robertogreco + future   1897

Home • Advancement Project
[via: "California Today: How Progressive Is the Golden State?"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/27/us/california-today-how-progressive-is-the-golden-state.html ]

[See also: "RACE COUNTS: Advancing Opportunities For All Californians: WINTER 2017" [.pdf]
http://www.racecounts.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Race-Counts-Launch-Report-digital.pdf

RACE COUNTS: A GOLDEN STATE FOR ALL OF US
http://www.racecounts.org/ ]

"WHAT WE DO
Reinventing California to work for everyone.
We work alongside our partners to transform public systems and shift investments to achieve racial equity."



"California can lead the way for our country by demonstrating what it means to have power shared equitably by its people. This is why we champion the fair distribution of opportunities and privileges so that every Californian can thrive. We work alongside community activists and policymakers to generate momentum for evidence-based solutions that produce more just outcomes for all.

EDUCATIONAL EQUITY
The Educational Equity program expands educational opportunities and ensures appropriate school facilities for low income and disadvantaged children from birth through high school graduation. In recent years, our education work has concentrated on ensuring that there are adequate facilities for students to learn and that early care and education (ECE) opportunities are expanded and improved to provide a springboard for future academic success.

Current Key Issues
• Early Care & Education
• Dual Language Learners
• Family & Community Engagement
• K-12 Education Policy

Impact of Our Work:
• Elevate the needs of California’s youngest learners in policymaking through Water Cooler • • • • Network convenings
• Renovated a million classroom spaces in California because of additional funding
• Helped pass the California English Learner roadmap, reversing the harmful effects of Proposition 227 (198) that placed nearly all English learners in English-only classrooms

HEALTH EQUITY
The Health Equity Program brings about real change in the well being of low-income people of color who suffer disproportionately from chronic health conditions and other negative health outcomes. This change comes by ensuring neighborhoods, schools, and health services support and enable healthy choices throughout California via grassroots, data-driven advocacy campaigns.

Current Key Issues:
• Access to Health Care
• Transportation Equity

Impact of Our Work:
• Launched newest version of HealthyCity.org, which features curated data on equity and new mapping tools
• Helped secure funding to end traffic-related deaths in Los Angeles through the Vision Zero Alliance

EQUITY IN PUBLIC FUNDS
We partner with low-income communities of color to advance their goals by ensuring budgets align with their priorities, while also building their power and expertise to be high-impact advocates. Through trainings, research, and policy analysis, we empower communities to leverage their understanding of public budgets and build partnerships with policymakers to create vibrant and healthy communities for all California families.

Current Key Issues:
• Justice System Reform
• Land Use & Infrastructure
• K-12 Education
• Youth Development

Impact of Our Work:
• Trained advocates to understand and shift government funding to their neighborhoods
• Developed campaigns to move funds to support high-need students
• Identified funding streams to support the development of parks, safe housing and water projects

POLITICAL VOICE
Political Voice works to make state and local governments more participatory and representative of the communities they serve. Our goal is that all community members are able to genuinely participate in the making of effective public policy, in ways that go beyond just voting, and that governments respond equitably to community concerns. To accomplish this goal, we advocate for racially and economically just democracy reforms.

Current Key Issues:
• Public Participation in Governance
• 2020 Census
• Fair Elections
• Fair District Lines

Impact of Our Work:
• Convened the Census Policy Advocacy Network (CPAN) and secured $3 million in the 2017-18 • CA state budget to support 2020 Census planning
• Revealed racial disparities in political participation through Unequal Voices, a two-part report that analyzed voting and other forms of political engagement"
california  future  progress  health  politics  policy  education  justice  socialjustice  funding  inequality  equity  race 
13 days ago by robertogreco
Impakt Festival 2017 - Performance: ANAB JAIN. HQ - YouTube
[Embedded here: http://impakt.nl/festival/reports/impakt-festival-2017/impakt-festival-2017-anab-jain/ ]

