sense of children being trusted with responsibility to make decisions that genuinely impact their own lives.

Data correlates this approach with results. In 2012 the OECD (Education Working Paper 73) compared parental involvement in 14 PISA countries. Finland wasn’t part of the sample, but the findings are informative: the three kinds of parental involvement highlighted by the OECD as most effective are (1) reading books to young children (2) discussing complex issues with children (3) parents reading to themselves for enjoyment.

In contrast, the American conversation on parental involvement has focused on (1) parents attending school functions and responding to school obligations (parent-teacher conferences, for example); (2) parents helping children improve their
schoolwork; (3) parents monitoring homework and actively tutoring their children at home. These are the top three modes of parent involvement highlighted in a paper by Cotton & Reed Wikelund, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

When I compared this with the Finnish literature, I was surprised how little had been written in Finland about parents’ involvement in schooling (in the U.S. sense). Instead, Finns have been very concerned about children’s involvement in decision-making. When you search Google in Finnish for “parents’ involvement”, Google suggests results about “children’s involvement”! The Finns pay particular attention to kids’ involvement in decisions related to their own education, as well as decisions that impact their lives more broadly (urban planning, for instance).

To give you an example, here’s what Finland’s Ministry of Education wrote in 2011:

“It is recommended that student bodies be made obligatory on all levels of education, and that their objectives and responsibilities be enacted into law. Moreover, special methods [of involving very young children in decision-making] must be developed for kindergartens and preschools.”

This paper was co-signed by the Minister of Education and his deputy of Youth Affairs.

Perhaps instead of encroaching more on their kids’ lives in and out of school, U.S. parents should redefine “involvement” as courage to let their kids start making more of their important life decisions earlier, so they grow up learning that it’s perfectly normal and OK to expect to have real responsibility for one’s actions.

Food for thought :)""
jyriengestrom  finland  parenting  2016  us  education  sfsh  michaelmoore  reding  responsibility  learning  children  childhood  trust  decisionmaking 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Innovation is overvalued. Maintenance often matters more | Aeon Essays
"Capitalism excels at innovation but is failing at maintenance, and for most lives it is maintenance that matters more"



"At the turn of the millennium, in the world of business and technology, innovation had transformed into an erotic fetish. Armies of young tech wizards aspired to become disrupters. The ambition to disrupt in pursuit of innovation transcended politics, enlisting liberals and conservatives alike. Conservative politicians could gut government and cut taxes in the name of spurring entrepreneurship, while liberals could create new programmes aimed at fostering research. The idea was vague enough to do nearly anything in its name without feeling the slightest conflict, just as long as you repeated the mantra: INNOVATION!! ENTREPRENEURSHIP!!

A few years later, however, one could detect tremors of dissent. In a biting essay titled ‘Innovation is the New Black’, Michael Bierut, writing in Design Observer in 2005, lamented the ‘mania for innovation, or at least for endlessly repeating the word “innovation”’. Soon, even business publications began to raise the question of inherent worth. In 2006, The Economist noted that Chinese officials had made innovation into a ‘national buzzword’, even as it smugly reported that China’s educational system ‘stresses conformity and does little to foster independent thinking’, and that the Communist Party’s new catchphrases ‘mostly end up fizzling out in puddles of rhetoric’. Later that year, Businessweek warned: ‘Innovation is in grave danger of becoming the latest overused buzzword. We’re doing our part at Businessweek.’ Again in Businessweek, on the last day of 2008, the design critic Bruce Nussbaum returned to the theme, declaring that innovation ‘died in 2008, killed off by overuse, misuse, narrowness, incrementalism and failure to evolve… In the end, “Innovation” proved to be weak as both a tactic and strategy in the face of economic and social turmoil.’

In 2012, even the Wall Street Journal got into innovation-bashing act, noting ‘the Term Has Begun to Lose Meaning’. At the time, it counted ‘more than 250 books with “innovation” in the title… published in the last three months’. A professional innovation consultant it interviewed advised his clients to ban the word at their companies. He said it was just a ‘word to hide the lack of substance’."



"Nixon, wrong about so many things, also was wrong to point to household appliances as self-evident indicators of American progress. Ironically, Cowan’s work first met with scepticism among male scholars working in the history of technology, whose focus was a male pantheon of inventors: Bell, Morse, Edison, Tesla, Diesel, Shockley, and so on. A renewed focus on maintenance and repair also has implications beyond the gender politics that More Work for Mother brought to light. When they set innovation-obsession to the side, scholars can confront various kinds of low-wage labour performed by many African-Americans, Latinos, and other racial and ethnic minorities. From this perspective, recent struggles over increasing the minimum wage, including for fast food workers, can be seen as arguments for the dignity of being a maintainer.

We organised a conference to bring the work of the maintainers into clearer focus. More than 40 scholars answered a call for papers asking, ‘What is at stake if we move scholarship away from innovation and toward maintenance?’ Historians, social scientists, economists, business scholars, artists, and activists responded. They all want to talk about technology outside of innovation’s shadow.

One important topic of conversation is the danger of moving too triumphantly from innovation to maintenance. There is no point in keeping the practice of hero-worship that merely changes the cast of heroes without confronting some of the deeper problems underlying the innovation obsession. One of the most significant problems is the male-dominated culture of technology, manifest in recent embarrassments such as the flagrant misogyny in the ‘#GamerGate’ row a couple of years ago, as well as the persistent pay gap between men and women doing the same work.

There is an urgent need to reckon more squarely and honestly with our machines and ourselves. Ultimately, emphasising maintenance involves moving from buzzwords to values, and from means to ends. In formal economic terms, ‘innovation’ involves the diffusion of new things and practices. The term is completely agnostic about whether these things and practices are good. Crack cocaine, for example, was a highly innovative product in the 1980s, which involved a great deal of entrepreneurship (called ‘dealing’) and generated lots of revenue. Innovation! Entrepreneurship! Perhaps this point is cynical, but it draws our attention to a perverse reality: contemporary discourse treats innovation as a positive value in itself, when it is not.

Entire societies have come to talk about innovation as if it were an inherently desirable value, like love, fraternity, courage, beauty, dignity, or responsibility. Innovation-speak worships at the altar of change, but it rarely asks who benefits, to what end? A focus on maintenance provides opportunities to ask questions about what we really want out of technologies. What do we really care about? What kind of society do we want to live in? Will this help get us there? We must shift from means, including the technologies that underpin our everyday actions, to ends, including the many kinds of social beneficence and improvement that technology can offer. Our increasingly unequal and fearful world would be grateful."
leevinsel  andrewrussell  maintenance  infrastructure  innovation  technology  2016  capitalism  repair  growth  robertgordon  siliconvalley  creativeclass  economics  claytonchristensen  entrepreneurship  business  michaelbierut  inequality  love  fraternity  courage  beauty  dignity  responsibility  change  society  maintainers  labor  care  repairing  themaintainers 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Kurt Hahn - Wikipedia
"Six Declines of Modern Youth

1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];
2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis;
3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers;
6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death".

Hahn not only pointed out the decline of modern youth, he also came up with four antidotes to fix the problem.

1. Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one's self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)
2. Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)
3. Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)
4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
These 10 principles, which seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning, were drawn[by whom?] from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders[which?] for use in Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) schools.

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

4. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.

8. The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches[clarification needed] the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others.

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."
kurthahn  learning  youth  fitness  health  skill  care  self-discipline  memory  imagination  consumerism  spectatoritis  locomotion  williamtemple  stimulation  expeditions  projects  projectbasedlearning  self-discovery  howwelearn  outwardbound  unitedworldcolleges  collaboration  competition  nature  outdoors  solitude  reflection  compassion  service  servicelearning  howweteach  education  pedagogy  experientiallearning  experience  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility 
april 2016 by robertogreco
“I don’t like kids” – TANGERINA
"The desire to go to a cafe and have no noisy children in your vicinity is simultaneously understandable, and part of a crappy Victorian-era-hangover about who has priority in public spaces.

Being frustrated and overwhelmed when children are around is simultaneously totally normal, and part of what happens when a society becomes inwardly focused and loses a sense of collective care and responsibility.

Not wanting to be a caregiver is simultaneously your undeniable right, and a desire that can line up with the harmful view of children and parents as less valuable members of society."

[via: https://twitter.com/gtiso/status/714687576955863040 ]
children  agesegregation  2016  society  publicspace  responsibility  care 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Joy: A Subject Schools Lack - The Atlantic
"Building on a child’s ability to feel joy, rather than pushing it aside, wouldn’t be that hard. It would just require a shift in the education world’s mindset. Instead of trying to get children to buckle down, why not focus on getting them to take pleasure in meaningful, productive activity, like making things, working with others, exploring ideas, and solving problems? These focuses are not so different from the things to which they already gravitate and in which they delight.

Before you brush this argument aside as sentimental fluff, or think of joy as an unaffordable luxury in a nation where there is dire poverty, low academic achievement, and high dropout rates, think again. The more dire the school circumstances, the more important pleasure is to achieving any educational success.

Many of the assignments and rules teachers come up with, often because they are pressured by their administrators, treat pleasure and joy as the enemies of competence and responsibility. The assumption is that children shouldn’t chat in the classroom because it disrupts hard work; instead, they should learn to delay gratification so that they can pursue abstract goals, like going to college. They should keep their hands to themselves and tolerate boredom so that they become good at being bored later on.

Not only is this a dreary and awful way to treat children, it makes no sense educationally. Decades of research have shown that in order to acquire skills and real knowledge in school, kids need to want to learn. You can force a child to stay in his or her seat, fill out a worksheet, or practice division. But you can’t force a person to think carefully, enjoy books, digest complex information, or develop a taste for learning. To make that happen, you have to help the child find pleasure in learning—to see school as a source of joy.

Adults tend to talk about learning as if it were medicine: unpleasant, but necessary and good for you. Why not instead think of learning as if it were food—something so valuable to humans that they have evolved to experience it as a pleasure? The more a person likes fresh, healthy food, the more likely that individual is to have a good diet. Why can’t it be the same with learning? Let children learn because they love to—think only of a 2-year-old trying to talk to see how natural humans’ thirst for knowledge is. Then, in school, help children build on their natural joy in learning.

Joy should not be trained out of children or left for after-school programs. The more difficult a child’s life circumstances, the more important it is for that child to find joy in his or her classroom. "Pleasure" is not a dirty word. And it’s not antithetical to the goals of K-12 public education. It is, in fact, the sine qua non."
education  joy  susanengel  2016  howwelearn  schools  poverty  pleasure  responsibility  competence  rules  boredom  learning 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Toward Humane Tech — Medium
"If you make technology, or work in the tech industry, I have good news for you: we won."

"We’re not nerds, or outsiders, or underdogs anymore. What we do, and what we make, shapes culture and society, deeply influencing everything from artistic expression to policy and regulation to the way we see our friends, family and selves.

But we haven’t taken responsibility for ourselves in a manner that befits the wealthiest and most powerful industry that’s ever been created. We fancy ourselves outlaws while we shape laws, and consider ourselves disruptive without sufficient consideration for the people and institutions we disrupt. We have to do better, and we will.

While thinking about this reality, and these problems, I’ve struggled with all the different dimensions of the challenge. We could address our profound issues around inclusion and diversity but still be wildly irresponsible about our environmental impact. We could start to respect legal processes and the need for thoughtful engagement with policy makers but still be cavalier about the privacy and security of our users’ data. We could continue to invest in design and user experience but remain thoughtless about the emotional and psychological impacts of the experiences we create. We could continue to bemoan the shortcomings of legacy industries while exacerbating issues like income inequality or social inequity.

I’m not hopeless about it; in fact, if there’s one unifying value that connects everyone in tech, no matter how critical or complacent they may be, it’s an underlying vein of optimism. I want to tap into that optimism, but direct it toward making sure we’re actually making things better, and not just for ourselves.

So I’m going to start to keep some notes, about the functional, pragmatic things we can do to make sure our technologies, and the community that creates those technologies, become far more humane. The conversation about the tech industry has changed profoundly in the past few years. It is no longer radical to raise issues of ethics or civics when evaluating a new product or company. But that’s the simplest starting point, a basic acknowledgment that what we do matters and actually affects people.

We have to think about inclusion, acceptance and diversity, to start. We need to think deeply about our language and communications, and the way we express what technology does. We need to question the mythologies we build around concepts like “founders” or “inventions” or even “startups”. We need to challenge our definitions of success and progress, and to stop considering our work in solely commercial terms. We need to radically improve our systems of compensation, to be responsible about credit and attribution, and to be generous and fair with reward and remuneration. We need to consider the impact our work has on the planet. We need to consider the impact our work has on civic and academic institutions, on artistic expression, on culture.

I’m optimistic, but I think this is going to continue to require a lot of hard work over a long period of time. My first step is to start taking notes about the goal we’re working toward. Let’s get to work."
anildash  2016  technology  siliconvalley  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  acceptance  gender  language  communication  compensation  responsibility  attribution  environment  privacy  security  inequality  incomeinequality  law  legal  disruption  culture  society 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Sha Hwang - Keynote [Forms of Protest] - UX Burlington on Vimeo
"Let’s close the day by talking about our responsibilities and opportunities as designers. Let’s talk about the pace of fashion and the promise of infrastructure. Let’s talk about systematic failure — failure without malice. Let’s talk about the ways to engage in this messy and complex world. Let’s throw shade on fame and shine light on the hard quiet work we call design."
shahwang  2015  design  infrastructure  fashion  systemsthinking  complexity  messiness  protest  careers  technology  systems  storytelling  scale  stewartbrand  change  thehero'sjourney  founder'sstory  politics  narrative  narratives  systemsdesign  blame  control  algorithms  systemfailure  healthcare.gov  mythmaking  teams  purpose  scalability  bias  microaggressions  dignity  abuse  malice  goodwill  fear  inattention  donellameadows  leveragepoints  making  building  constraints  coding  code  programming  consistency  communication  sharing  conversation  government  ux  law  uxdesign  simplicity  kindness  individuals  responsibility  webdev  web  internet  nava  codeforamerica  18f  webdesign 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The "Unstructured Classroom" and other misconceptions about Constructivist Learning | FabLearn Fellows
"Ask any average kid what his or her favorite part of the school day is and you will probably get the answer lunch or recess. Kids love unstructured time because they have the privacy to fail while taking risks or learning how to be a social primate. At recess, kids have nearly 100% choice over what to do with their bodies, with the safe assumption that in case an injury does occur, an adult on duty will be on the scene in due time. Provide kids with a rich, not necessarily antiseptic space to explore and they teach us a lot about ingenuity, inclusivity and learning through play. Whether passionate about the physics of soccer or the game theory involved in the antics the day of a middle school dance, learning is experiential and self-directed at recess. Regardless of what passion takes over their choice time, we as adults trust them to make safe choices for the most part and we respect their individuality. So why does that trust shift when those same children come into our classrooms?


In the three years that I have been teaching science through the lens of making or inventing and problem solving, I have often heard the iLab, referred to as “unstructured,” by some well meaning adults. This harkens back to the discord between what we know progressive education can be versus what we envision when we think of a “progressive classroom.” When I worked at Calhoun in New York City, we were considered a progressive school and we often had the debate about what we mean by the term “unstructured.” The debate would invariably follow a conversation with a nervous parent that would go something like this, “Its good for some kids maybe, but my son doesn’t do well in an “unstructured” classroom.”

Student-Centered means having access to the tools and knowledge needed to set and reach learning goals. In this simple example, having tools out for a help-your-self community workshop feeling does the trick.

If that child struggles in his or her academic classes they may have an Individualized Learning Plan, which often involves the suggestion to write every instruction down for the child and to be explicit regarding the modes for success in your class. In other words, the best thing for the student to be and feel successful is to tell the child what and how to learn, as much as possible. While at first glance, this kind of teacher-led structure, which we want to spare high achieving kids from normally, seems like good teaching. We even have the perfect safe sounding term for it, its called scaffolding. My concern is that some scaffolding is tantamount to helmet laws which may be teaching us to be less safe in the end. Having had the gift of watching students learning in a student-centered classroom, however this translates to me, as nothing more than a lack of trust for children’s innate desire to learn what matters to them and an equal instinct to find importance through autonomy and risk taking and helping others. Thankfully, I am not alone in my uncensored trust of children as progressive playgrounds in Europe and Berkeley Ca, are beginning to prove.

By its own existence, a pre-set school curriculum assumes that children can not be held responsible for their own learning. On the one hand we as adults who work with kids, know kids do not always know what they do not know. Learning how to learn means seeing the stepping stones between just an idea and an idea that works. The skills of research and the use of tools for learning in general, are sometimes better taught step by step in the same fashion for most. On the less optimistic hand, cookie cutter curriculum also allows for some ridiculous falsehoods that many adults live in fear of. For instance, most adults worry children would not learn to read, or write, or to do math, left to their own devices and need the structure of school to make those skills materialize. Thank god dire circumstances still allow for disruptive questions to be asked, such as those asked by Dr. Sugata Mitra, allowing for a more diverse picture of who we are as a species, one that engages in learning for the sake of learning.

