ayjay + textpatterns   15

Social Media isn't for Learning - Long View on Education
I have a very strong reaction against the idea that we should teach students how to brand themselves, especially given the broader economic context where those good google jobs aren’t handed out equitably based on online portfolios. But I think there is a strong argument for teaching children how to manage as best as possible what search engines will find when they are googled. Maybe there is room for teaching how to be less than your whole self, selectively curating different slices of you for extraction at a later date. On the flip side, students may not want to act out their most meaningful or ‘authentic’ learning on the most public of platforms. Schools have a role as a carapace.

As much as we can teach students how to navigate the platforms we do have, we must guard against the greatest danger: inculcating a sense of complacency in the face of the existing platform logic as if it forms an inevitable and incontestable future.
socialmedia  textpatterns  academe 
15 days ago by ayjay
“Students as Creators” and the Theology of the Attention Economy
But the rhetoric around “students as creators” is unbelievably bad. It parrots all of capitalism’s worst theology: we want to make “makers, not takers”, we value “doers, not thinkers”. As I said a few years back, the idea that universities should value “producers” and push our students towards “production” is actually the least subversive idea you could possibly have at a university. The most subversive idea you could have at a university these days is that you might think a few connected thoughts without throwing them into either publication or the attention economy. That you might think about things for the purpose of being a better human, without an aim to produce anything at all.
academe  textpatterns  socialmedia 
15 days ago by ayjay
Hubert Dreyfus - Highway Bridges and Feasts: Heidegger and Borgmann on How to Affirm Technology
This resistance to technological practices on the behalf of focal practices is the primary solution Borgmann gives to saving ourselves from technological devastation. Borgmann cannot find anything more positive in technology--other than indulging in good running shoes and a Big Mac every now and then--because he sees technology as the highest form of subjectivity. It may fragment our identities, but it maintains us as desiring beings not world disclosers. In contrast, since Heidegger sees technology as disaggregating our identities into a contingently built up collection of skills, technological things solicit certain skills without requiring that we take ourselves as having one kind of identity or another. This absence may make our mode of being as world disclosers invisible to us. This would be what Heidegger calls the greatest danger. But this absence allows us to become sensitive to the various identities we may have when we are engaged in disclosing the different worlds focused by different kinds of things. As such disclosers we may even respond to technological things as revealing one kind of world among others. Hence, Heidegger's view of technology allows him to find a positive relation to it, but only so long as we maintain skills for disclosing other kinds of local worlds. Freeing us from having a total fixed identity so that we may experience ourselves as multiple identities disclosing multiple worlds is what Heidegger calls technology's saving power. [...]

Heidegger's thinking until 1955, when he wrote "The Question Concerning Technology," was like Borgmann's current thinking in that for him preserving things was compatible with awaiting a single God. Heidegger said as early as l946 that the divinities were traces of the lost godhead. But Heidegger came to think that there was an essential antagonism between a unified understanding of being and local worlds. Of course, he always realized that there would be an antagonism between the style set up by a cultural paradigm and things that could only be brought out in their ownness in a style different from the dominant cultural style. Such things would inevitably be dispersed to the margins of the culture. There, as Borgmann so well sees, they will shine in contrast to the dominant style but will have to resist being considered irrelevant or even wicked. But, if there is a single understanding of being, even those things that come into their own in the dominant cultural style will be inhibited as things. Already in his "Thing" essay Heidegger goes out of his way to point out that, even though the original meaning of 'thing' in German is a gathering to discuss a matter of concern to the community, in the case of the thing thinging, the gathering in question must be self contained. The focal occasion must determine which community concerns are relevant rather than the reverse.
tech  philosophy  textpatterns  from instapaper
16 days ago by ayjay
Amazon.com: The Real-Town Murders eBook: Adam Roberts: Kindle Store
'In the eighteenth century the really expensive things were food and clothes. But we soon found ways of undermining the scarcity of both those things, and both became trivially cheap. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century the really expensive thing was housing, because people insisted on preferring large detached properties and there wasn’t enough space for everyone to have one. But now, people can live in as much or as little space, as much or as little luxury, as they desire – in the Shine. All they need for a real-world base is a cupboard. So what does that leave us?’