"'Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurts': @anab_jain's expansive keynote @impaktfestival weaves threads through death, transcience, uncertainty, growthism, technological determinism, precarity, imagination and truths. Thanks to @jonardern for masterful advise on 'modelling reality', and @tobias_revell and @ndkane for the invitation."
https://www.instagram.com/p/BbctTcRFlFI/ ]
anabjain  2017  superflux  death  aging  transience  time  temporary  abundance  scarcity  future  futurism  prototyping  speculativedesign  predictions  life  living  uncertainty  film  filmmaking  design  speculativefiction  experimentation  counternarratives  designfiction  futuremaking  climatechange  food  homegrowing  smarthomes  iot  internetofthings  capitalism  hope  futures  hopefulness  data  dataviz  datavisualization  visualization  williamplayfair  society  economics  wonder  williamstanleyjevons  explanation  statistics  wiiliambernstein  prosperity  growth  latecapitalism  propertyrights  jamescscott  objectivity  technocrats  democracy  probability  scale  measurement  observation  policy  ai  artificialintelligence  deeplearning  algorithms  technology  control  agency  bias  biases  neoliberalism  communism  present  past  worldview  change  ideas  reality  lucagatti  alextaylor  unknown  possibility  stability  annalowenhaupttsing  imagination  ursulaleguin  truth  storytelling  paradigmshifts  optimism  annegalloway  miyamotomusashi 
27 days ago by robertogreco
When the narrative breaks - Long View on Education
"So, here’s one way to look at the whole narrative about education systems failing to provide skills of the future for employers:

Maybe schools should cultivate creativity & critical thinking not because the ‘jobs of the future’ demand these skills that are necessary for an educated citizenry, but because most jobs restrict these human capacities?

Often, the more we work in jobs with machines the more machine-like we need to become.

Yet, maybe some of the least recognize and most important work – caring for others – is precisely where we find creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and all the others skills that are apparently so desirable. That is, the ‘jobs of the future’ narrative has duped us on another level: because it never talks about care work, it seems as if that work is unimportant and low-skill. In a story on Vox, a support worker named Nathan Auldridge says that though “the pay is shit”, “You can’t make a robot do what I do.”"



"The ‘jobs of the future’ narrative is broken beyond repair: there’s no skills gap that education needs to fill, nor do the vast majority of the jobs that actually require many of the 21c skills pay very well. Why is that? The Vox article continues:
Caregiving — a low-paid, low-status job — is also most often done by disadvantaged workers. One in 10 working black women are employed in direct care; more than a quarter of direct care workers are black women. In contrast, while white women make up 35 percent of these jobs, only one in 37 working white women is employed in direct care. Latina women, as well as immigrant women, are also disproportionately represented.

Since women of color are disproportionately represented in these growing jobs of the future, why are they not represented in the forecasts about the future? In an article called Where are the Black Futurists?(2000), the author (listed as ‘Black Issues’) reflects on an all white male C-SPAN futurist panel:
“there are too many people talking about the future without considering the future of African Americans and other people of color.

By not considering us, is the majority implicitly suggesting that we don’t matter? Do they think that as America ages, we will continue to play the traditional service and support roles for their communities? When I hear estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor that we’ll need nearly a million home health aides in the next decade, and I know that most home health aides now are Black and Brown women, I conclude that unless the wage structure changes, the future implications for those women and their families are frightening.

But the futurists mainly seem to be predicting what an aging society will need without predicting who will provide it.”2
"
benjamindoxtdator  2017  care  caring  future  jobs  education  sfsh  collaboration  creativity  human  tcsnmy  cv  machines  technology  humanities  humanism  criticalthinking  civics  citizenry  democracy  work  labor  stem  steam  economics  caregiving  race  racism  futurism  sciences 
28 days ago by robertogreco
my friend pokey — futures market
"(ed. note: stephen died while writing this, may his sinful heart now rest in peace)

I think that every work implies an audience, i think that projected audience will be perpetually dreamlike and strange since it’s drawn not from human consciousness but from a form of same which has been distorted through embodiment in alien material. Refracted by some “medium” and then existing as a transferable, reproducible object and living an object life separable from the human circumstances by which it was produced. And I think that when we evaluate a work part of what we evaluate is this audience and the prospect of belonging to it, the possibility of a community with those assumptions and those values. The saying “give people what they want” always confuses me in this context because surely part of what they want is the possibility of wanting something else, of being a person who wants something else. Advertisements famously sell not just a product but also the prospect of being the kind of person who likes that product. Even the most conservative works pull a bait and switch in this regards in that part of what they suggest is the prospect of being a person who already knows what they want, of having character and qualities that persist in time rather than being a shapeless blob of experiences.