Here is my response to the claim that a maker classroom is unstructured. There are skills to be gained in any maker style curriculum on a spectrum from totally student driven to totally teacher directed. In my classroom I lean more towards student-directed with a game-like structure. For any given unit, either patterns, structures or systems, I give a simple prompt which allows for the most diverse range of solutions for students to discover. In game like fashion, there are rules about deadlines, teams and rules about when and how long play takes place (thats built into the school day schedule). There are “levels” of achievement and complexity of learning embedded into the system to be mindful of safety, and to allow for a mentoring system so knowledge is democratic and passion-based. Allowing students to chose the complexity with which they want to solve a problem is a side of autonomy that we cross our fingers over, but in the end, even when kids pick hard problems, they are experiencing something of value in that path full of potentially frustrating dead-ends. A list of such values we have all seen in our own ways teaching this kind of learning style. This past weekend at FabLearn, Sylvia Martinez, of Invent To Learn and Constructing Modern Knowledge, put it succinctly when she compared the kind of work kids can do in a fabrication lab environment to little league baseball. The authenticity of the work that kids do in an environment of constructing, allows kids see themselves as real inventors and engineers in the fashion that a little league player can imagine being a professional baseball player. It feels real and its age appropriate."
christaflores  2014  education  teaching  learning  schools  constructivism  unstructured  student-centered  fablearn  pauloblikstein  making  progressive  sugatamitra  responsibility  unschooling  deschooling  howwelearn  ilab  pedagogy  formativeassessment  paulahooper 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Not-yetness | the red pincushion
"I have done several talks lately about the idea of not-yetness. It’s an idea that Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh) and I first wrote about in our chapter, Complexity, mess, and not-yetness: Teaching online with emerging technologies, to be published in the forthcoming second edition of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education. In the first edition of the book, our esteemed editor, George Veletsianos, wrote about defining emerging technologies. He wrote that emerging technologies can be both old and new technologies and they are constantly-evolving organisms that experience hype cycles. George also noted that emerging technologies satisfy two “not yet” conditions: they are not fully understood, and not fully researched.

These not-yet conditions hit home for Jen and me. Writing from a complexity theory lens, we thought of not-yetness as being related to emergence. Noel Gough (2012) defines emergence as a key attribute of most human environments and systems, and what occurs when “a system of richly connected interacting agents produces a new pattern of organization that feeds back into the system.”

In our context, emergence is allowing new ideas, new methodologies, new findings, new ways of learning, new ways of doing, and new synergies to emerge and to have those things continue to feed back into more emergence. Emergence is a good thing. For us, not-yetness is the space that allows for emergence. Not-yetness is not satisfying every condition, not fully understanding something, not check-listing everything, not tidying everything, not trying to solve every problem…but creating space for emergence to take us to new and unpredictable places, to help us better understand the problems we are trying to solve (to use Mike Caulfield’s wisdom).

This is becoming increasingly important in education, where the rhetoric surrounding educational technology pushes simplification, ease, efficiency, and measurable-everything. This rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with the accountability movements (many call it “evidence-based practice”) at play in educational contexts. Randy Bass wrote that “these pressures for accountability are making us simultaneously more thoughtful and more limited in what we count as learning.” We hear a lot about “best practices” and “what works,” which Jen and others (Sian Bayne, Hamish Macleod, and Clara O’Shea) have argued is a “totalising notion.” There are lots of ways of understanding what our students experience, lots of ways to do things “right,” lots of definitions of right.

Davis and Sumara (2008) argue that “an education that is understood in complexity terms cannot be conceived in terms of preparation for the future. Rather, it must be construed in terms of participation in the creation of possible futures” (p. 43). And yet the push for simplicity and accountability defines a pretty narrow set of possible outcomes for students. Gardner Campbell cautions us to be careful with learning outcomes statements: “Yet these {learning outcomes} are still behaviors, specified with a set of what I can only describe as jawohl! statements, all rewarding the bon eleves and marching toward compliance and away from more elusive and disruptive concepts like curiosity or wonder.” Simplification and an over-pursuit of accountability run counter to our view that education is complex, messy, creative, unpredictable, multi-faceted, social, and part of larger systems.

We argue that not-yetness helps us to make space for critical discussions and experiments with emerging technologies in a way that recognizes the beautiful complexity of teaching and learning. As Jen said in our ET4Online plenary talk, which focused on messiness and not-yetness in digital learning, “We can use it to tell new stories about what teachers, students, developers, designers and researchers are doing in our digital practices, and why it is hard, and why it matters. We can take better account of issues of power, responsibility, sustainability, reach and contact in digital education. We can be more open about the work of education.”
To that end, Jen and I write in our forthcoming chapter, “We need practices that acknowledge and work with complexity to help us stay open to what may be genuinely surprising about what happens when online learning and teaching meets emerging technologies. In this sense, our focus as educators should be on emergent situations, where complexity gives rise to ‘new properties and behaviours… that are not contained in the essence of the constituent elements, or able to be predicted from a knowledge of initial conditions’ (Mason 2008, p.2).”

So what does all of this mean for educators? Here are some ideas. Embracing not-yetness means making space for learning opportunities that:

• promote creativity, play, exploration, awe

• allow for more, not fewer, connections, more personalization (true personalization, not necessarily what has been offered to us by adaptive learning companies)

• transcend bounds of time, space, location, course, and curriculum

• encourage students to exceed our expectations, beyond our wildest outcomes, pushes back on “data science of learning” focus

• do not hand over essential university functions and important complexities over to private industry

In my talks, I shared examples of projects that I think embody or embrace not-yetness. I’ll share those examples in my follow-on post.

As I was looking at these projects, trying to better understand them, I started thinking about Legos. I love Legos. I was talking to my friend Mike Caulfield, who is at Washington State University-Vancouver about this idea and he said, “do you remember when Legos used to just be free-range Legos? Now, they are these sets that have instructions and tell you how to build exactly what they want you to build. They were trying to eliminate the problem of kids not knowing how to build Legos, but instead they also eliminated the opportunities for creative expression.”

This really hit home for me, because I was really into Legos as a kid and my son is really into Legos. I decided to run a little experiment—mostly for my own curiosity. I decided to see what would happen if I gave him the same Lego set twice and had him build it once with the instructions and once without. First, this is what happened when Vaughn had the Lego instructions (fyi–the videos have no audio):

[video]

I thought that, when I gave him the set without the instructions, he would try to copy what he had done when he had the instructions. But instead, after suspiciously confirming that he could build whatever he wanted, here is what happened…

[video]

Note that throughout the time he was building without the instructions, he was also playing. Note that he is making sounds (though there is no audio, you can clearly see he’s making the requisite “boom” and “fffffsssshhhhh” sounds a six year old makes), talking more, smiling. He’s exploring. He’s enjoying himself.

Building Legos without instructions may have seemed harder or daunting at first, but instead it opened up space for his creativity. Not-yetness—not specifying outcomes, not predicting what he would or should do, not outlining each step—opened up space for play and for the three really cool ships he built.

I know that my highly scientific experiment may not work for everyone, but what you see in these videos is one reason why we argue for not-yetness. Because of the play, the fun, the opportunity in complexity and not-yetness. The ill-defined, the un-prescribed, the messy can lead to the unexpected, the joyful. Noel Gough (2012) writes, “complexity invites us to understand that many of the processes and activities that shape the worlds we inhabit are open, recursive, organic, nonlinear and emergent. It also invites us to be skeptical of mechanistic and reductionist explanations, which assume that these processes and activities are linear, deterministic and/or predictable and, therefore, that they can be controlled (at least in principle).”

Open, recursive, organic, nonlinear…these things say to me that we can have learning that is unpredictable, fun, emergent, organic, freeing, co-developed, co-experienced, complex, deep, meaningful.

So as I looked for projects that embodied not-yetness, I kept these concepts, and my son’s Lego adventure, in mind. In my next blog post, I’ll share those examples. Stay tuned!"

[Follow-up post: http://redpincushion.us/blog/professional-development/mess-not-yetness-at-et4online/ ]
amycollier  via:steelemaley  messiness  unschooling  learning  emergent  emergence  emergentcurriculum  2015  lego  not-yetness  gardnercampbell  edtech  noelgough  pedagogy  instructions  directinstruction  mikecaulfield  brentdavis  dennissumara  complexity  curriculum  tcsnmy  howwelearn  howweteach  online  web  georgeveletsianos  emergenttechnologies  technology  simplification  efficiency  quantification  measurement  cv  hamishmacleod  clarao'shea  sianbayne  randybass  open  openness  jenross  criticalpedagogy  recursion  spiraling  rhizomaticlearning  nonlinear  deschooling  meaningmaking  understanding  depth  unpredictability  unfinished  behavior  power  responsibility  sustainability  reach  contact  lcproject  openstudioproject  teaching  education  schools  cocreation  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
december 2015 by robertogreco
How masks explain the psychology behind online haras...
"Every human culture has used masks for ritual disinhibition, shaming and play. Is being online the ultimate masquerade?"



"Everywhere there are masks, we find this pattern of transgression. In medieval Venice, where masks were common fashion accessories, various laws testify to their anarchic tendencies. Masks were subject to a curfew, and could not be worn after dark. Mask-wearers were prohibited from carrying weapons or entering a church, and men were forbidden to wear masks in a convent. A law from 1268 forbids the apparently common practice of putting on a mask and throwing eggs full of rose water at ladies.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the fashion for mask-wearing spread to women all over Europe. Typically made of silk and velvet, these masks were first popularised as a means of protecting one’s complexion from the sun – and one’s modesty from the gaze of impertinent men. But women soon realised that masks also protected one’s identity, and began to wear them when they were up to no good. Sometimes, that just meant attending the theatre – frowned upon because of the indecency of the performances, and the audience. But a mask also allowed a lady to flirt outrageously without losing her reputation, and was an indispensable accessory when sneaking off to an assignation. In short, as soon as people put on masks they begin to violate social norms.

In psychology, this effect is known as ‘disinhibition’, and there’s a rich research literature on masks as disinhibiting props. In a typical experiment in 1976, researchers at Western Illinois University paid students to walk around their campus cafeteria carrying a banner reading: ‘Masturbation is fun.’ Students who were allowed to wear a ski mask were willing to do it for an average of $29.98, while bare-faced students demanded almost twice as much. A 1979 study at Purdue University found that trick-or-treating children, when left alone with a bowl of candy and told to take just one piece, were significantly more likely to grab a handful if their costumes included masks. This was true even when they had already told the researchers their names.

Identical patterns appear when people interact online. In the article ‘The Online Disinhibition Effect’ (2004), the psychologist John Suler at Rider University in New Jersey distinguishes benign disinhibition (a tendency for people to be more open when communicating virtually) from toxic disinhibition. A study in 2000 for the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that people reported more drug use when questionnaires were administered by computer instead of in person. In research published in 1996 by scientists at the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago established that, when dealing with a computer (as opposed to a human interviewer), male respondents report having fewer sexual partners – and women more. Various other researchers, including Adam Joinson in Bristol and Joseph Walther at Cornell, have found that people disclose more personal information chatting online, as opposed to speaking face-to-face. These are all positive examples of the liberating influence of online masking. As Suler notes: ‘Hostile words in a chat encounter could be a therapeutic breakthrough for some people.’

But online life is also riddled with toxic disinhibition. A Pew survey in 2014 found that 40 per cent of adult internet users reported being harassed online. Most harassment consisted of insults and verbal humiliation, but 8 per cent of respondents said they’d experienced physical threats, and 7 per cent had been the targets of a sustained campaign of harassment. The problem is much worse among young people: 70 per cent of those aged 18-24 claimed to be victims of online harassment. A Johns Hopkins University study in 2007 found that 64 per cent of bullied children were exclusively attacked online. That is, many children who were habitual bullies on social media would completely refrain from this behaviour when meeting their victims in person.

The uncomfortable message is that online mask-wearing doesn’t just conceal one’s identity, it transforms it – just as with ritual mask-wearers possessed by unruly gods. These effects are strongly amplified by a sense of the activity as separate from ‘real’ life. Suler calls this phenomenon ‘dissociative imagination’, commenting: ‘people may feel that the imaginary characters they “created” exist in a different space, that one’s online persona… [inhabits] a make-believe dimension, separate and apart from the demands and responsibilities of the real world.’"



"Updated and transferred online, both the masked avenger and the Schandmaske reappear in the phenomenon of internet shaming, where a crowd of strangers come together to punish someone, usually for an offensive statement. These campaigns can quickly escalate from insults to death threats, and almost always include demands that the target be fired from their job – demands that are often gratified by intimidated employers. Targets are also ‘doxxed’, meaning that their personal details are published online – a practice that combines the symbolic unmasking of the lucha libre wrestler with the implied threat of real-world violence. Most of the aggressors are masked by anonymity. All are operating in the world of the computer screen, where the consequences of actions – losing one’s livelihood for a single off-colour joke – can be seen as symbolic, not quite real.

An essential part of internet shaming is that the target is reduced to a single definition: they are made to wear the mask of the Sexist or the Racist (or the Angry Feminist or the Race-Baiter). Then, just as with the medieval Scold’s Bridle, a mob gathers to throw filth and insults at the idea represented by the mask. The other qualities of its wearer, and the suffering they experience, remain out of sight, and mind.

These considerations might make both masks and online communication seem dangerous and uncanny; a thing we would be well-advised to avoid, since much of our social life has overtones of a mask experience. We go to work and wear a professional mask, then come home and adopt a parental mask. We even have specific personas that go with individual friends. As Johnstone writes:
We don’t realise that much of our lives is spent in some form of trance, ie absorbed. What we assume to be ‘normal consciousness’ is actually quite rare, it’s like the light in the refrigerator: when you look in, there you are ON, but what’s happening when you don’t look in?

These mask states have a purpose. Role-playing provides us with a suite of shortcuts, facilitating behaviours that might feel false or embarrassing to our ‘true’ selves (think of making polite small talk, or singing nonsense songs to a three-year-old). When people see us in terms of these masks, we’re mostly content to let them do so. We do not interrupt business meetings by saying: ‘Hold on – I also have a range of tender emotions’, or break into a romantic moment by saying: ‘These clichéd endearments don’t fit very well with my usual idea of myself.’ And in fact, the self might just be an agglomeration of masks, of all the roles we play, including the roles we play in private fantasies; a personal Mardi Gras that parades multifariously through our lives.

So the point is not that we should always be our ‘true’ selves – an aim that is probably impossible, and certainly impractical. Instead, we should learn to understand the power of the masks we wear. We should cultivate an awareness of when we’re being unduly ‘possessed’ by them, and practise the invaluable skill of tearing them off in a timely fashion. We should resist any angry impulse to pick up a mask that carries a streak of sadism. When others are trying to impose a ‘punishment mask’ on someone else, we should have the courage to intervene. Above all, we should remember that, behind the masked figures that surround us, there are people as vulnerable, fallible, as real as ourselves."
sandranewman  masks  online  web  internet  behavior  disinhibition  shaming  play  bullying  culture  anonymity  hooliganism  responsibility  identity  vandalism  psychology  johnsuler  benigndisinhibition  toxicdisinhibition  adamjoinson  josephwalther  masking  hostility  harassment  socialmedia  transgression  dissociativeimagination  personas  onlinepersonas  luchalibre  mexico  humiliation  superheroes  comics  sadism  mardigras  carnaval  self 
december 2015 by robertogreco
analysis about cabbies & uber in toronto (with images, tweets) · pangmeli · Storify
"touching on technological progress as a natural disaster, uber as walmart in sheep's clothing, cabbies' right to economic survival, the idea of guaranteed living wages, the problem with jobs, cabbies' anti-blackness, how race complicates our relationship to this issue, protesting as "PR", and more."



"uber users who see protesting cabbies as luddites fighting an already-lost war against a superior technology are missing the point

if technological progress really is like a natural disaster — faceless, inexorable, amoral — shouldn't we protect those dispossessed by it

the point isn't to reverse progress, the point is to protect a vulnerable class of workers amid a major technological shift

yes the traditional taxi system sucked, but that doesn't absolve us of responsibility, especially when we back-burnered the warning signs

cabbies' demands for taxi reform were ignored to the point of crisis — now we patronizingly inform them that 'lack of reform' is the culprit

why are we okay with consigning our cabbies to poverty & obsolescence? because the better tech 'deserves' the win? even over human lives?

it's the canadian way — squeeze immigrants (cab drivers, international students, chinese railroad workers) & then flick them off our fingers

maybe one day we can live in a world where everything is so efficient & convenient that all humans except tech CEOs are destitute

if the tech is going to put 11,000 torontonians' livehihoods at risk, it's not that they aren't ready — it's that the tech isn't ready

@torontodan @pangmeli That's why many techies/futurists also tend to be "basic income" proponents. We know autonomous tech coming very soon

nice point from @_divyeshM — if we want to let technology loose so badly, let's demand a guaranteed living wage https://twitter.com/_DivyeshM/status/674635351001010176

…"
uber  disruption  2015  economics  universalbasicincome  toronto  labor  race  walmart  jobs  taxis  technology  dispossessed  displacement  canada  responsibility  society  capitalism  obsolescence  vulnerability  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | Thoughts in the Presence of Fear
"I. The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and economic optimism that ended on that day.