‘I’m confident,’ said Alma, ‘that this disquisition is going somewhere.’

‘There’s a price to be paid for living in the Shine,’ said Pu. ‘It is that you must open yourself. You render yourself easy to track, easy to surveil, easy to monitor and therefore easy to control. People in the Shine don’t care, because they’re too caught up in their various actualised fantasies. But the people who do the surveilling do care, because it’s the grounds of their power, and once you get a taste for it, power is something you never get enough of.’
surveillance  SF  power  tech  textpatterns 
16 days ago by ayjay
LRB · John Lanchester · You Are the Product: It Zucks!
Google and Facebook have both been walking this line from the beginning. Their styles of doing so are different. An internet entrepreneur I know has had dealings with both companies. ‘YouTube knows they have lots of dirty things going on and are keen to try and do some good to alleviate it,’ he told me. I asked what he meant by ‘dirty’. ‘Terrorist and extremist content, stolen content, copyright violations. That kind of thing. But Google in my experience knows that there are ambiguities, moral doubts, around some of what they do, and at least they try to think about it. Facebook just doesn’t care. When you’re in a room with them you can tell. They’re’ – he took a moment to find the right word – ‘scuzzy’. [...]

The view of human nature implied by these ideas is pretty dark. If all people want to do is go and look at other people so that they can compare themselves to them and copy what they want – if that is the final, deepest truth about humanity and its motivations – then Facebook doesn’t really have to take too much trouble over humanity’s welfare, since all the bad things that happen to us are things we are doing to ourselves. For all the corporate uplift of its mission statement, Facebook is a company whose essential premise is misanthropic. It is perhaps for that reason that Facebook, more than any other company of its size, has a thread of malignity running through its story. The high-profile, tabloid version of this has come in the form of incidents such as the live-streaming of rapes, suicides, murders and cop-killings. But this is one of the areas where Facebook seems to me relatively blameless. People live-stream these terrible things over the site because it has the biggest audience; if Snapchat or Periscope were bigger, they’d be doing it there instead.

In many other areas, however, the site is far from blameless. The highest-profile recent criticisms of the company stem from its role in Trump’s election. There are two components to this, one of them implicit in the nature of the site, which has an inherent tendency to fragment and atomise its users into like-minded groups. The mission to ‘connect’ turns out to mean, in practice, connect with people who agree with you. We can’t prove just how dangerous these ‘filter bubbles’ are to our societies, but it seems clear that they are having a severe impact on our increasingly fragmented polity. Our conception of ‘we’ is becoming narrower. [...]

What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does – ‘connect’, ‘build communities’ – and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.
tech  Facebook  textpatterns  from instapaper
18 days ago by ayjay
Technology destroys people and places. I’m rejecting it | Mark Boyle | Opinion | The Guardian
Living without complex technology has its own difficulties, especially for people like me who were never initiated into those ways. But already I much prefer it. Instead of making a living to pay bills, I make living my life. Contrary to expectation, my biggest issue is not being bored, but how to do all the things I’d love to do. Of course hand-washing your clothes can be a pain sometimes, but that minor inconvenience is hardly worth destroying the natural world over.

Well-intentioned friends often try to convince me to go off-grid, but in using batteries, electrical cables and photovoltaic panels (as I once did), I would still be connected, by a peculiar sort of invisible cable, to the global network of quarries, factories, courtrooms, mines, financial institutions, bureaucracies, armies, transport networks and workers needed to produce such things. They also ask me to stay on social media to speak out about the technology issue, but I say I’m denouncing complex technology simply by renouncing it. My culture made a Faustian pact, on my behalf, with those devilish tyrants Speed, Numbers, Homogeneity, Efficiency and Schedules, and now I’m telling the devil I want my soul back.