Avant-garde work could be said to be that which prioritises the formation of new audiences, or the possibility of forming new audiences, above any actual qualities which those audiences would have. It draws on the utopian aspect of creating new social structures, new communities, where whatever form they ultimately end up taking the fact that they can be made at all is in some way a celebration of agency and the possibility of new futures. But the other side of things is that even as the appeal of these imaginary communities comes partly from their distance from our real ones, they’re also evaluated on the basis of their feasibility - their power comes not just from a list of bloodless alternities but from possessing a transformative quality, the real possibility of enactment which is used to make demands on the contemporary. Not just a future but one already germinating in the present. And though I like and respect a lot of these works it’s also hard, for this reason, not to feel a little uneasy about them - because the imagery of an imminent, transfigurative break from the present has been so co-opted as a way to conceal the fundamental limitations and eerie inertia of capitalism that I think it’s hard for anything drawing on that tradition to escape lending credibility to it, even when its interests are directly opposed. 20+ years of an increasingly threadbare neoliberal consensus in the face of problems which grow more and more obvious mean the notion of an unexpected, miraculous shift in the causal order grows more and more central, from the vague sense that someone will invent, like, a moss or something which will stop global warming in the nick of time to the idea that the same clumsy, stupid videogames we’ve been bonking against invisible walls in for decades now will any minute now transmogrify into the effortless freefloating virtual lucid dreams of legend. And in fact videogames provide a constant running example of just how profitably this perception can be managed - - from a medium which from inception built upon a certain futuristic quality coming both from the historically new level of consumer access to computer technology and from decades of science-fiction representations of same, and which leveraged that into a perennial suggestion that the bright new day was always just around the corner - that by playing videogames now you were securing a kind of early-investor bragging rights to the media singularity to come. If there’s anything historically new about videogames it’s the extent to which the very suggestion of potential developments to be had later on was finally recognised as more profitable than any intrinsic qualities of the form itself.

And I think all this raises some problems when we think about avant-garde and experimental videogames, not just because in replicating some of the assumptions of the industry they risk being assimilated by it - you can’t game-design your way out of late capitalism, there are no final aesthetic solutions to economic problems etc - but because by repeating those assumptions they risk being judged by the standard of contribution to this same monolithic vidcon future, and then discarded accordingly when “the future” changes according to stockholder diktats. I mean that when you see these works as yet more expressions of “the medium” it’s harder for them to survive when that status is taken away again, and that at this point it’s difficult to conceive of a future of videogames that doesn’t in some way just flow back into the orthodox one still being sold.

Why does this matter. I think the videogame market will crash again because that’s what markets do, and when it does I believe it’ll be blamed on small engines, on unity and rpgmaker, on asset-flipping and joke simulators and walking games and political games rather than e.g. the incessant boom-bust cycles of capitalism or the fact that the particular interactive media singularity that videogames have invested so much image, money and energy into identifying themselves with looks more and more dated and less likely to happen. I think there’ll be more gamergate bullshit from people who invested in the stupid, stupid videogame dream and got told by youtube millionaires that it was being undermined from within by sjw fifth columnists making pug dating games. I think that just as places like YouTube have shown a willingness to quietly cut down on who’s able to make money through their service places like Steam will do the same thing, particularly after already raising the prospect of exponentially increasing the cost of using the store for small developers already. I think middlebrow columnists at the Atlantic will cash checks saying well, a lot of those games weren’t pushing the medium forward anyway, and that the whole thing will end up being recast as a morality tale about an overcrowded, overdiverse market, and that a lot of valuable work people are doing now will be just wiped from the record in the same way as a lot of pre-2007 indie games were, or flash games, or interactive CD-ROMs, or whatever the fuck.

I think that when this happens experimental games or avant garde games or alternative games will be seen less as possible alternatives to the mainstream tradition than as offshoots of it which got pruned, and I’m not sure how much help they will really be to anyone trying to figure out ways to make these things without getting pulled into the endless churning blood rotor of existing videogame culture.