II. This optimism rested on the proposition that we were living in a “new world order” and a “new economy” that would “grow” on and on, bringing a prosperity of which every new increment would be “unprecedented”.

III. The dominant politicians, corporate officers, and investors who believed this proposition did not acknowledge that the prosperity was limited to a tiny percent of the world’s people, and to an ever smaller number of people even in the United States; that it was founded upon the oppressive labor of poor people all over the world; and that its ecological costs increasingly threatened all life, including the lives of the supposedly prosperous.

IV. The “developed” nations had given to the “free market” the status of a god, and were sacrificing to it their farmers, farmlands, and communities, their forests, wetlands, and prairies, their ecosystems and watersheds. They had accepted universal pollution and global warming as normal costs of doing business.

V. There was, as a consequence, a growing worldwide effort on behalf of economic decentralization, economic justice, and ecological responsibility. We must recognize that the events of September 11 make this effort more necessary than ever. We citizens of the industrial countries must continue the labor of self-criticism and self-correction. We must recognize our mistakes.

VI. The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to “grow” and make everything better and better. This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free. All things superseded in our progress of innovations, whatever their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all.

VII. We did not anticipate anything like what has now happened. We did not foresee that all our sequence of innovations might be at once overridden by a greater one: the invention of a new kind of war that would turn our previous innovations against us, discovering and exploiting the debits and the dangers that we had ignored. We never considered the possibility that we might be trapped in the webwork of communication and transport that was supposed to make us free.

VIII. Nor did we foresee that the weaponry and the war science that we marketed and taught to the world would become available, not just to recognized national governments, which possess so uncannily the power to legitimate large-scale violence, but also to “rogue nations”, dissident or fanatical groups and individuals – whose violence, though never worse than that of nations, is judged by the nations to be illegitimate.

IX. We had accepted uncritically the belief that technology is only good; that it cannot serve evil as well as good; that it cannot serve our enemies as well as ourselves; that it cannot be used to destroy what is good, including our homelands and our lives.

X. We had accepted too the corollary belief that an economy (either as a money economy or as a life-support system) that is global in extent, technologically complex, and centralized is invulnerable to terrorism, sabotage, or war, and that it is protectable by “national defense”

XI. We now have a clear, inescapable choice that we must make. We can continue to promote a global economic system of unlimited “free trade” among corporations, held together by long and highly vulnerable lines of communication and supply, but now recognizing that such a system will have to be protected by a hugely expensive police force that will be worldwide, whether maintained by one nation or several or all, and that such a police force will be effective precisely to the extent that it oversways the freedom and privacy of the citizens of every nation.

XII. Or we can promote a decentralized world economy which would have the aim of assuring to every nation and region a local self-sufficiency in life-supporting goods. This would not eliminate international trade, but it would tend toward a trade in surpluses after local needs had been met.

XIII. One of the gravest dangers to us now, second only to further terrorist attacks against our people, is that we will attempt to go on as before with the corporate program of global “free trade”, whatever the cost in freedom and civil rights, without self-questioning or self-criticism or public debate.

XIV. This is why the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a temptation in a national crisis, must be resisted by officials and citizens alike. It is hard for ordinary citizens to know what is actually happening in Washington in a time of such great trouble; for all we know, serious and difficult thought may be taking place there. But the talk that we are hearing from politicians, bureaucrats, and commentators has so far tended to reduce the complex problems now facing us to issues of unity, security, normality, and retaliation.

XV. National self-righteousness, like personal self-righteousness, is a mistake. It is misleading. It is a sign of weakness. Any war that we may make now against terrorism will come as a new installment in a history of war in which we have fully participated. We are not innocent of making war against civilian populations. The modern doctrine of such warfare was set forth and enacted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, who held that a civilian population could be declared guilty and rightly subjected to military punishment. We have never repudiated that doctrine.

XVI. It is a mistake also – as events since September 11 have shown – to suppose that a government can promote and participate in a global economy and at the same time act exclusively in its own interest by abrogating its international treaties and standing apart from international cooperation on moral issues.

XVII. And surely, in our country, under our Constitution, it is a fundamental error to suppose that any crisis or emergency can justify any form of political oppression. Since September 11, far too many public voices have presumed to “speak for us” in saying that Americans will gladly accept a reduction of freedom in exchange for greater “security”. Some would, maybe. But some others would accept a reduction in security (and in global trade) far more willingly than they would accept any abridgement of our Constitutional rights.

XVIII. In a time such as this, when we have been seriously and most cruelly hurt by those who hate us, and when we must consider ourselves to be gravely threatened by those same people, it is hard to speak of the ways of peace and to remember that Christ enjoined us to love our enemies, but this is no less necessary for being difficult.

XIX. Even now we dare not forget that since the attack of Pearl Harbor – to which the present attack has been often and not usefully compared – we humans have suffered an almost uninterrupted sequence of wars, none of which has brought peace or made us more peaceable.

XX. The aim and result of war necessarily is not peace but victory, and any victory won by violence necessarily justifies the violence that won it and leads to further violence. If we are serious about innovation, must we not conclude that we need something new to replace our perpetual “war to end war?”

XXI. What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being. We should recognize that while we have extravagantly subsidized the means of war, we have almost totally neglected the ways of peaceableness. We have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace academy. We have ignored the teachings and the examples of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peaceable leaders. And here we have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money.

XXII. The key to peaceableness is continuous practice. It is wrong to suppose that we can exploit and impoverish the poorer countries, while arming them and instructing them in the newest means of war, and then reasonably expect them to be peaceable.

XXIII. We must not again allow public emotion or the public media to caricature our enemies. If our enemies are now to be some nations of Islam, then we should undertake to know those enemies. Our schools should begin to teach the histories, cultures, arts, and language of the Islamic nations. And our leaders should have the humility and the wisdom to ask the reasons some of those people have for hating us.

XXIV. Starting with the economies of food and farming, we should promote at home, and encourage abroad, the ideal of local self-sufficiency. We should recognize that this is the surest, the safest, and the cheapest way for the world to live. We should not countenance the loss or destruction of any local capacity to produce necessary goods.

XXV. We should reconsider and renew and extend our efforts to protect the natural foundations of the human economy: soil, water, and air. We should protect every intact ecosystem and watershed that we have left, and begin restoration of those that have been damaged.

XXVI. The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It’s proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now … [more]
via:anne  education  capitalism  economics  wendellberry  peace  war  terrorism  consumerism  food  farming  sustainability  9/11  violence  humanism  environment  children  parenting  responsibility  military  self-sufficiency  technology  technosolutionism  progress  innovation  nature  decentralization  newworldorder  growth  degrowth  prosperity  labor  work  poverty  freemarket  business  corporatism  freetrade  vulnerability  freedom  civilrights  government  security  peaceableness  islam  soil  air  water  thrift  care  caring  saving  conservation  agriculture 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Kurt Hahn - Wikipedia
"Six Declines of Modern Youth

1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];
2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis;
3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers;
6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death".

Hahn not only pointed out the decline of modern youth, he also came up with four antidotes to fix the problem.

1. Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one's self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)
2. Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)
3. Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)
4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

*****

Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
These 10 principles, which seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning, were drawn[by whom?] from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders[which?] for use in Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) schools.[citation needed]

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

3. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.

8. The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches[clarification needed] the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others.

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."
kurthahn  outwardbound  education  experience  experientialeducation  youth  self-discovery  service  compassion  solitude  reflection  nature  diversity  inclusion  collaboration  competition  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility  learning  howwelearn  thinking  criticalthinking  fitness  initiative  motivation  skills  care  projectbasedlearning  inlcusivity  inclusivity  experientiallearning 
september 2015 by robertogreco
A Guide to Grounding Helicopter Parents
"Considering things like school websites, where parents can track grades, are schools actually enabling helicopter parents – and hurting students’ chances to be independent?

Because Lythcott-Haim’s book inspired Anna’s question, I thought she’d be a great person to field it. Some of her responses have been edited for length.

Lythcott-Haims: School leaders and teachers are in a really tough spot these days, particularly in communities where parents are used to doing a lot of hand-holding for their children and exerting influence. Still, I agree with Anna that yes, in many ways they’ve become enablers of overparenting behaviors and are inhibiting opportunities for kids to develop independence – such as the example of the principal setting the independence bar for his middle-schoolers absurdly low.

Middle-schoolers can handle things far more challenging than packing their own backpack. Take registration – reviewing the forms, signing them and turning them in. Middle-schoolers can handle that, and they probably should, particularly if we want them to be capable of handling it when they’re in high school, or college.

When my eldest began middle school, I caved to the overparenting mindset by filling out the forms and going to registration with him, which meant standing in long lines with hundreds of other parents doing the same. (The lines were so long, in part, because an excessive number of people were there instead of just the new middle-schoolers). When my second child was starting middle school two years later, I’d learned my lesson. She filled out the forms, asked me and her dad for signatures as needed and went off to registration by herself. The point is, life is full of bureaucracy and our kids have to learn to navigate it.

In terms of counteracting overparenting instead of enabling it, I’ve seen progress at the level of the individual teacher (who, for example, might announce at Back to School Night that parental involvement in homework is absolutely not allowed and a child’s grade will be docked a few points if there’s evidence of any such thing). But in my view, the bolder step would be adopting a school-wide and even district-wide philosophy that proclaims that part of getting an education is taking responsibility and being accountable for one’s own actions, and that as a result, parents doing things kids should be able to do for themselves is highly discouraged and might even be penalized (e.g. completing homework and projects, bringing homework and lunch to school, talking with teachers about the course material and concerns over grades).

MK: How do “parent portals” or school websites factor into over-parenting?

Lythcott-Haims: Parents obsessively checking the school website/portal isn’t good for the teacher, child or parent. Yes, the portal can deliver information quickly when we need it. The question we must ask ourselves as parents is, how frequently do we really need that information? Like the ability to track our children via GPS at all moments, just because the technology is there doesn’t mean we should use it all the time. …

Obsessively checking up on our kids’ performance means we then end up talking with our kids about their academic performance on a weekly or even daily basis – which sends a rather insidious message that their worth and value to us is based on grades – instead of what they’re learning and enjoying about school. Instead of building a relationship of trust with our kids where we’d expect them to inform us when they are struggling or need help, it erodes trust, raises anxiety and makes our kids feel that every single homework assignment or quiz is a “make or break” moment for their entire future.

As for me, I refuse to look at the online portal. I’m fine with a quarterly report. I expect my kids to update me as needed, and if they don’t, and it turns out there’s a greater consequence such as failing a class, I accept that that’s a part of childhood and something we’ll just have to work through when that time comes. To me, the developmental benefits to my kids that come from having greater autonomy, privacy and personal responsibility are more important than whatever short-term “win” I could achieve by trying to fix every micro-moment of imperfection."
parenting  helicopterparents  helicopterparenting  2015  mariokoran  children  schools  education  autonomy  independence  julielythcott-haims  responsibility  privacy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Problem With Grit - Learning Deeply - Education Week
"In recent years, Angela Duckworth's work around "grit" has been widely taken up in school reform circles as a way of thinking about building students "non-cognitive skills," which are presumably critical for later life success.

As with any concept that gains popularity, there have been detractors. The most prominent critique is that an emphasis on grit is a way of "blaming the victim"--rather than take up larger questions of social, economic, and racial justice, if only the most disadvantaged kids were a little "grittier" they could make it in life. I am sympathetic to this critique, but I also understand why schools and parents would want to focus on the variables they can control, and thus see building students' abilities to persevere and respond to adversity as critical in their success.

Today I want to raise a different sort of critique, one which has actionable consequences for schools that are interested in work around grit. And that is that a focus on grit is taking a heavily impoverished view of human motivation; in the long run, most people do not persevere at things because they are good at persevering, they persevere because they find things that are worth investing in. The implication for schools is that they should spend less time trying to boost students' grit, and more time trying to think about how their offerings could help students develop purpose and passion.

One good starting point for this discussion is Benjamin Bloom's 1985 book, Developing Talent in Young People. Bloom retrospectively studied people who by their early twenties had achieved considerable success in their fields--Carnegie Hall pianists, Olympic swimmers, among other fields. In a recent talk at Harvard, Duckworth cited this study as an example of the role of grit in producing exceptional practice. But the book actually tells a much more ecological story of how these people developed: the swimmers, for example, began by playing in the pool when they were little, then they became part of local swim clubs and swim teams, then somewhere between 8 and 12 their identities shifted from "I'm someone who swims" to "I'm a swimmer," then there was a long period of deliberate practice, a shift from local coaches to regional and eventual national coaches, and finally another period of play, this time at a much more sophisticated level.

You can see in this trajectory a mix of formal and informal learning, individual fortitude, and becoming part of a community of practice. And, for most of these folks, as is true for many who have become real experts in a domain, intrinsic motivation and identity as someone who cares about the domain is more important than sheer stick-to-it-iveness; and success and increasing mastery provides its own reward which in turn motivates more effort and engagement. Boiling that down to "grit" seems certainly reductionist and potentially highly misleading, in that the implications of the grit argument would be more about boosting perseverance, whereas the more holistic view would show how institutional environments can and should be shaped to create opportunities for growth and mastery.

Relatedly, if you spend a lot of time in classrooms, you will see why national surveys continue to report that 70 percent of high school students see themselves as bored or disengaged. Many classes are terribly unengaging places, with lots of worksheets and little connection to an authentic purpose. The places where many of these schools seem most alive are actually in their extracurriculars--in plays, musical performances, student newspapers--where students have the opportunity to connect to a real domain, where there are opportunities for repetition and practice, but where it is linked to an adult world that students want to emulate and join. The best disciplinary classes have the same characteristics--students are learning how to be historians, thinking like mathematicians, doing real world projects--but these are relatively few and far between. There are two ways to see this situation: 1) that students in most contemporary classes should increase their grit and perseverance; or 2) that many classes need to be made more interesting and engaging places that are more connected to authentic purposes. While some might subscribe to the eat-your-broccoli theory of school reform, I tend to think that, in the long run, schools will be more successful if they are places that students would actually want to attend.

While grit gets all the play in school reform circles, it is not actually the leading theory of motivation among psychologists. The most well-known scholarship on motivation is actually Edward Deci and Richard Ryan's "self-determination theory," which synthesized decades of research to argue that people are fundamentally seeking autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and that they thrive in environments that enable them to maximize these qualities. Research on (and experience with) adolescents also suggests that they are particularly developmentally primed to explore their individual identities (autonomy), take on roles where they can assume responsibility (competence), and have opportunities to connect and work with others (relatedness).

Most high schools are organized in ways that run directly against these needs: students are expected to sit passively, assimilate the thinking of others, work individually, and are rarely given opportunities to take significant responsibility either for others or for their own learning. Not surprisingly, some of the schools that are most known for "deeper learning" in the Hewlett Foundation networks and elsewhere feature heavy doses of project- or problem-based methods, stances that create opportunities for students to exercise autonomy, develop competence, and work within communities of practice.

One interesting wrinkle of self-determination theory is that it does not rely exclusively on intrinsic motivation. The theory acknowledges that as people set goals they are seeking to pursue, or work in fields in which they are developing competence and capacity, there will frequently be tasks that are not intrinsically enjoyable but are necessary as part of the larger goal. Thus to say that schooling needs to create more opportunities for authentic engagement and opportunities for students to grow towards mastery is not to deny the reality that there are some basic things to be learned and some portion of this learning will be tedious and dull. But the key, as was true for the practice of the Olympic swimmers or Carnegie Hall pianists, is that the learner is willing to accept this tradeoff as necessary for a larger objective which s/he does feel is worth achieving.

Pushing grit is the easy way out. It not only enables us to bypass harder conversations about structural inequalities, it also frees us from thinking harder about whether basic elements of the "grammar" of schooling need to be rethought. Young people show grit all the time - they pick themselves up after losses on the playing field, retake the stage after flubbing their lines, continue to search for love after having their hearts broken. What these experiences have in common is that there is something they are seeking, something that they are hoping to attain. Our goal should be to organize schooling in ways that similarly promote the kind of purpose and meaning that will sustain students' commitment when the going gets tough."
grit  jalmehta  2015  education  schools  angeladuckworth  benjaminbloom  perseverance  curriculum  fortitude  practice  motivation  psychology  mastery  growth  edwarddeci  richardryan  self-determination  self-determinationtheory  autonomy  competence  relatedness  responsibility  deschooling  unschooling  projectbasedlearning 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Best Charities to Donate to [from The Life You Can Save]
"Join The Fight Against Extreme Poverty

Choosing a highly effective charity is challenging.
Our recommended charities below are proven to do great work and give donors "bang for their buck.""



"Our Mission

The Life You Can Save is an organization founded by the philosopher Peter Singer and based on the basic tenet of Effective Altruism: leading an ethical life involves using a portion of personal wealth and resources to efficiently alleviate the effects of extreme poverty.