My life has its fair share of irony, and it can look hypocritical. Despite originally writing these words (a technology) with a pencil (a technology) in a hand-crafted cabin (a technology), the irony of this being an online blog is not lost on me. That is my compromise for now, for if you want to contribute to a healthier society, compromise can be a healthy thing if you know your boundaries. Being a hypocrite is always my highest ideal, as it means I’ve set higher standards for myself to strive for than I’m achieving at any one moment.
tech  textpatterns 
february 2017 by ayjay
Infernal Machine Collective Manifesto: On the Occasion of the Inauguration | The Infernal Machine
During the age of high technology the academic study of media developed its own high towers and professional enclaves: communications; radio, film, and television; cinema.  It also included courses from journalism, speech communication, economics, business, and literature. Each operated on its own frequency. Technology studies, meanwhile, built an edifice (rather plain and drab at first, until a Gothic renovation by a Frenchman, Bruno Latour, with a penchant for networks, actants, and jokes). If the age of high technology yielded a change in the categories, such that agency was distributed and binaries upended (a “general cyborg condition,” as Donna Haraway put it), then what does the fast-advancing Digital Era call for? What philosophy will grasp this history?

A chorus on the Left decries the “fading of fact,” as though we had not attached media and rhetoric to the disappearance of fact for half a century—or since Plato. How can our self-proclaimed sophisticates have failed to see this continent of intellectual energy emerging outside their media, yet on the platforms those media share? How can those trained to think of Enlightenment as having the darkest of sides, a necessary backlash in its very heart, be so naively surprised by this predictable development?
textpatterns  tech  media 
january 2017 by ayjay
Anxiety and surveillance: pillars of the new economy | ROUGH TYPE
Compulsions can be so severe as to be debilitating. But they also, and much more routinely, take milder forms. They alter our thoughts and behavior, sometimes in deep ways, without making us dysfunctional in society. In fact, by tempering our anxiety, they may serve as a kind of therapy that protects our social functionality. Since ours is, as Auden suggested, an age of anxiety, it’s no surprise that it is also an age of compulsion.

The near-universal compulsion of the present day is, as we all know and as behavioral studies prove, the incessant checking of the smartphone. As Begley notes, with a little poetic hyperbole, we all “feel compelled to check our phones before we get out of bed in the morning and constantly throughout the day, because FOMO — the fear of missing out — fills us with so much anxiety that it feels like fire ants swarming every neuron in our brain.” With its perpetually updating, tightly personalized messaging, networking, searching, and shopping apps, the smartphone creates the anxiety that it salves. It’s a machine almost perfectly designed to turn its owner into a compulsive.

Needless to say, a portable, pocket-sized product that spurs and sustains compulsive use can be a very lucrative product for any company able to tap into its hypnotic power. The smartphone is the perfect consumer good for the age of anxiety. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that, from a commercial standpoint, the smartphone is to compulsion what the cigarette pack was to addiction.
addiction  compulsion  smartphones  surveillance  textpatterns 
january 2017 by ayjay
Reading, Privacy, and Scholarly Networks – Planned Obsolescence
Sarah Bond published a column on Forbes.com this morning on the importance of not for profit scholarly networks. I’m thrilled that she mentioned not only my blog post but also the work we’re doing at Humanities Commons. But if she hasn’t convinced you that it’s time to #DeleteAcademiaEdu yet, maybe this will: Friday, the network launched a new “prime” feature that allows members to pay to see the identities of users who are reading the work they share. That is to say: if you are reading things on Academia.edu, the network may sell your user info.

That they’re offering to sell this info to the author of the work involved does not make it okay. This is a frightening violation of the privacy standards that — a key point of comparison — libraries have long maintained with respect to reader activity. And selling your data to authors may only be the beginning.