The Life You Can Save enhances and supports the Effective Altruism movement. Through public outreach, we provide information about and promote community participation in activities that reduce extreme poverty and its consequences. We also recommend charities that are highly impactful and cost-effective in doing the most good.

Our Vision

We will champion the cause of giving in order to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us, and we will spread knowledge of what we all can do to reduce poverty. We will encourage people to publicly pledge a percentage of their income to highly effective aid organizations. We acknowledge that every person's pledge will reflect their personal best commitment, and we will support donors in striving to improve upon their commitment.

The majority of us agree: if we could easily save the life of a child, we would. If saving a drowning child meant simply wading into a shallow pond and pulling the child out, we would not hesitate to take this action. The fact that we would get wet or ruin a good suit would not outweigh the act of saving a child's life.

UNICEF estimates that 17,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Yet almost a billion people live very comfortable lives, with money to spare for many things that are not vital to survival. When did you last spend money on something to drink, when drinkable water was available for nothing?

The Life You Can Save seeks to change this disparity.

World-renowned philosopher Peter Singer educates the public on effective philanthropy and his work strives to bring about a new paradigm for donating in the developed world. With the publication of his book The Life You Can Save in 2009, Peter founded this organization of the same name to spread and make practical the central ideas of the book.

The Life You Can Save is part of a broader movement known as the Effective Altruism movement. Effective Altruists are individuals who devote a significant part of their life to improving the world as effectively as they can. The Effective Altruism movement is young, but growing steadily and we welcome the day when Effective Altruism is a commonly recognizable lifestyle choice.

We at The Life You Can Save endeavor to change the culture of philanthropy by making giving to help the needy a societal expectation and qualifier for a moral and just life. We want unnecessary luxuries to become anti-status symbols. We want the idea of who is in your community, and therefore deserving of your help, to expand beyond your immediate family, friends and geographical region to include the entire world. And we want people to think carefully about where they give so that they can help the world's poorest as much as possible with their donations.

As Peter Singer argues in his book, if everyone who can afford to contribute to reducing extreme poverty were to give a modest portion of their income to effective development charities, extreme poverty would be eliminated.

In pursuit of these developments in popular thinking, we are working to spread our message through public outreach, through the proliferation of local groups of informed givers and through a global online community. We provide information and tools for people to make a public pledge about their giving. We support those who are not yet ready to pledge by inviting them to participate in our community and the Effective Altruism movement. We keep abreast of and share the latest news about issues surrounding philanthropy, global poverty and charity cost-effectiveness."

[See also: Peter Singer vs Stephen Colbert
http://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/Learn-More/Peter-Singer-vs-Stephen-Colbert ]
petersinger  charities  ethics  philanthropy  altruism  charity  thelifeyoucansave  poverty  inequality  wealth  responsibility  selfishness 
july 2015 by robertogreco
'Care for Our Common Home': Taking Up the Moral Challenge of Pope Francis – Blog – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
"The normalisation of liberal individualism and the unsustainable form of prosperity on which the West has so long relied are, of course, the crowning achievements of what Luigino Bruni calls the "grand 'immunizing' project of modernity." But this project did not simply clear away the tyranny of inherited privilege, thereby returning individuals to themselves and their own acquisitive desires. Instead, this immunity from our obligations to others - what John Rawls more prosaically called the "mutual disinterest" constitutive of the social contract - involved the radical renunciation of the munus: that obliging gift which forms the basis of the social bond that is at the heart of communitas.

In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II captured the essence of this gift in a simple, wondrous sentence: "God entrusts us to one another." Once this munus is renounced, what follows is a hollowed out form of social life, a debased, erstaz community in which, "Everyone else is considered an enemy from whom one has to defend oneself. Thus society becomes a mass of individuals placed side by side, but without any mutual bonds. Each one wishes to assert himself independently of the other and in fact intends to make his own interests prevail."

(It is worth pointing out in passing that Pope Francis and John Paul II find an unlikely ally in Julian Savulescu, who shares their critique of the failure of liberalism to produce the kind of citizens that are willing make decisions for the good of others, especially when doing so would run counter to self-interest and immediate benefit: "This restraint of self-interest is the very opposite of the unrestrained satisfaction of it made possible by industrialization and its profusion of material goods, which brought liberal democracy into existence. Liberal democracy has so far been a politics of prosperity, and this induces doubt whether it could turn into a politics of parsimony, voluntary restraint, and decreasing welfare." As a result, Savulescu warns, "contemporary liberal democracies are in the danger of being too liberal to last.")

The great achievement of Pope Francis's encyclical is the way it explicitly deepens and extends the scope of that which has been entrusted to us: our shared environment; the wellbeing of those near and far; the wellbeing of future generations. The language of gift and of what is in common pervades the encyclical, and at once condemns the interpersonal and political indifference that has held sway over the "climate change debate" and exposes the inadequacy of purely technocratic solutions to the problem of environmental degradation.

Implicated in the pope's critique of both interpersonal indifference and a kind of technophilic solutionism is the way that social media cultivates a feeling of concern and even ethical responsibility, all the while shielding us from any real commitment to others."



"For Francis, there is simply no substitute for the recovery of a sense of deep moral obligation - of what he calls at the end of the encyclical "generous commitment" - through which we will then joyfully constrain our behaviour and redefine those benefits to which we feel we are entitled. This is particularly clear when Francis addresses the debilitating political problem of how to galvanise public support for an intergenerational problem like climate change. As Stephen Gardiner has examined at considerable length, the problem is not only that the benefits of carbon pollution are enjoyed by the present generation while the deleterious effects (or "costs") are deferred to some future generation; the iterative nature of the problem ensures that "each new generation will face the same incentive structure as soon as it gains the power to decide whether or not to act."

This, it would seem, is the brute reality behind the myth of progress, and a powerful illustration of C.S. Lewis's extraordinarily prescient claim in his 1943 book The Abolition of Man (which is a favourite of Benedict XVI, interestingly enough). Lewis was, of course, fiercely critical of that heroic liberal narrative of the " progressive emancipation from tradition and a progressive control of natural processes resulting in a continual increase of human power.""
popefrancis  2015  laudatosi'  morality  christianity  luiginobruni  modernity  capitalism  interdependence  johnrawls  juliansavulescu  popejohnpaulii  scottstephens  normawirzba  clivehamilton  celiadeane-drummond  charlescamosy  michaelstafford  via:anne  religion  climatechange  ecology  economics  technosolutionism  anthropocene  antropocentrism  individualism  generations  internet  relationships  inequality  power  cslewis  progress  technology  stephengardner  interpersonal  indifference  empathy  responsibility  socialmedia  concern  commitment 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Which is the cleanest city in the world? | Cities | The Guardian
"Fines, public humiliation and citizen action – every city has a different way of dealing with urban cleanliness. But is it community clean-ups or strict municipal laws that have the most success in making a city spotless?"



"There are less punitive ways to be clean and tidy, however. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, seems to have achieved a clean and litter-free environment without the threat of harsh fines. Not on any of Mercer’s lists, modern Kigali isn’t exactly beautiful. It rises up on a tree-covered slope and is mainly built of concrete, but the level of upkeep is extraordinary.

Indeed, the city’s roundabouts are so well-swept and the grass so well-maintained that wedding couples sprint across the traffic to be photographed in the middle of them. Unusually, this has been achieved not through punishment, but by the principle of Umuganda. This word has many meanings relating to “community” and “payment”, and dates back before Rwanda was part of Belgium’s African empire.

In the 19th century, a number visitors recorded that Rwandans were required to work two days a week for their community leader and during Belgian rule Umuganda was encouraged as a way of bolstering civic responsibility. In the years before the 1994 genocide, President Juvénal Habyarimana emphasised it as part of his concept of “true” Rwandan identity. “True Rwandans” provided free labour for state-led projects like school building, road works, the construction of sanitation facilities and digging of anti-erosion ditches. Unfortunately Habyarimana’s true Rwandans, by extension, also belonged to the Hutu tribe, and Umuganda eventually became caught up in ideas of racial purity.

After taking office in 2000, President Paul Kagame harnessed Umuganda to help clean up his gun and shell-strewn capital, as well as to promote the idea of a cohesive national identity through communal projects. Under Kagame, Umuganda was formalised as a collective event on the last Saturday in each month when traffic – including airport taxis – is stopped for three hours in the morning, and the city comes together to tidy up. This can be problematic if you have a flight to catch. This day is called umunsi w’umuganda (contribution made by the community) and all able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 65 are required by law to participate. The knock-on effect of such conscientious cleaning up is, of course, that people are less inclined to drop litter in the first place."



"So, if Singapore is proof that cleanliness can be achieved by legislation, Kigali and Dar es Salaam are definitely proof that motivation and communal spirit can work as well. Calgary, on the other hand, falls somewhere between the two. It’s also the least interesting of the three cities to visit – but that’s a whole other list.

Finally one has to ask, does it matter? Last year a Ugandan looking at Kigali told me wistfully that Kampala used to be as pristine as Kigali: “Why can’t we keep our capital clean and tidy anymore?”

So, if you live there I think it matters, very much."
cities  uban  urbanism  rwanda  umuganda  community  civics  responsibility  civicresponsibility  kigali  kampala  uganda  daressalaam  communalism  communalspirit  tanzania  singapore  via:anabjain  cleanliness  litter  calgary  zurich  adelaide  honolulu  minneapolis  kobe  tidiness  china  paulkagame 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Be Kind
"I almost got fired once.

My friend, and CTO at the time, Dustin Moskovitz pulled me into a room one morning. He told me I would no longer be working on News Feed, which was surprising because at the time I was the only engineer keeping it running. Instead they were going to hand it off to someone else and build a team around that person. With alarm in my voice I asked if I was being fired. Dustin relented only after a telling pause: “no, but you need to find something else to do."

I believe if you looked at what I had accomplished in my two years at Facebook to that point, it would not be obvious that I should be a candidate for such a stern conversation. In addition to building the backend and ranking for News Feed I had also launched a number of other popular features on the site. I maintained our early anti-abuse efforts in my spare time. I was one of a small group of people making decisions that would shape our infrastructure for years to come. I wasn’t the best engineer at the company but I was solid, I was dedicated, and I was clearly having an impact.

So why was I being sidelined? I demanded answers. Dustin did not disappoint.

He gave me a single sheet of paper. On it, in a dull monospace font, were anonymous quotes about me from my coworkers.
“Boz is one of the better engineers at Facebook” one read, and then the next "I would have a hard time working with him."

These two statements struck me as incongruous. If I was a good engineer, why would it be hard to work with me? Of course that question was the very foundation of my problem.
“He is most interested in the truth…but more inhibited members of the team avoid any discussions with him."

The realization hit me hard. In short, I thought my job was to be right. I thought that was how I proved my worth to the company. But that was all wrong. My job was to get things done and doing anything meaningful past a certain point requires more than one person. If you are right but nobody wants to work with you, then how valuable are you really? How much can you realistically expect to accomplish on your own? I was “winning” my way out of a job one argument at a time.

I headed home early that day to think about what I had heard. My future wife April was gentle but she offered me little reprieve from the feedback: “If you want people to work with you, you need to be kind.” It turns out this wasn’t just a problem I had at work. Looking back, I’m amazed (and grateful) that my friends put up with me.

Altogether this feedback changed the course of my career and probably my life.

I don’t think I was ever outright mean to anyone. I was just callously indifferent and on a long enough timeline that is indistinguishable from being mean. In a cruel twist of irony I thought that was what it meant to be professional. In retrospect it just seems inhuman. It will take me several posts to details the many mistakes that got me to this point, but my biggest lesson was the importance of kindness.

Being kind isn’t the same as being nice. It isn’t about superficial praise. It doesn’t mean dulling your opinions. And it shouldn’t diminish the passion with which you present them.

Being kind is fundamentally about taking responsibility for your impact on the people around you. It requires you be mindful of their feelings and considerate of the way your presence affects them.

Being kind hasn’t hurt my effectiveness at all. Being thoughtful about the emotions of my colleagues hasn’t made me any less right or wrong, it has simply made me more likely to be asked to help in the first place. Being invited to more conversations has allowed me to scale my impact in a way that would have been unfathomable on my own.

I’m still not as good as I’d like to be at any of this. When I’m under stress I can sometimes fall back into my old habits. But believing deeply that I am responsible for how I make others feel has been life changing for me. Being kind turns out to be a long term strategy for maximizing impact."
kindness  andrewbosworth  advice  facebook  management  careers  social  via:kissane  2015  responsibility  howwework  truth  indifference  meanness  humanism  humans  interpersonal  socialemotional  thoughfulness  emotions  socialemotionallearning 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The male suicides: how social perfectionism kills | Mosaic
"Impulsivity, brooding rumination, low serotonin, poor social problem-solving abilities – there are many vulnerabilities that can heighten the risk of suicide. Professor Rory O’Connor, President of the International Academy of Suicide Research, has been studying the psychological processes behind self-inflicted death for over 20 years.

“Did you see the news?” he asks when I meet him. The morning’s papers are carrying the latest numbers: 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK in 2013. While the female suicide rate has remained roughly constant since 2007, that for men is at its highest since 2001. Nearly eight in ten of all suicides are male – a figure that has been rising for over three decades. In 2013, if you were a man between the ages of 20 and 49 who’d died, the most likely cause was not assault nor car crash nor drug abuse nor heart attack, but a decision that you didn’t wish to live any more.

In every country in the world, male suicides outnumber female. The mystery is why? What is it about being male that leads to this? Why, at least in the UK, are middle-aged men most at risk? And why is it getting worse?

Those who study suicide, or work for mental health charities, are keen to press upon the curious that there’s rarely, if ever, a single factor that leads to any self-inflicted death and that mental illness, most commonly depression, usually precedes such an event. “But the really important point is, most people with depression don’t kill themselves,” O’Connor tells me. “Less than 5 per cent do. So mental illness is not an explanation. For me, the decision to kill yourself is a psychological phenomenon. What we’re trying to do in the lab here is understand the psychology of the suicidal mind.”

We’re sitting in O’Connor’s office on the grounds of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. Through the window, the University of Glasgow’s spire rises into a dreich sky. Paintings by his two children are stuck to a corkboard – an orange monster, a red telephone. Hiding in the cupboard, a grim book collection: Comprehending Suicide; By Their Own Young Hands; Kay Redfield Jamison’s classic memoir of madness, An Unquiet Mind.

O’Connor’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab works with survivors in hospitals, assessing them within 24 hours of an attempt and tracking how they fare afterwards. It also carries out experimental studies, testing hypotheses on matters such as pain tolerance in suicidal people and changes in cognition following brief induced periods of stress.

After years of study, O’Connor found something about suicidal minds that surprised him. It’s called social perfectionism. And it might help us understand why men kill themselves in such numbers."



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you tend to identify closely with the roles and responsibilities you believe you have in life. “It’s not about what you expect of yourself,” O’Connor explains. “It’s what you think other people expect. You’ve let others down because you’ve failed to be a good father or a good brother – whatever it is.”

Because it’s a judgement on other people’s imagined judgements of you, it can be especially toxic. “It’s nothing to do with what those people actually think of you,” he says. “It’s what you think they expect. The reason it’s so problematic is that it’s outside your control.”

O’Connor first came across social perfectionism in studies of American university students. “I thought it wouldn’t be applicable in a UK context and that it certainly wouldn’t be applicable to people from really difficult backgrounds. Well, it is. It’s a remarkably robust effect. We’ve looked at it in the context of the most disadvantaged areas of Glasgow.” It began in 2003 with an initial study that looked at 22 people who had recently attempted suicide, as well as a control group, and assessed them using a 15-question quiz that measures agreement with statements such as “Success means that I must work even harder to please others” and “People expect nothing less than perfection from me”. “We’ve found this relationship between social perfectionism and suicidality in all populations where we’ve done the work,” says O’Connor, “including among the disadvantaged and the affluent.”

What’s not yet known is why. “Our hypothesis is that people who are social perfectionist are much more sensitive to signals of failure in the environment,” he says.

I ask if this is about perceived failure to fulfil roles, and what roles men feel they should fill? Father? Bread-winner?

“Now there’s this change in society,” O’Connor replies, “you have to be Mr Metrosexual too. There are all these greater expectations – more opportunities for men to feel like failures.”"



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you’ll have unusually high expectations of yourself. Your self-esteem will be dangerously dependent on maintaining a sometimes impossible level of success. When you’re defeated, you’ll collapse.

But social perfectionists aren’t unique in identifying closely with their goals, roles and aspirations. Psychology professor Brian Little, of the University of Cambridge, is well known for his research on ‘personal projects’. He believes we can identify so closely with them that they become part of our very sense of self. “You are your personal projects,” he used to tell his Harvard class.

According to Little, there are different kinds of projects, which carry different loads of value. Walking the dog is a personal project but so is becoming a headteacher in a lovely village, and so is being a successful father and husband. Surprisingly, how meaningful our projects are is thought to contribute to our wellbeing only slightly. What makes the crucial difference to how happy they make us is whether or not they’re accomplishable.

But what happens when our personal projects begin to fall apart? How do we cope? And is there a gender difference that might give a clue to why so many men kill themselves?

There is. It’s generally assumed that men, to their detriment, often find it hard to talk about their emotional difficulties. This has also been found to be true when it comes to discussing their faltering projects. “Women benefit from making visible their projects and their challenges in pursuing them,” Little writes, in his book Me, Myself and Us, “whereas men benefit from keeping that to themselves.”

In a study of people in senior management positions, Little uncovered another salient gender difference. “A clear differentiator is that, for men, the most important thing is to not confront impedance,” he tells me. “They’re primarily motivated to charge ahead. It’s a clear-the-decks kind of mentality. The women are more concerned about an organisational climate in which they’re connected with others. You can extrapolate that, I think, to areas of life beyond the office. I don’t want to perpetrate stereotypes but the data here seem pretty clear.”

Additional support for this comes from a highly influential 2000 paper, by a team lead by Professor Shelley Taylor at UCLA, that looked at bio-behavioural responses to stress. They found that while men tend to exhibit the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response, women are more likely to use ‘tend and befriend’. “Although women might think about suicide very seriously,” says Little, “because of their social connectedness, they may also think, ‘My God, what will my kids do? What will my mum think?’ So there’s forbearance from completing the act.” As for the men, death could be seen as the ultimate form of ‘flight’.

But that deadly form of flight takes determination. Dr Thomas Joiner, of Florida State University, has studied differences between people who think about suicide and those who actually act on their desire for death. “You can’t act unless you also develop a fearlessness of death,” he says. “And that’s the part I think is relevant to gender differences.” Joiner describes his large collection of security footage and police videos showing people who “desperately want to kill themselves and then, at the last minute, they flinch because it’s so scary. The flinch ends up saving their lives.” So is the idea men are less likely to flinch? “Exactly.”

But it’s also true, in most Western countries, that more women attempt suicide than men. One reason a higher number of males actually die is their choice of method. While men tend towards hanging or guns, women more often reach for pills. Martin Seager, a clinical psychologist and consultant to the Samaritans, believes this fact demonstrates that men have greater suicidal intent. “The method reflects the psychology,” he says. Daniel Freeman, of the University of Oxford’s department of psychiatry, has pointed to a study of 4,415 patients who had been at hospital following an episode of self-harm; it found significantly higher suicidal intent in the men than the women. But the hypothesis remains largely uninvestigated. “I don’t think it’s been shown definitively at all,” he says. “But then it would be incredibly difficult to show.”

For O’Connor, too, the intent question remains open. “I’m unaware of any decent studies that have looked at it because it’s really difficult to do,” he says. But Seager is convinced. “For men, I think of suicide as an execution,” he says. “A man is removing himself from the world. It’s a sense of enormous failure and shame. The masculine gender feels they’re responsible for providing and protecting others and for being successful. When a woman becomes unemployed, it’s painful, but she doesn’t feel like she’s lost her sense of identity or femininity. When a man loses his work he feels he’s not a man.”

It’s a notion echoed by the celebrated psychologist Professor Roy Baumeister, whose theory of suicide as ‘escape from the self’ has been an important influence on O’Connor. “A… [more]
suicide  men  via:anne  2015  perfectionism  roryo'connor  middleage  behavior  impulsivity  rumination  serotonin  socialperfectionism  responsibility  responsibilities  society  failure  judgement  urbanization  success  self-esteem  socialesteem  pressure  stress  gender  manhood  roybaumeister  martinseager  thomasjoiner  shelleytaylor  brianlittle  self-concept  korea  china  us  uk  kayredfieldjamison 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Refugees don’t need our tears. They need us to stop making them refugees | Anders Lustgarten | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Migration illustrates one of the signal features of modern life, which is malice by proxy. Like drones and derivatives, migration policy allows the powerful to inflict horrors on the powerless without getting their hands dirty. James Brokenshire, the minister who defended cutting Mare Nostrum on the nauseatingly hypocritical grounds that it encouraged migration, never has to let the deaths his decision helped to cause spoil his expensive lunch with lobbyists. It doesn’t affect him.

But it does affect us. Right now we are a diminished and reduced society, bristling with suspicion and distrust of others even as we perversely struggle with loneliness and alienation. We breathe the toxic smog of hatred towards immigrants pumped out by Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins, and it makes us lesser people.

Forget the fact that this society wouldn’t work without migrants, that nobody else will pick your vegetables and make your latte and get up at 4am to clean your office. Forget the massive tax contribution made by migrants to the Treasury. This is not about economics. Far too often, even the positive takes on migration are driven by numbers and finance, by “What can they do for us?”. This is about two things: compassion and responsibility.

Lampedusa, my play currently running at the Soho Theatre, focuses on two people at the sharp end of austerity Europe. Stefano is a coastguard whose job is to fish dead migrants out of the sea. Denise is a collector for a payday loan company. They’re not liberals. They don’t like the people they deal with. They can’t afford to. As Stefano says: “You try to keep them at arm’s length. There’s too many of them. And it makes you think, about the randomness of I get to walk these streets, and he doesn’t. The ground becomes ocean under your feet.”

But eventually, the human impact of what they do breaks through. And in their consequent struggles, both Stefano and Denise are aided by a friendship, reluctant and questioning, with someone they formerly thought of as a burden. This is compassion not as a lofty feeling for someone beneath you, but as the raw reciprocal necessity of human beings who have nothing but each other. This is where we are in the utterly corrupted, co-opted politics of the early 21st century. The powerful don’t give a shit. All we have is us.

But equally important is responsibility. In all the rage about migration, one thing is never discussed: what we do to cause it. A report published this week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveals that the World Bank displaced a staggering 3.4 million people in the last five years. By funding privatisations, land grabs and dams, by backing companies and governments accused of rape, murder and torture, and by putting $50bn into projects graded highest risk for “irreversible and unprecedented” social impacts, the World Bank has massively contributed to the flow of impoverished people across the globe. The single biggest thing we could do to stop migration is to abolish the development mafia: the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

A very close second is to stop bombing the Middle East. The west destroyed the infrastructure of Libya without any clue as to what would replace it. What has is a vacuum state run by warlords that is now the centre of Mediterranean people-smuggling. We’re right behind the Sisi regime in Egypt that is eradicating the Arab spring, cracking down on Muslims and privatising infrastructure at a rate of knots, all of which pushes huge numbers of people on to the boats. Our past work in Somalia, Syria and Iraq means those nationalities are top of the migrant list.

Not all migration is caused by the west, of course. But let’s have a real conversation about the part that is. Let’s have a real conversation about our ageing demographic and the massive skills shortage here, what it means for overstretched public services if we let migrants in (we’d need to raise money to meet increased demand, and the clearest and fairest way is a rise in taxes on the rich), the ethics of taking the cream of the crop from poor countries. Migration is a complex subject. But let’s not be cowards and pretend the migrants will stop coming. Because they won’t. This will never stop."
migration  refugees  2015  malice  immigration  modernity  borders  compassion  responsibility  anderslustgarten  europe  eu  somalia  syria  africa  middleast  demographics  aging  ethics  morality  poverty  economics  iraq 
april 2015 by robertogreco
“Rules of Business” — Medium
"Pretend like you’re a human being
With the possible exception of artists and architects, no one is more full of shit than designers. We can find a way to justify anything. Blah blah blah. That means no matter what you end up with, you can come up with some reason why it’s a good design. The best advice I have for designers is to practice being not-designers: stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and then look again like you’re just a regular person encountering this product/service/user interface/object/page/poster for the first time. Where do your eyes go? What do you think it is at first? How do you figure out what you are supposed to do?

Make it inevitable
There is some truth to that old Henry Ford aphorism “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”. If you can’t believe it, it’s probably not going to happen. However, I like to take that one step further and ensure that every action we take is one that assumes the desired outcome is inevitable. Do not make actions that are out of alignment with that inevitability. Do not allow judgements which contradict it. The more evidence you have — and everyone else has — that things will come out as planned, the more likely it will be so.

Every job you do has your signature on it
When I was around 10 or 11 years old, my father offered me $10 to move a cord of recently-delivered firewood from the driveway into the garage and stack it up inside (I am old; $10 was a great deal of money back then). I managed to get all the firewood inside but rather than it being stacked against the wall, it was more or less evenly distributed across the floor of the garage. I expected my payment, but instead got some advice: “Every job you do has your signature on it — do you really want to sign that?” I always remembered that and if I am going to do something, I make every effort to do it right. (I also properly stacked the wood afterwards, even though it took forever, and I got paid in the end.)

Everyone should always be trying to make it easier for everyone
I used to play in a band. Other people might have played team sports, or worked in a well-functioning restaurant. There’s something about working deeply, in real-time, with other people that’s both incredibly satisfying and enormously more effective than working alone. You need to be open for the pass, you need to hear the subtle rhythm shifts, you need to spot when someone else’s table needs the check … everyone should be taking account of what everyone else is doing and constantly modifying their own behaviour to better serve the team.

Know why you’re doing it
If you are just out to make money, god bless: I hope you make some money. If you just want awards or recognition or for others to think highly of you, I hope you get that too. But I don’t think anyone is really satisfied by fame or fortune. I find it incredibly satisfying (and gratifying, rewarding and pleasant) to honestly have done the best job I could have done on something and I believe that works for everyone else too. Being skillful and exercising your mastery is what you’re here to do. Doing anything less undermines the whole point of being alive."
stewartbutterfield  business  advice  2015  design  humans  purpose  responsibility 
april 2015 by robertogreco
miscellany - On Love. - On Love.
"It occurs to me that one of the key indicators of success in most (if not all) of my projects is love. Sometimes that love has to be nurtured from a small spark. But when it’s there, and it’s true, beautiful things happen. Love, and all its constituent parts: mutual respect, communication, interdependence, responsibility, forgiveness, care for each other’s well-being… So many of the poets I work with engage with the darker aspects of experience through their writing. But that darkness is transformed through love, even if only of the craft. And that love is manifest in the spaces we make and share.

Perhaps we can say our best work comes from love. And this is the kind of work I’m happiest doing.

More love."
jacobsam-larose  love  work  howwework  success  forgiveness  care  responsibility  interdependence  communication  respect  mutualrespect  well-being 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Policy Network - The new 'New Deal'? Sharing responsibility in the sharing economy
"New peer-to-peer ‘sharing’ platforms have the potential to boost living standards across the many countries which they span. But as the boundaries between the personal and commercial blur, these radical innovations can also undermine hard-fought consumer and employee protections. Governments and the market need to share responsibility for developing a new social safety net. Peer-to-peer platforms in particular have both a moral and a business imperative to protect the providers and consumers of their services"
sharingeconomy  work  labo  safetynet  socialsafetynet  2014  economics  collectivism  government  responsibility  arunsundararajan  capitalism  uber  freelancing 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Robert Reich: Why Work Is Turning Into a Nightmare | Alternet
"How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots' owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that's unpredictable - odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours - and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we're now barreling toward.

They're Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and Airbnb hosts. They include Taskrabbit jobbers, Upcounsel's on-demand attorneys, and Healthtap's on-line doctors.

They're Mechanical Turks.

The euphemism is the "share" economy. A more accurate term would be the "share-the-scraps" economy.

New software technologies are allowing almost any job to be divided up into discrete tasks that can be parceled out to workers when they're needed, with pay determined by demand for that particular job at that particular moment.

Customers and workers are matched online. Workers are rated on quality and reliability.

The big money goes to the corporations that own the software. The scraps go to the on-demand workers.

Consider Amazon's "Mechanical Turk." Amazon calls it "a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence."

In reality, it's an Internet job board offering minimal pay for mindlessly-boring bite-sized chores. Computers can't do them because they require some minimal judgment, so human beings do them for peanuts -- say, writing a product description, for $3; or choosing the best of several photographs, for 30 cents; or deciphering handwriting, for 50 cents.

Amazon takes a healthy cut of every transaction.

This is the logical culmination of a process that began thirty years ago when corporations began turning over full-time jobs to temporary workers, independent contractors, free-lancers, and consultants.

It was a way to shift risks and uncertainties onto the workers - work that might entail more hours than planned for, or was more stressful than expected.

And a way to circumvent labor laws that set minimal standards for wages, hours, and working conditions. And that enabled employees to join together to bargain for better pay and benefits.

The new on-demand work shifts risks entirely onto workers, and eliminates minimal standards completely.

In effect, on-demand work is a reversion to the piece work of the nineteenth century - when workers had no power and no legal rights, took all the risks, and worked all hours for almost nothing.

Uber drivers use their own cars, take out their own insurance, work as many hours as they want or can - and pay Uber a fat percent. Worker safety? Social Security? Uber says it's not the employer so it's not responsible.

Amazon's Mechanical Turks work for pennies, literally. Minimum wage? Time-and-a half for overtime? Amazon says it just connects buyers and sellers so it's not responsible.

Defenders of on-demand work emphasize its flexibility. Workers can put in whatever time they want, work around their schedules, fill in the downtime in their calendars.

"People are monetizing their own downtime," says Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University's business school.

But this argument confuses "downtime" with the time people normally reserve for the rest of their lives.

There are still only twenty-four hours in a day. When "downtime" is turned into work time, and that work time is unpredictable and low-paid, what happens to personal relationships? Family? One's own health?

Other proponents of on-demand work point to studies, such as one recently commissioned by Uber, showing Uber's on-demand workers to be "happy."

But how many of them would be happier with a good-paying job offering regular hours?

An opportunity to make some extra bucks can seem mighty attractive in an economy whose median wage has been stagnant for thirty years and almost all of whose economic gains have been going to the top.

That doesn't make the opportunity a great deal. It only shows how bad a deal most working people have otherwise been getting.

Defenders also point out that as on-demand work continues to grow, on-demand workers are joining together in guild-like groups to buy insurance and other benefits.

But, notably, they aren't using their bargaining power to get a larger share of the income they pull in, or steadier hours. That would be a union - something that Uber, Amazon, and other on-demand companies don't want.

Some economists laud on-demand work as a means of utilizing people moreefficiently.

But the biggest economic challenge we face isn't using people more efficiently. It's allocating work and the gains from work more decently.

On this measure, the share-the-scraps economy is hurtling us backwards."
robertreich  2015  economics  sharingeconomy  society  work  labor  ondemand  uber  efficiency  unions  insurance  benefits  downtime  responsibility  wages  employment  freelance  regulation 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin, Keynote 5/8/14 on Vimeo
[Starting at 7:00]

“My little talk is called “Deep in Admiration.” This conference is going to be thinking about how to think outside the mindset that sees the techno fix as the answer to all problems. Just this week, I heard a poet say that the essence of modern high technology is to consider the world as disposable: use it and throw it away. Well, we know that we don't need more infantile new technologies that demand throwing away all the old ones every Tuesday. We need adult rational technologies, old and new: pottery making, bricklaying, sewing, carpentry, solar power, sustainable farming. But after our long orgy of being lords of creation and texting as we drive, it's hard to stop looking for the next technofix. We have got to change our minds. To use the world well, we need to relearn our being in it, renew our awareness of belonging to the world. How do we go about it? That awareness seems always to have involved knowing our kinship as animals with animals. Darwin gave that knowledge a scientific basis and now both poets and scientists are extending our awareness of our relationship to creatures without nervous systems and to non-living beings, our fellowship as things with other things. Relationship among all things seems to be complex and reciprocal. It's always at least two way, back-and-forth. It seems as if nothing is single in this universe and nothing goes one way. In this view, humans appear as particularly lively, intense, aware nodes of relation in an infinite network of connections, simple or complicated, direct or hidden, strong or delicate, temporary or very long lasting, a web of connections infinite, but locally fragile, with and among everything, all beings, including what we generally class as things, objects.

Decartes and the behaviorists willfully saw dogs as machines without feeling. Is seeing plants without feeling a similar arrogance? We don't know. But one way to stop seeing trees or rivers or hills only as natural resources is to class them as fellow beings, kinfolk. I guess what I'm trying to do is subjectify the universe because look where objectifying it has got us. To subjectify is not to co-opt and colonize and exploit. Rather, if it's done honestly, it involves a great reach outward of the mind and the imagination. What tools do we have to help us make such a reach? Mary Jacobus, in a book called Romantic Things, wrote, “The regulated speech of poetry may be as close as we can get to such things, to the stilled voice of the inanimate object or the insentient standing of trees.” Poetry is the human language that can try to say what a tree or a rock or a river is, that is to speak humanly for it in both senses of the word for. A poem can do so by relating the quality of an individual relationship to a thing, a rock, a river, a tree, the relationship to or simply by describing the thing as truthfully as possible. Science describes accurately from outside and poetry describes accurately from inside, you could say. Science explicates, poetry implicates. Both celebrate what they describe. We need the language of both science and poetry to save us from ignorant irresponsibility.”