I don’t want to read too much into the fact that they launched this “feature” on inauguration day. But the coincidence really begs scholars to become even more vigilant about where they’re sharing their work, and what networks they’re supporting as they access the work of others.
academe  privacy  textpatterns 
january 2017 by ayjay
Emily Dickinson’s Singular Scrap Poetry - The New Yorker
There are countless expressive features of a Dickinson manuscript, all but a few of them effaced when her poems enter a standard print edition. First, there is Dickinson’s handwriting, long a source of fascination. Higginson famously compared Dickinson’s hand to “fossil bird-tracks,” an insight about the shape and the saturation of her letters, and also about their flickering gait as they cross the white of the page. The Dickinson scholar Domhnall Mitchell and others have suggested that “the layout of a Dickinson autograph is deliberate or motivated” in potentially every regard, from the capital letters of various sizes, to the spaces between letters and words and lines, to the marginalia, which are often crammed with variant choices of word or phrase. Dickinson’s dashes are ubiquitous in all but the earliest editions of her poems, but fewer editions reproduce her plus signs, which mark an unfinished or provisory line, later to be filled in. There are watermarks and embossments around which Dickinson steers her words. The paper is ruled, except when it is not. Now that the Internet has destabilized the conventions of the printed page—in which a poem is a block of language so many inches wide and so many inches long, with pure white space surrounding letters and phrases set at fixed intervals—it is harder than ever to defend the translation of Dickinson’s wild, dynamic graphic surfaces into such confines.

It has been argued that Dickinson refused publication exactly because it was synonymous with print, whose standardizing tendencies she knew would miscarry her precision effects. When, in 1866, Dickinson’s “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” appeared in the Springfield Daily Republican (under a title likely chosen by its editors, “The Snake”), Dickinson complained to Higginson that, among other problems, she was “defeated . . . of the third line by punctuation.” Her manuscript had read, “You may have met Him—did you not / His notice sudden is—.” But, when the poem appeared, the editors had supplied a question mark: “You may have met him—did you not? / His notice instant is.”
writing  textpatterns  handwriting 
december 2016 by ayjay
The Enlightenment Index | Brad Pasanek and Chad Wellmon
Where the Enlightenment confidence in print would connect books and, by extension of this techno-anthropology, people, the Romantic author function personalizes as well as depersonifies the book. [84] William Hazlitt claims to revisit the same twenty or thirty volumes, recalling with each rereading feelings evoked by previous readings. When he figures these remembered readings as “links in the chain of our conscious being,” Hazlitt’s metaphor subverts and interiorizes Enlightenment ideas of a Bildungskette or enchaînement of human knowledge. [85] The Romantic cites not page but place of purchase, not date of publication but time of reading; he exchanges books for nature, turning from the atemporal realm of print—the Index—to station himself in his own historical present or phenomenological presence.

To speak or write of Enlightenment is to summon the language of books. In sum, the Enlightenment is this: a web of footnotes, cross-references or renvois, indexes, and excerpts that collect, relate, and coordinate an entire field of books and periodicals. Recall the pointing fingers printed in broadsheets and the mar- gins of a variety of Enlightenment books: the eighteenth century is “crowded with indices.” [86] In this essay we have offered an account, in broadest outline, of the period and its aftermath in order to show how human and technical agency are mediated through bibliographic materiality and how, from out of these historical mediations, the human is constantly remade and remediated. [87] For the eighteenth century, the Index was always an ideal, and today it may be one again: what Kevin Kelly has referred to in The New York Times as a single “liquid library” of all knowledge is precisely what Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO) and Google Books promise. [88] Following Latour, who complains that the Enlightenment “has never had the anthropology it deserved,” our account would recognize agents both human and bibliographical, and pursue its anthropology by way of bibliography. [89] The Enlightenment Index calls for an accounting in a continuation of the Enlightenment project by new technological means. If we take seriously the bibliographic Enlightenment, the task, as literary, intellectual, and cultural historians, is to reassemble its Index.
book  DH  textpatterns 
february 2016 by ayjay
Text Patterns: "a machine that would go of itself"
More smart thoughts from (against the dream-theory) in the comments here:
BreakingBad  textpatterns  from twitter
october 2013 by ayjay

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