[via: https://twitter.com/steelemaley/status/560283083430445057
"“To use the world well we need to relearn our being in it” -Le Guin http://vimeo.com/97364872 "]

[See also: “ARTS OF LIVING ON A DAMAGED PLANET”
http://anthropocene.au.dk/arts-of-living-on-a-damaged-planet/
https://vimeo.com/artsofliving

“Ursula K. Le Guin: Panel Discussion with Donna Haraway and James Clifford, 5/8/14”
https://vimeo.com/98270808

“Donna Haraway, "Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble", 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/97663518

“Inhabiting Multispecies Bodies: Panel Discussion with Donna Haraway, Margaret McFall-Ngai, and Jenny Reardon, 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/97663316

“On Damaged Landscapes: Panel Discussion with Kate Brown, Deborah Bird Rose, Eric Porter and William Cronon, 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/97852132

“Jens-Christian Svenning, "Future Megafaunas: A Historical Perspective on the Scope for a Wilder Anthropocene," 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/98751434 ]
ursulaleguin  plants  animals  art  2014  technosolutionism  via:steelemaley  things  objects  interconnectedness  interdependence  networks  systemsthinking  technology  jens-christiansvenning  donnaharaway  anthropocene  margaretmcfall-ngai  jennyreardon  katebrown  deborabirdrose  ericporter  williamcronon  jamesclifford  multispecies  objectification  subjectification  fellowahip  kinship  poetry  science  religion  morality  compassion  henryvaughn  maryjacobus  nature  humans  humanism  responsibility  environment  universe  interconnected  interconnectivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Tony Comstock's Kōan of Silence » Blog Archive » Art with a Capital A
"In my films there is no ennui, no cynicism, no boredom or brutality, no disenfranchisement, disconnection, or disaffection. These are the proven cinematic devices used to signal “But this is art,” – devices I intentionally banish from my films. I want to create a sexual and cinematic environment devoid of the familiar landmarks found in art,and scrubbed clean of the familiar hiding places that allow people to watch lovemaking with clinical detachment.

In my films the human condition is a joyful condition. In my films human beings revel in their ability to connect with one another; physically, mentally, emotionally. In my films people know what they want and get what they want. My films are idealistic, passionate, and compassionate. In short, my films are a refutation of everything that art, and especially art films have tried to teach me about love and sex. Where art is expected to be cool and detached, my films are lush; where art is expected to be coy, my films are frank; where art is expected to celebrate pain, my films celebrate pleasure.

But these films are also a refutation nearly of everything I was taught about the art game.

What I was taught is that what can be said is more important that what is seen; what can be argued is more important than what is felt; and that anything anything anything can be art, so long as the “artist’s statement” is sufficiently clever. (Of course the trump card is “You are simply too unsophisticated to understand why this is art.”)

Well guess what? I’m calling bullshit.

I’m calling bullshit on the fraud and the fakery, the mannered ugliness and studied brutality. I’m calling bullshit on the clever artists statements, cunning manifestos, wine and cheese receptions, director’s Q&As, panel discussions. I’m calling bullshit on all of it.

I’m calling bullshit on the fact that the same night police were sent to prevent the screening of ASHLEY AND KISHA the cultural elites were across town at ACMI watching DESTRICTED, and chattering about it as if the film was anything other that a crass publicity stunt, calculated precisely in accordance with cultural norms, and challenging nothing.

I’m calling bullshit on being told I have to choose between the chardonnay sippers and the talk show hosts. I’m not picking sides because they’re on the same team.

I’m calling bullshit on the cheap provocation, with everyone lining up for their meager share of another 15 minutes of media fame.

I’m calling bullshit on the fundraising letter that will go out from the right and the golf-clap that will rise up from the left.

I’m calling bullshit because after it’s all over, nothing will have changed. (After it’s all over, loving, consensual sex between adults, shown as the most joyful of human pleasures will still be among the most radical and subversive subjects a photographic artist can focus his camera upon.)

But mostly I’m calling bullshit on the silly idea that art is a justification.

Art is vocation. Art is avocation. As entertainment, or hobby, or even mere whimsy, art is important. But in an era when everything from toilet bowls to bags of trash are called art, if you want to defend a grown man spending his time with naked 12 year-olds and taking pictures, you’re going to have come up with a better reason than art.

Tell me you just don’t think it’s a big deal; that we are entirely too hysterical about all this stuff. I’ll listen. I may or many not agree, but I’ll listen.

Tell me you’re not sure how you feel about Mr. Henson and the parents who provide him with his “vehicles”, but you feel cautious about handing the decision about what a parent should or should not do over to the state. I’m all ears; and once we’ve hashed that out we can discuss parental notification laws.

But do not tell me it’s okay because Bill Henson was making art; I’m no more ready to accept that than to accept that Ed Gien’s art making excuses, justifies, or even mitigates what he did. You do something criminal, you get punished. You do something reprehensible, you get shunned. You make some art along the way, that’s a footnote.

Do not tell me it’s okay for a middle-aged man to spend his time taking naked photographs of 12 year old girls, so long as he’s making art. My family and I live every day of our lives on the wrong side of this unanswerable and meaningless question about what is and what is not art. We know what happens when the state says “No, that’s not art.” We live every day with the possibility that we will be deprived of our livelihood, our property, our freedom because somewhere someone in a position of power might ask this question about our films, and then answer as they see fit.

Lastly, I’ve seen in the last few days that some of the photos in question are now available to be seen online, but with the naughty bits covered by black bars. This is quiet possibly the low point in this whole farcical episode, and to illustrate my point, I would propose that we conduct another thought experiment:

Let us suppose that a photographer were to create photographs of children that even the most liberal of minds would readily recognize as evidence of child abuse. Now let us suppose that she were to display these photographs with the naughty bits covered with black bars so as to render the photos devoid of the sort of details that are commonly use by art critics and censors to distinguish between what is art and what is not; the sort of details the Australian Office of Film and Literature insisted that I remove from DAMON AND HUNTER before they would declare it to be art, and allow it to be screened at the Sydney International Gay & Lesbian Documentary Film Festival.

Would these photographs be provocative? No doubt. Challenging to our sensibilities? I’d hope so. Would they be art? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. The photos would be evidence of a crime and the people who made them would be criminals."

[via: https://twitter.com/CaptDavidRyan/status/552233813494231042 and
https://twitter.com/CaptDavidRyan/status/552160885763215360 ]
tonycomstock  art  artascover  law  legal  2010  via:davidryan  artasdefense  edglien  2008  billhenson  photography  film  fraud  fakery  decency  responsibility  socialjustice  artgame  ennui  frankness  detatchment  coyness  pleasure 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Breakthrough Institute - Love Your Monsters
"Dr. Frankenstein's crime was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology, but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself. When Dr. Frankenstein meets his creation on a glacier in the Alps, the monster claims that it was not born a monster, but that it became a criminal only after being left alone by his horrified creator, who fled the laboratory once the horrible thing twitched to life. "Remember, I am thy creature," the monster protests, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed... I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."


Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.4

Let Dr. Frankenstein's sin serve as a parable for political ecology. At a time when science, technology, and demography make clear that we can never separate ourselves from the nonhuman world -- that we, our technologies, and nature can no more be disentangled than we can remember the distinction between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster -- this is the moment chosen by millions of well-meaning souls to flagellate themselves for their earlier aspiration to dominion, to repent for their past hubris, to look for ways of diminishing the numbers of their fellow humans, and to swear to make their footprints invisible?"



"4.
The link between technology and theology hinges on the notion of mastery. Descartes exclaimed that we should be "maîtres et possesseurs de la nature."10 

But what does it mean to be a master? In the modernist narrative, mastery was supposed to require such total dominance by the master that he was emancipated entirely from any care and worry. This is the myth about mastery that was used to describe the technical, scientific, and economic dominion of Man over Nature.

But if you think about it according to the compositionist narrative, this myth is quite odd: where have we ever seen a master freed from any dependence on his dependents? The Christian God, at least, is not a master who is freed from dependents, but who, on the contrary, gets folded into, involved with, implicated with, and incarnated into His Creation. God is so attached and dependent upon His Creation that he is continually forced (convinced? willing?) to save it. Once again, the sin is not to wish to have dominion over Nature, but to believe that this dominion means emancipation and not attachment.

If God has not abandoned His Creation and has sent His Son to redeem it, why do you, a human, a creature, believe that you can invent, innovate, and proliferate -- and then flee away in horror from what you have committed? Oh, you the hypocrite who confesses of one sin to hide a much graver, mortal one! Has God fled in horror after what humans made of His Creation? Then have at least the same forbearance that He has.

The dream of emancipation has not turned into a nightmare. It was simply too limited: it excluded nonhumans. It did not care about unexpected consequences; it was unable to follow through with its responsibilities; it entertained a wholly unrealistic notion of what science and technology had to offer; it relied on a rather impious definition of God, and a totally absurd notion of what creation, innovation, and mastery could provide.

Which God and which Creation should we be for, knowing that, contrary to Dr. Frankenstein, we cannot suddenly stop being involved and "go home?" Incarnated we are, incarnated we will be. In spite of a centuries-old misdirected metaphor, we should, without any blasphemy, reverse the Scripture and exclaim: "What good is it for a man to gain his soul yet forfeit the whole world?""

"via this string of tweets from @infrathin:

2 months later, still processing this B. Latour essay http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737470605451265

"LT how to be responsible in the way we conceive of what our responsibility is +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737846280863745

"Like responsibility, love is an allegiance to follow through with the monstrous dilemmas created by it. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544738933566083072

"Love and responsibility both require setting aside what we want them to look like. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544739636665651200

"LT so difficult that i don't know how to do it and have never been able to--except briefly in song. How can i expect "us" to do it?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740052379901952

"so.... um, love you monsters y'all http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740320005853186 ]

[Related: Audrey Watters’s “Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC ” https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:42f77ca711c1 ]
brunlatour  anthropocene  responsibility  love  technology  2012  frankenstein  science  descartes  nature  environment  sustainability  care  nonhumans  emancipation  exploitation  environmentalism  climatechange  modernism  postenvironmentalism  morality  ethics  legal  law  epistemology  reason  decisionmaking  politics  policy  caregiving  intervention  stewardship  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Do Artifacts Have Ethics? | The Frailest Thing
"Years ago, Langdon Winner famously asked, “Do artifacts have politics?” In the article that bears that title, Winner went on to argue that they most certainly do. We might also ask, “Do artifacts have ethics?” I would argue that they do indeed. The question is not whether technology has a moral dimension, the question is whether we recognize it or not. In fact, technology’s moral dimension is inescapable, layered, and multi-faceted.

When we do think about technology’s moral implications, we tend to think about what we do with a given technology. We might call this the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” approach to the ethics of technology. What matters most about a technology on this view is the use to which a technology is put. This is of course a valid consideration. A hammer may indeed be used to either build a house or bash someones head in. On this view, technology is morally neutral and the only morally relevant question is this: What will I do with this tool?

But is this really the only morally relevant question one could ask? For instance, pursuing the example of the hammer, might I not also ask how having the hammer in hand encourages me to perceive the world around me? Or, what feelings does having a hammer in hand arouse?

Below are a few other questions that we might ask in order to get at the wide-ranging “moral dimension” of our technologies. There are, of course, many others that we could ask, but this is a start.

1. What sort of person will the use of this technology make of me?
2. What habits will the use of this technology instill?
3. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of time?
4. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of place?
5. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to other people?
6. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to the world around me?
7. What practices will the use of this technology cultivate?
8. What practices will the use of this technology displace?
9. What will the use of this technology encourage me to notice?
10. What will the use of this technology encourage me to ignore?
11. What was required of other human beings so that I might be able to use this technology?
12. What was required of other creatures so that I might be able to use this technology?
13. What was required of the earth so that I might be able to use this technology?
14. Does the use of this technology bring me joy?
15. Does the use of this technology arouse anxiety?
16. How does this technology empower me? At whose expense?
17. What feelings does the use of this technology generate in me toward others?
18. Can I imagine living without this technology? Why, or why not?
19. How does this technology encourage me to allocate my time?
20. Could the resources used to acquire and use this technology be better deployed?
21. Does this technology automate or outsource labor or responsibilities that are morally essential?
22. What desires does the use of this technology generate?
23. What desires does the use of this technology dissipate?
24. What possibilities for action does this technology present? Is it good that these actions are now possible?
25. What possibilities for action does this technology foreclose? Is it good that these actions are no longer possible?
26. How does the use of this technology shape my vision of a good life?
27. What limits does the use of this technology impose upon me?
28. What limits does my use of this technology impose upon others?
29. What does my use of this technology require of others who would (or must) interact with me?
30. What assumptions about the world does the use of this technology tacitly encourage?
31. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about myself?
32. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about others? Is it good to have this knowledge?
33. What are the potential harms to myself, others, or the world that might result from my use of this technology?
34. Upon what systems, technical or human, does my use of this technology depend? Are these systems just?
35. Does my use of this technology encourage me to view others as a means to an end?
36. Does using this technology require me to think more or less?
37. What would the world be like if everyone used this technology exactly as I use it?
38. What risks will my use of this technology entail for others? Have they consented?
39. Can the consequences of my use of this technology be undone? Can I live with those consequences?
40. Does my use of this technology make it easier to live as if I had no responsibilities toward my neighbor?
41. Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?"
artifacts  objects  ethics  technology  2014  morality  via:tealtan  limits  knowledge  responsibility  time  place  experience  habits  behavior  assumptions  michaelsacasas  culture  lmsacasas 
november 2014 by robertogreco
You Are Asking The Wrong Questions About Education Technology
"Education technology is trendy. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read an article or have a conversation in which someone makes the familiar argument that “education is the one industry that hasn’t embraced the technologies of the 21st Century.” The world has changed–so the story goes–and while business has adapted, school hasn’t.

It sounds convincing. We should certainly embrace tools and technologies that will help educators become more impactful. But we should do it because it works, not for the sake of modern humanity’s obsession with progress, newness, innovation, and disruption. These buzzwords of the industrial age, let’s remember, paved the road that led to the current landscape of education.

The very notion of education as an industry is problematic. School is about transmitting values and principles from one generation to the next, not skillfully organizing labor toward productivity. Education is the child-rearing activity of civilization. We nurture our young into reflective citizens by teaching them the social and epistemological agreements of an increasingly global collective. Educators need to understand that reading, writing, and arithmetic are primarily just mutually agreed upon languages through which we make meaning out of human experience. These disciplines are essentially useful, but only fashionably industrial. That is to say: the languages themselves have much more longevity than the current applications.

For industry, however, applicability is always prioritized over ideology. Thus, running schools according to the wisdom of the business world is precisely the thought paradigm which led to the high stakes testing procedures that currently plague the United States. We account for learning outcomes as if they were profit margins. We measure the dividends returned on technology and infrastructure investments. We see children as industrial resources evaluated according to their ability to download ‘workplace skills.’ And for some bizarre reason–and despite all evidence to the contrary–we continue to expect that these metrics will somehow correlate with intelligent, ethical, and responsible adult individuals. We’ve chosen the wrong perspective.

Implicitly arguing that the problem is poor implementation of industrialization, education pundits around the world often blame inefficient government infrastructures for preventing schools from embracing the appropriate technologies. But when I look at the multi-national corporate world, I’m thankful that bureaucracy provides a necessary filter–it keeps us from moving too fast. After all, the global economy is itself evidence that the hastiness of the digital revolution has been as tumultuous as it has been beneficial. Popular technologies have, in many cases, increased corporate productivity and profitability at the expense of the humans who operate them.

What works for industry will not work for education because, as one recent New York Times article aptly noted, “teaching is not a business.” By now, we should know better than to transplant the intellectual structures of one human activity onto another. The trouble, however, is that we mistakenly believe we can separate the medium from the message.

The Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School Of Education, has already explained that students see how adults’ actions can betray the intended rhetoric. Studies show that while adults say they value empathy, compassion, and critical thinking, children learn to value achievement measured by grade points. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Students read systems’ implicit messaging while ignoring the explicit talking points. When schools are run according to the conventions of for-profit organizations, we move with impressive efficiency toward a world full of graduates who mistakenly believe enterprising entrepreneurship is a defining value system rather than an important skill set.

Alternatively, we might understand that school is ultimately a ‘technology of the self’ (to borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault). Then, we would first focus on the systematic process through which we nurture individuals’ sense of agency, decorum, and responsibility. School itself becomes the tool which refines individuals into reflective citizens and prioritizes opportunities for emerging human dignity. Education becomes the structure within which narratives of personal and collective identity are contextualized using the intellectual structures and academic skills that we’ve inherited from preceding generations.

Digital tools have the ability to enhance these educational technologies of the self. But we need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics. Game-based learning is especially useful because the presence of avatars encourages players to step outside of their familiar perspectives and embody alternate ones. Therefore, they nurture the kind of intellectual self-reflection that education psychologists call “metacognitive skills.” Learning games make the question of identity development explicit and therefore truly empower students with the agency to construct their own personal narratives.

Thus far, however, we’ve unfortunately been brainwashed into thinking that educational technologies are neutral. We imagine that tablets and computers are merely tools that transmit unbiased academic content to students. On the contrary, they do much more than that. Embedded in every technological solution is a moral/ethical stance, an image of the good life, and a narrative of the idealized self. The worldwide success of Apple’s marketing is evidence enough that digital gadgets are not only tools with which we manipulate our environment, but also props in a performed identity narrative.

Technologies teach our children how to make sense of the world, how to think about knowledge and information, and how to relate to themselves and to one another. Making sure we agree, in principle, with the tool’s implicit messaging is the most important question we can ask. Yet, it is the one question we most often skip."
jordanshapiro  2014  edtech  technology  luddism  neoluddism  education  learning  howwelearn  ideology  empathy  compassion  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  efficiency  entrepreneurship  foucault  agency  decorum  humanism  responsibility  empowerment  games  gaming  howweteach  schools  children  slow  michelfoucault 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Marco Gonzalez Calls ‘Bullshit’ on Dense Development Objectors | Voice of San Diego
"What I want to talk about today is what I’ve seen in the communities that have fought these projects. Because, you know, there is the perception that we have become more enlightened, in terms of our citizenry, in terms of our views of social justice. But I’ll tell you what has been astounding to me. It is that, the “community character” argument is the most powerful sword being thrown up by communities who really don’t want brown people, who really don’t want poor people, who really don’t want to see a development come into their neighborhood because they’ve got theirs, and they don’t care if someone else can’t get the same thing. They don’t want old people to have a place to retire, they don’t want young people to have a place to live near the coast, and they simply say, ‘Wait, I can argue this nebulous concept of community character, and in certain circumstances our elected officials… become weathervanes and not compasses.

And that’s frustrating, and I’ll tell you what, as an environmentalist who came into this profession to stop the loss of the backcountry that I grew up in in North County San Diego, it was relatively easy to go out and fight sprawl development. Not easy in the cases with the county and the judges that we had to fight, it was never easy, but from a personal integrity standpoint, it was easy to be a naysayer, it was easy to go out there and say, ‘Hey, acres and acres of red tile roofs, long distances from transit, long vehicle miles to get to urban city centers, and the bleeding of our urban tax dollars out to the suburbs, all of that is bad.’

But at some point, we had to develop a set of presumptions that applied to our already developed areas. From within the environmental community I thought it was important for us to say, ‘If we’re going to fight sprawl, we have to incentivize infill’ (dense projects within already-developed areas). So we had to ask ourselves some tough questions, and what I’m doing now at this point in my career is asking those people who used to be my clients, those activists, those community-character-spouting residents, to really address these presumptions.

The first presumption is growth. Will growth occur? I think it will. Whether you believe SANDAG’s projections, whether you think it’ll come from across the border, from babies being born, from Michigan and Wyoming and the places where people love to come from, growth will occur, especially along our coastline, and the question is, what obligation do you have in a city like Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Carlsbad, even La Jolla, to accommodate some portion of that growth? And what I oppose is the notion that my former clients and my former base say ‘We have none, because we’ve got ours and we don’t have to provide anything for anyone else.’



My presumption is infill is better than sprawl. It seems like a no-brainer, but when you talk to environmentalists who live on the coast about how we’re going to infill that community, they say, ‘Screw it, we’d rather have sprawl because frankly we’ll hang out on the beach, and we don’t go to the backcountry anymore anyways.’ They won’t actually say that, but that’s what they say when I’m not around.



And then, as I mentioned earlier, the presumption is, if you’re an elected official, part of your job is to turn to that loud minority that will stand before you every month or every week and call you a crook and call you bought off, and turn to them and say, ‘hey, there is a bigger community, there are social issues and there are economic issues that I must balance against your loud voice, and pick a direction.’ Take a direction that is going to give you responsibility, whether it’s a legal responsibility… or whether it’s a moral responsibility to provide a place for the people who came up in your community, to come back to after school, or when their kids leave for school and they want to leave their mansion on the hill and find a nice townhome or condo, and have a vibrant downtown to work and play in."
marcogonzalez  sandiego  socialjustice  2014  nimbyism  development  density  urbanism  urban  urbandevelopment  racism  classism  neighborhoods  selfishness  integrity  environment  infill  infilling  housing  economics  responsibility  nimbys 
october 2014 by robertogreco
When Uber and Airbnb Meet the Real World - NYTimes.com
"They subscribe to three core business principles that have become a religion in Silicon Valley: Serve as a middleman, employ as few people as possible and automate everything. Those tenets have worked wonders on the web at companies like Google and Twitter. But as the new, on-demand companies are learning, they are not necessarily compatible with the real world.

The first principle is to be a middleman — or in tech lingo, a platform — connecting the people who post on YouTube with those who watch their videos, or the people who need a ride with people who will drive them. As platforms, the thinking goes, they are just connectors, with no responsibility for what happens there.

For websites, this is codified in law — they are not legally responsible for what their users publish, according to the Communications Decency Act, perhaps the most influential law in the development of the web. That is why Yelp avoids liability when people post inaccurate or abusive restaurant reviews, and why YouTube does not have to remove videos that some find offensive.

The law protects online speech, not actions people take in the offline world. Yet its ethos has permeated Silicon Valley so deeply that people invoke it even for things that happen offline.

“These folks grew up in a world where platforms are not responsible, and then when they go do stuff in the real world, they expect that to be the case,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington law school who studies cyber law.

Take Airbnb’s terms of service. “Airbnb provides an online platform that connects hosts who have accommodations to rent with guests seeking to rent such accommodations,” it says. “Airbnb has no control over the conduct” of hosts or guests, the terms continue, and “disclaims all liability in this regard.”

Yet it is one thing to say a company has no control over the conduct of online commenters, and another when its users are in people’s homes or cars. Airbnb, like others, has been forced to learn the limits of its status as a platform. In response to reports of renters’ damaging and ransacking homes, it added a round-the-clock hotline for people in unsafe situations and a policy covering $1 million in loss or damages.

The second web business principle is to minimize the number of paid on-staff employees. Tech companies have long shunned the idea of hiring lots of sales staffers or call-center workers. Instead they automate ad sales with auction algorithms or offer help forums where other customers offer advice on their sites. When Instagram was acquired by Facebook, it employed 13 people; Kodak, in its heyday, employed more than 140,000.

That mentality may be why new on-demand companies are running into trouble with workers. Most of these companies avoid having employees by using contract workers. But some are wondering whether the companies are pushing the definition of contract worker too far. Uber drivers have filed class-action lawsuits in Massachusetts and California, and advocates are pushing for things like benefits and disability compensation for workers at many start-ups."
siliconvalley  labor  uber  airbnb  regulation  law  legal  2014  homejoy  middlemen  work  clairecainmiller  responsibility  sharingeconomy 
october 2014 by robertogreco
A Pirate’s Life for Me: Education as Common Good — Medium
"There is an ancient English practice of ‘beating the bounds’ — an annual festival that was held around this time each spring. People of the parish marched around the commons — the land they worked together — and trampled down any fences that had been put up to try to make land private. The commons was where the community had shared rights. It was where the parish planted and literally grew together. It was ‘the theatre within which the life of the community was enacted’ — and if there is a better definition of what a school is then I’d love to hear it.

As land enclosures accelerated through the 17th and 18th centuries this ritual of ‘beating the bounds’ took on an explosively political edge, and was seen as an act of piracy. I would argue that one of the reasons that pirates have been rising up again because that stage upon which our communities traditionally grow has continued to be so narrowed and reduced, as the spaces and arts that we used to share together have been enclosed for profit."



"In a political climate where all we hear is economic growth, in an educational climate where all we hear is the international rat race, it is a virtuous act of piracy to focus students on well-being and happiness rather than putting them through the mincer simply to improve our league table standing.

To encourage students to genuinely think beyond the raw economics is to encourage them to break down the enclosures of a consumer-capitalist worldview and see that life and childhood is a much much wider ocean.

Our schools should be that ‘theatre within which the life of the community is enacted’ — or, to turn that round, our schools should be theatres where the community learns to enact and embody life. Too often that life is narrowed ‘work hard to get the grades to get the degree to get the job to be wealthy.’ And if that’s what we teach in our communities, that’s what our communities can only become.

We need to encourage that spirit of radical self-determination, that desire for the common good, that worldview that values the arts and drama and classics and philosophy not for what they might eventually earn for us, but because they enrich our communities in ways that Gove will never see.

We need, in short, to act to protect childhood. To protect play. To protect time to kick a ball and do nothing."



"Pirates in literature and film are not just about swashbuckling thieves. They are about emancipation, about challenging the current order of things, rebelling against the Empire — not in order to destroy it — but to renew it.

And this is why this pirate archetype should be at the centre of what we do in education.

Not that everyone should be wearing stupid pirate costumes. But that every child coming to school should be encouraged to explore the commons of knowledge — not for some future financial gain, but just because.

And in a world where education has been turned into a commodity, a means of accessing wealth, it is an act of piracy for teachers to suggest that a different world is possible.

But, moreover, we should be encouraging these acts of piracy from students themselves.

Like Malala, like Wendy, like Luke, like Henry Hill the book pirate, they should be encouraged to play these roles and, in doing so, begin to individuate healthily and slay the structures that block them from full human becoming.

They might be girls challenging everyday sexism, boys challenging homophobia, students campaigning against rigid curricula and the elitism of the cabinet.

Whoever they are, we should be supporting them, creating theatres within which the sorts of communities we want to exist in are modelled.
Classroom as TAZ

During the Golden Age of piracy, pirate communes sprung up along the Moroccan and Caribbean coasts. In a laced-up world, these were places of extraordinary freedom and subversive liberty.

The authorities would hear of these places and send ships to shut them down. But, as one Admiral said at the time, it was ‘like sending a cow after a hare.’

These communities of pirates and freed slaves would spring up, dazzle and disappear. Leaving those who experienced them wondering what in heaven just happened.

They have since been described by historians as ‘Temporary Autonomous Zones’ — or TAZs.

They are a space liberated, for a short time only, and presenting a new form of being, ‘an intensification of everyday life, life’s penetration by the Marvellous’ as one writer put it.

That is what each classroom should be, what each lesson should aim at: a liberated space, penetrated by something marvellous, springing up and disappearing before Ofsted can crush it…

It is in these liberated spaces that education, true education, will happen."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:7161b69fef5d ]
kesterbrewin  education  pirates  piracy  commons  learning  schooling  unschooling  responsibility  howweteach  howwelearn  community  lcproject  openstudioproject  life  living  cv  peterpan  history  lukesywalker  starwars  patriarchy  liberation  anarchism  anarchy  temporaryautonomouszones  thomasjefferson  malalayousafzaiis  jollyroger  pisa  schools  2014  marcusredicker  henryhill  publishing  benjaminfranklin  knowledge  copyright 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Pirates and Prodigals on Vimeo
"A conversation between Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins, and Barry Taylor on the tragedy of the pirate and prodigal son archetypes and what this means for the future church. The discussion drew from ideas presented in Kester Brewin’s latest book, Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us.

The Berry Center for Lifelong Learning and The Inititive for the Church and Contemprary Culture, Fuller Theologcial Seminary

Wednesday, October 24, 2012"
pirates  theology  christianity  religion  belief  2012  radicaltheology  kesterbrewin  peterrollins  barrytaylor  courage  brokenness  honesty  responsibility  otherness  humanism  empathy  perspective  understanding  life  living  death  piracy  slavery  freedom  autonomy  independence  god  liberation  prodigalson  unbelief  decay  zombies 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us | Paul Verhaeghe | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That’s why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won’t be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare, the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it’s known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the “infantilisation of the workers”. Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities (“She got a new office chair and I didn’t”), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

More important, though, is the serious damage to people’s self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being “Who needs me?” For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one.

Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: “Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless.” We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, “make” something of ourselves. You don’t need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master’s degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us."
neoliberalism  economics  politics  psycopathy  paulverhaeghe  2014  capitalism  ethics  behavior  identity  zygmuntbauman  power  freedom  meritocracy  responsibility  society  hegel  lacan  richardsennett  roberthare  impulsivity  markets  privatization  articulateness  boasting  personalbranding  lying  dishonesty  personality  bullying  parenting  priorities 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Restaurant and the Kitchen — Teaching, Learning, & Education — Medium
"If you’re like me, you’ve spent most of your education at schools that resemble restaurants — where you show up, sit down and expect to have your hunger satisfied. The food, some of which you selected and some of which was chosen for you, is cooked and served by other people. Depending on the talent of the cooks and quality of the ingredients, sometimes the meal will be great. Other times, it will be disappointing.

This metaphor is one that is shared with each new cohort of students on their first day of Dev Bootcamp. The school does this to set expectations — because Dev Bootcamp is not a restaurant. It is a kitchen.

In a well-run kitchen, you should have all the tools, ingredients and guidance you need to make anything that might satisfy your hunger. You don’t need to follow a recipe. You can add ingredients that suit your diet. And while your first attempt at a soufflé may not look or taste as good as one you’d find in a fancy restaurant, it will be yours. You will be able to make it on your own and eat it whenever you like.

My first year at the Stanford GSB has been, what I might imagine, a meal at The French Laundry to be like — tough to get a reservation, obscenely expensive, and exciting to name drop to friends and strangers. While it has been an incredible experience, allowing me to meet inspiring people and get exposure to interesting concepts, I can’t shake the feeling that this is not the education I might have designed for myself at the outset.

Throughout my life, I have been guilty of holding one school or another responsible for my education — paying more attention to the question: “did I like this class?” rather than “did I get what I wanted to learn from this class?” I’ve grown to understand that instead of trying to adjust my career path to fit a set degree or attempting to gain mastery in a subject based on the curriculum outlined in a syllabus, it’s essential to start with the simple question: what do I want to learn?

A typical university is trying to serve many purposes at the same time; from producing cutting-edge research to providing its students with a brand that signals excellence. Schools do their best to cover a very broad range of subjects; however, there are limits to the depth they are able to reach. Often you may be more equipped to prepare yourself for your dream career than your school. Taking a class will sometimes be the perfect recipe, but many times it’s worth considering resources like MOOCs, books, or doing unpaid work for a company you admire.

Students at Dev Bootcamp spend the majority of their days working in groups on code challenges and on building web apps. During the few hours of lecture time each week, students are encouraged to decide for themselves whether a lecture is the best use of their time, and if not, to find something to learn or practice that they find more valuable. At Tradecraft, an immersive program that trains people to fill traction roles at startups, students have the space to find companies that they admire and do usability tests of their products. By setting their own educational priorities, students, in these immersive programs and others like it, have been able to enhance their skills and land great entry-level jobs in the course of only 3–4 months.

Each of us is responsible for building a foundation for the life we want to live. So go out, source the ingredients yourself, and don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get messy."
education  ownership  responsibility  2014  nickdewilde  learning  schools  schooling  howwelearn  messiness  learningbydoing 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Yes We Can. But Should We? — re:form — Medium
"Quirky has been clever in melding the old-school notion of being an “inventor” with the new-school notion of being a “maker.” But somewhere in the course of entering the pop culture zeitgeist, the warm and fuzzy self-empowered “maker” idea got turned into an engine for output and profit. No idea is too superfluous. Many of the items the company sells are gadgets like “Pivot Power,” designed expressly for plugging in other gadgets. It felt to me that the very purpose of Kaufman’s endeavor was to get more stuff on shelves, or what he referred to as “social product development.

Not so long ago it felt like we were beginning to recognize that as a society, our patterns of production and consumption were not sustainable. Messages like The Story of Stuff went viral, refocusing our collective eyes on our culture’s stunning material wastefulness. But that period was short, and the resolve for change it seemed to herald has all but evaporated. While many innovative companies have been focusing on selling experiences rather than manufacturing goods, the drive to produce more has only accelerated.

Technology has become not only more sophisticated, but access to its bells and whistles has become relatively more affordable and accessible. With this, ideas around designing and making have shifted and sectors of the maker movement have veered from basement workshop projects to the production of i-accessories and other trinkets that make Kickstarter fanboys drool. Just as desktop publishing tools made everyone [think they were] a graphic designer, 3-D printers and the like have empowered legions to be the next Jony Ive. (Not incidentally, why must every last bit of product design be measured by whether it would make Ive proud?)

I won’t point the finger at one company or one discipline but I am struck by the absence of sustainable discourse in the maker movement. Daily, we read swooning odes to the 3-D printer, the CNC router and other cutting edge manufacturing technologies but read almost nothing that approaches these developments through a much-needed critical lens. Every tchotchke is celebrated as if it were as significant as the wheel or the printing press.”



"In Why Things Bite Back, Edward Tenner writes of what he calls the “ironic unintended consequences’’ of human ingenuity, ranging from antibiotics that promise the cure of disease but end up breeding resistant microorganisms, to a new football helmet, designed to reduce injuries, that actually encourages a more violent style of playing, thus creating the risk of more serious injury. We’re experiencing some of these ironies now as we use technology to solve the wrong problems. We’re in a period where almost anyone has the tools to make almost anything – but are we making the right things? Or too many of the wrong ones?

There seems to be a misconception about what 3D printing does and does not enable. Does it allow us to delight a four-year-old by pulling a mini Darth Vader toy seemingly out of thin air? It does. But the object doesn’t materialize from nothing. A 3D printer consumes about 50 to 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding to make an item of the same weight. On top of that, the emissions from desktop 3D printers are similar to burning a cigarette or cooking on a gas or electric stove. And the material of choice for all this new stuff we’re clamoring to make is overwhelmingly plastic. In a sense, it’s a reverse environmental offset, counteracting recent legislation to reduce plastic use through grocery bag bans and packaging redesigns. While more people tote reuasable cloth bags to the supermarket, plastic is piling up in other domains, from TechShop to Target."



"Good design is often defined as being an elegant solution to a clear problem. Perhaps we’re solving the wrong problems — or inventing problems that don’t exist — as justification for our excessive output. Do we need more products? Not really. But we need better ones. So why aren’t we designing them? Why are we reading about so many bad ones? Why, for example, did more than 62,000 people recently pitch in to fund a new drink cooler that doubles as a beverage blender (and triples as a stereo) to the tune of $13,285,226?"
makers  invention  3dprinting  design  makermovement  sustainability  waster  responsibility  allisonarieff  2014  capitalism  profits  production  productivity  output  materials  unuseless  chindogu 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Scotland’s Independence Vote Shows a Global Crisis of the Elites - NYTimes.com
"When you get past the details of the Scottish independence referendum Thursday, there is a broader story underway, one that is also playing out in other advanced nations.

It is a crisis of the elites. Scotland’s push for independence is driven by a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time.

The rise of Catalan would-be secessionists in Spain, the rise of parties of the far right in European countries as diverse as Greece and Sweden, and the Tea Party in the United States are all rooted in a sense that, having been granted vast control over the levers of power, the political elite across the advanced world have made a mess of things.

The details of Scotland’s grievances are almost the diametrical opposite of those of, say, the Tea Party or Swedish right-wingers. They want more social welfare spending rather than less, and have a strongly pro-green, antinuclear environmental streak. (Scotland’s threatened secession is less the equivalent of Texas pulling out of the United States, in that sense, than of Massachusetts or Oregon doing the same.) But there are always people who have disagreements with the direction of policy in their nation; the whole point of a state is to have an apparatus that channels disparate preferences into one sound set of policy choices.

What distinguishes the current moment is that discontent with the way things have been going is so high as to test many people's tolerance for the governing institutions as they currently exist.

The details are, of course, different in each country.

In the case of Britain, a Labor government led by a Scottish prime minister (Gordon Brown) and his Scottish finance minister (Alistair Darling) supported the financialization of the British economy, with the rise of global mega-banks in an increasingly cosmopolitan London as the center of the economic strategy.

Then, in 2008, the banks nearly collapsed and were bailed out, and the British economy hasn’t been the same. Their failures ushered in a conservative government in 2010 that is even less aligned with the Scots’ preferred policies, bringing an age of austerity when the Scots would prefer to widen the social safety net.

In the United States, we watched a bipartisan push toward financial deregulation in the 1990s and 2000s lay the groundwork for the 2008 crisis. The inability of the Bush or Obama administration to contain the damage (and indeed to fight it with financial bailouts) ushered in a Tea Party in 2010 elections that is beyond the control of elder statesmen of the Republican Party.

It is in continental Europe that the consequences of bungling by mainstream elites are perhaps the most damaging. The decades-long march toward a united continent, led by the parties of the center-right and center-left, created a Western Europe in which there was a single currency and monetary authority but without the political, fiscal and banking union that would make it possible for imbalances between those countries to work themselves out without the benefit of currency fluctuations. When it all came to a head from 2008 to 2012, national leaders were sufficiently alarmed by the risks of budget deficits that they responded by cutting spending and raising taxes.

As such, the imbalances that built up over the years in Europe are now working themselves out through astronomical unemployment and falling wages in countries including Spain and Greece. Even the northern European economies, including Germany, are experiencing little or no growth. As Paul Krugman noted this week, while the Great Depression of the 1930s was a sharper contraction in economic activity initially, the European economy is performing worse six years after the 2008 crisis than it was at the comparable point in the 1930s.

"The details of the policy mistakes are different, as are the political movements that have arisen in protest. But together they are a reminder that no matter how entrenched our government institutions may seem, they rest on a bedrock assumption: that the leaders entrusted with power will deliver the goods.

Power is not a right; it is a responsibility. The choice that Scotland is making on Thursday is of whether the men and women who rule Britain messed things up so badly that they would rather go it alone. And so the results will ripple through world capitals from Athens to Washington: The way things are going currently isn’t good enough, and voters are getting angry enough to want to do something about it."
2014  scotland  power  politics  policy  governance  neilirwin  government  ey  economics  responsibility  finance 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC
[video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiotl4G6fMw ]

"No doubt, we have witnessed in the last few years an explosion in the ed-tech industry and a growing, a renewed interest in ed-tech. Those here at ALT-C know that ed-tech is not new by any means; but there is this sense from many of its newest proponents (particularly in the States) that ed-tech has no history; there is only now and the future.

Ed-tech now, particularly that which is intertwined with venture capital, is boosted by a powerful forms of storytelling: a disruptive innovation mythology, entrepreneurs' hagiography, design fiction, fantasy.

A fantasy that wants to extend its reach into the material world.

Society has been handed a map, if you will, by the technology industry in which we are shown how these brave ed-tech explorers have and will conquer and carve up virtual and physical space.

Fantasy.

We are warned of the dragons in dangerous places, the unexplored places, the over explored places, the stagnant, the lands of outmoded ideas — all the places where we should no longer venture. 

Hic Sunt Dracones. There be dragons.

Instead, I’d argue, we need to face our dragons. We need to face our monsters. We need to face the giants. They aren’t simply on the margins; they are, in many ways, central to the narrative."



"I’m in the middle of writing a book called Teaching Machines, a cultural history of the science and politics of ed-tech. An anthropology of ed-tech even, a book that looks at knowledge and power and practices, learning and politics and pedagogy. My book explores the push for efficiency and automation in education: “intelligent tutoring systems,” “artificially intelligent textbooks,” “robo-graders,” and “robo-readers.”

This involves, of course, a nod to “the father of computer science” Alan Turing, who worked at Bletchley Park of course, and his profoundly significant question “Can a machine think?”

I want to ask in turn, “Can a machine teach?”

Then too: What will happen to humans when (if) machines do “think"? What will happen to humans when (if) machines “teach”? What will happen to labor and what happens to learning?

And, what exactly do we mean by those verbs, “think” and “teach”? When we see signs of thinking or teaching in machines, what does that really signal? Is it that our machines are becoming more “intelligent,” more human? Or is it that humans are becoming more mechanical?

Rather than speculate about the future, I want to talk a bit about the past."



"To oppose technology or to fear automation, some like The Economist or venture capitalist Marc Andreessen argue, is to misunderstand how the economy works. (I’d suggest perhaps Luddites understand how the economy works quite well, thank you very much, particularly when it comes to questions of “who owns the machinery” we now must work on. And yes, the economy works well for Marc Andreessen, that’s for sure.)"



"But even without machines, Frankenstein is still read as a cautionary tale about science and about technology; and Shelley’s story has left an indelible impression on us. Its references are scattered throughout popular culture and popular discourse. We frequently use part of the title — “Franken” — to invoke a frightening image of scientific experimentation gone wrong. Frankenfood. Frankenfish. The monster, a monstrosity — a technological crime against nature.

It is telling, very telling, that we often confuse the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, with his creation. We often call the monster Frankenstein.

As the sociologist Bruno Latour has argued, we don’t merely mistake the identity of Frankenstein; we also mistake his crime. It "was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology,” writes Latour, "but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself.”

The creature — again, a giant — insists in the novel that he was not born a monster, but he became monstrous after Frankenstein fled the laboratory in horror when the creature opened his “dull yellow eye,” breathed hard, and convulsed to life.

"Remember that I am thy creature,” he says when he confronts Frankenstein, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good— misery made me a fiend.”

As Latour observes, "Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.”

Our “gigantic sin”: we failed to love and care for our technological creations. We must love and educate our children. We must love and care for our machines, lest they become monsters.

Indeed, Frankenstein is also a novel about education. The novel is structured as a series of narratives — Captain Watson’s story — a letter he sends to his sister as he explores the Arctic— which then tells Victor Frankenstein’s story through which we hear the creature tell his own story, along with that of the De Lacey family and the arrival of Safie, “the lovely Arabian." All of these are stories about education: some self-directed learning, some through formal schooling.

While typically Frankenstein is interpreted as a condemnation of science gone awry, the novel can also be read as a condemnation of education gone awry. The novel highlights the dangerous consequences of scientific knowledge, sure, but it also explores how knowledge — gained inadvertently, perhaps, gained surreptitiously, gained without guidance — might be disastrous. Victor Frankenstein, stumbling across the alchemists and then having their work dismissed outright by his father, stoking his curiosity. The creature, learning to speak by watching the De Lacey family, learning to read by watching Safie do the same, his finding and reading Volney's Ruins of Empires and Milton’s Paradise Lost."



"To be clear, my nod to the Luddites or to Frankenstein isn’t about rejecting technology; but it is about rejecting exploitation. It is about rejecting an uncritical and unexamined belief in progress. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it's that we have pretended like it is truth and divorced from responsibility, from love, from politics, from care. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it’s that it does not, despite its insistence, give us “the answer."

And that is problem with ed-tech’s monsters. That is the problem with teaching machines.

In order to automate education, must we see knowledge in a certain way, as certain: atomistic, programmable, deliverable, hierarchical, fixed, measurable, non-negotiable? In order to automate that knowledge, what happens to care?"



"I’ll leave you with one final quotation, from Hannah Arendt who wrote,
"Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

Our task, I believe, is to tell the stories and build the society that would place education technology in that same light: “renewing a common world.”

We in ed-tech must face the monsters we have created, I think. These are the monsters in the technologies of war and surveillance a la Bletchley Park. These are the monsters in the technologies of mass production and standardization. These are the monsters in the technologies of behavior modification a la BF Skinner.

These are the monsters ed-tech must face. And we must all consider what we need to do so that we do not create more of them."
audreywatters  edtech  technology  education  schools  data  monsters  dragons  frankenstein  luddites  luddism  neoluddism  alanturing  thomaspynchon  society  bfskinner  standardization  surveillance  massproduction  labor  hannaharendt  brunolatour  work  kevinkelly  technosolutionism  erikbrynjolfsson  lordbyron  maryshelley  ethics  hierarchy  children  responsibility  love  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  learning  politics  policy  democracy  exploitation  hierarchies  progress  science  scientism  markets  aynrand  liberarianism  projectpigeon  teachingmachines  personalization  individualization  behavior  behaviorism  economics  capitalism  siliconvalley 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Unschooling: The Case for Setting Your Kids Into the Wild | Nature | OutsideOnline.com
"There’s a name for the kind of education Fin and Rye are getting. It’s called unschooling, though Penny and I have never been fond of the term. But “self-directed, adult-facilitated life learning in the context of their own unique interests” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so unschooling it is."



"Fin and Rye are proficient with most of the hand and power tools that form the backbone of any working farm. By the time they were eight, both of them could operate the tractor and, in a pinch, drive the truck with a load of logs. They split firewood alongside us, swinging their mauls with remarkable accuracy. They are both licensed hunters and own .22 rifles and 20-gauge shotguns. They wear belt knives almost everywhere, oblivious to the stares of the adults around them, some concerned, some perplexed, and some, it often seems to me, nostalgic.

Our sons are not entirely self-taught; we understand the limits of the young mind and its still-developing capacity for judgment. None of these responsibilities were granted at an arbitrary, age-based marker, but rather as the natural outgrowth of their evolving skills and maturity. We have noticed, however, that the more responsibility we give our sons, the more they assume. The more we trust them, the more trustworthy they become. This may sound patronizingly obvious, yet I cannot help but notice the starring role that institutionalized education—with its inherent risk aversion—plays in expunging these qualities."



"“I look back at unschooling as the best part of my life,” Chelsea Clark told me between classes at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where she was accepted on full scholarship after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the university’s undergraduate program. “It was a huge advantage, actually. I had the confidence of knowing what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t burned out on classroom learning like most college kids.” Chelsea was unschooled throughout her high school years in the small town of Dorchester, South Carolina.

Still, perhaps the best answer I can give to the question of what price my children might pay is in the form of another question: What price do school-going children pay for their confinement? The physical toll is easy enough to quantify. Diabetes rates among school-age children are sky-high, and the percentage of 6-to-11-year-olds who qualify as obese has nearly tripled since 1980. And what do children do in school? Exactly. They sit.

Inactivity is also bad for the brain. A 2011 study by Georgia Health Sciences University found that cognitive function among kids improves with exercise. Their prefrontal cortex—the area associated with complex thinking, decision making, and social behavior—lights up. The kids in the study who exercised 40 minutes per day boosted their intelligence scores by an average of 3.8 points.

Yet the physical and cognitive implications of classroom learning have played minor roles in our decision to unschool Fin and Rye. It’s not that I don’t want them to be healthy and smart. Of course I do—I’m their father.

But, in truth, what I most want for my boys can’t be charted or graphed. It can’t be measured, at least not by common metrics. There is no standardized test that will tell me if it has been achieved, and there is no specific curriculum that will lead to its realization.

This is what I want for my sons: freedom. Not just physical freedom, but intellectual and emotional freedom from the formulaic learning that prevails in our schools. I want for them the freedom to immerse themselves in the fields and forest that surround our home, to wander aimlessly or with purpose. I want for them the freedom to develop at whatever pace is etched into their DNA, not the pace dictated by an institution looking to meet the benchmarks that will in part determine its funding. I want them to be free to love learning for its own sake, the way that all children love learning for its own sake when it is not forced on them or attached to reward. I want them to remain free of social pressures to look, act, or think any way but that which feels most natural to them.

I want for them the freedom to be children. And no one can teach them how to do that."

[See also: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/09/04/345827467/these-kids-grew-up-with-the-woods-as-their-only-classroom OR
http://www.wbur.org/npr/345827467/these-kids-grew-up-with-the-woods-as-their-only-classroom ]
benhewitt  homeschool  unschooling  education  parenting  vermont  2014  nature  learning  howwelearn  petergray  families  responsibility  tcsnmy  glvo  edg  srg  outdoors  risk  risktaking 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Invisibles by David Zweig: The Power of Anonymous Work | New Republic
"Despite an incredible range of careers, there are three traits they all seem to share. The first is an ambivalence toward recognition. They don’t seek attention the way most of us do. The second trait is that they tend to be meticulous. The chapter on meticulousness focuses on a man named David Apel, who is a perfumer. This guy has created some of the top-selling fragrances in the world, for people like Calvin Klein and Tom Ford. He’s really an artist: He creates something from nothing, and he has to translate very abstract concepts. If a client says, “I want this to smell like a cloud,” he has to figure out what they’re saying. He has this incredible knowledge of science and chemistry; these fragrances have hundreds of ingredients, and the amount of each ingredient can go down to fraction of a gram. He has these spreadsheets that go on and on and on. He’s extraordinarily meticulous. The third trait is that they tend to savor responsibility. I argue that many of us try to avoid responsibility if we can, but these people want to take it on, even if they don’t get any credit for it. There’s a fascinating story about the engineers on one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s early buildings. They knew that his designs weren’t safe, but he was notoriously stubborn, and they knew he wouldn’t listen to them. They secretly went in and reinforced parts of the building while it was being built. They wanted to take on this responsibility, knowing that publicly they could never talk about it, because they just cared so deeply about their work. We tend to associate responsibility with the person at the top of the pyramid, or the most noticeable person, but responsibility doesn’t necessarily have to do with being seen."

[via https://twitter.com/debcha/status/476029143101239296
"Invisibles: highly skilled professionals doing critical work, unseen by the public. Intriguing. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117955/invisibles-david-zweig-power-anonymous-work … /via @seriouspony"

follows with
"The Tzadikim Nistarim: the 36 hidden righteous ones, whose presence allows the world to keep existing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzadikim_Nistarim … /via @harrisj"
https://twitter.com/debcha/status/476031178047520769 ]
anonymity  invisibility  darkmatter  culturaldarkmatter  maticulousness  obscurity  attention  responsibility  visibility  recognition  labor  work  tzadikimnistarim 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter / tlhote: "Bureaucracy is a construction ...
"Bureaucracy is a construction designed to maximize the distance between a decision-maker and the risks of the decision." —@nntaleb

[via: http://alecresnick.com/post/88006424970/bureaucracy-is-a-construction-designed-to ]
leadership  organizations  bureaucracy  decisionmaking  responsibility  risk  nassimtaleb 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Made by Hand / No 5 The Bike Maker on Vimeo
"A project from bureauofcommongoods.com, Made by Hand is a new short film series celebrating the people who make things by hand—sustainably, locally, and with a love for their craft.

Our fifth film turns to bike maker Ezra Caldwell (Fast Boy Cycles), who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. When the cancer threatens to shatter his love of bikes, Ezra survives by documenting his illness as thoroughly as his craft."
ezracaldwell  2013  bikes  biking  life  death  illness  living  fastboycycles  making  craft  responsibility  irresponsibility 
may 2014 by robertogreco