I’ve written before that the game scenes which interest and excite me most are things like FNAF fangames, Undertale fangames, Unity horror games, RPG Maker games, hyperspecific utility pieces like the Prosperity Path orbs, less for any particular aesthetic or design qualities than for them being videogames which manage to escape some of the awful binary of Producer/Consumer and the ideas of “importance” which evolve later to help justify that perverse dynamic. Like what does it mean to experience a game if it’s just part of a big stack of almost interchangeable things and anyway you’re only absently going through it when searching for more stuff to steal for your own interchangeable thing. Which is healthier and more interesting than “art”. But I think part of it too is the sense of having a specific audience to bounce against, even if it’s just of people looking to take your Secret Of Mana midis, and the way that the concreteness of that audience helps defuse the kind of creeping tendency towards cultural speculation that comes with the belief in a big medium-wide payout somewhere down the line that’d justify the time and energies of everyone involved. I don’t think it’s enough to say people should make an effort to criticise games for what they are as opposed to what they might be, or whatever, insofar as that’s even possible. I think being able to appreciate what they are is dependent on recognizing that they have an audience which is similarly settled, similarly “just there”. And I think working towards constructing that kind of space would mean, yes, a sort of concession of “the future” to the stockholders of industry, renouncing the right to eventually reap that dread crop. But in the process being able to better engage with the present and all the disparite forces and strands within it who have similarly been lopped off that grand narrative, or were never part of it to begin with, and navigate all the ambiguities and potentials of that space. I think the future of videogames is the same kind of desperate, self-willed dream as those years worth of Twitter shares, for a company which has never actually been profitable, or the horrible locked-down image of infinity that sees new Rocket Racoon movies coming out every year til 2099, I think those dreams are ones that emerge and grow stronger as the actual basis for them either materially or affectively grows ever more decrepit, I think however overwhelming they get they can only really be strangled in the present.

As they say… no futur-what! what are you doing in my house! no-aieee!! (manuscript abruptly cuts off)"
via:tealtan  videogames  capitalism  avantgarde  audience  audiences  potential  invention  utopia  games  gaming  media  neoliberalism  2017  possibility  transcontextualism  alternative  art  future  markets  economics  alternities  transformation  change  fandom  agency  moss 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Manifesto – Evergreen Review
"We devise and concoct ways to make each other beg for the most meager of resources. Death, which should simply be something that comes to us, is instead an instrument of dominion and torture. We have perfected instruments of death-making. We extend such deathery even to our social systems, creating ways to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable among us will die because the rest of us don’t believe they deserve the methods and technologies by which we keep ourselves alive."



"And yet, even in our imagination, we cannot conceive of a world where abundance is enough. We can literally create anything we want and live without want, but we still want more.

In this imagined new world, we are still at war with others, crisscrossing space to divide it up into sectors and grids, cutting up even empty air into parcels the way we do patches of land. We make the vast and incomprehensible universe malleable by exerting our history of dispossession onto it. Our thirst for possession is as boundless as the universe we inhabit. Even our imagination is limited by avarice. This is why, dear aliens, I feel no real pain or sadness at the thought of what you might do to us. The sorrows and suffering we have inflicted upon each other, the degradations, the humiliations, the pain, the contrasts in resources and the creation of need—nothing in the universe can match what we have already done."



"Like the utopias they bring forth, manifestos are birthed in the possibility of failure. They succeed not in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of despair. What is the present and the future we need to keep imagining? What is a utopia? What is the nature of our utopias? Do we still dare to have any?"



"No one is outside ideology. Yet, too many Americans believe they are, and prefer to focus on how they feel: a particularly American problem is the preponderance of affect in politics. But when it comes to politics—to anything that calls itself justice—we should only pay attention to two questions: what do people need, and how do we get them what they need without having to beg? Yet our political programs are neither initiated nor sustained by the will to redistribute our ridiculously ample resources. Rather, we obsess over whether the people who receive them are worthy of our care. We ask questions we never ask the well-off: Are you deserving? Do you have the proper moral character? If we give you this money, how do we know you won’t spend it on cigarettes? If you buy food, will it be junk food or apples? But wait, how can we be sure you won’t blow it all on lobster?"



"If you want our help, then make us weep for you.

In that, the left has failed miserably. The left can barely articulate what it stands for without weeping for forgiveness for its own existence. This manifesto is an attempt to instantiate the left. How do we learn to be the left fearlessly, without either shame or arrogance?"



"No doubt, dear aliens, you will have found in your exploration of our debris or our archives (who knows in what state you encounter us) rants from leftists about “identity” or “identitarianism.” It has been difficult to convince this kind of activist that a true left finds a way to think about getting people what they need without erasing the material realities of their lives, but without capitulating to the essentializing of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Yet, even now, in most left organizations, it is women who do the emailing and the cleaning up, while the menfolk spout on about the revolution."



"A true left abjures philanthropy, which only enables the concentration of wealth by providing the super wealthy with fantastic tax breaks. A true left fights for a society where housing is not a matter of investment linked to the survival of an economy but simply a right. It fights for a world where prisons don’t exist to extract life from those whose failings, real or imagined, we cannot confront and whom we would rather shut away forever."



"
Such focus on Trump’s xenophobia ignores the fact that the millions of undocumented in this country became such under Bill Clinton. Two pieces of immigration legislation, in 1994 and 1996, made many simple misdemeanours into felonies only for non-citizens, and created the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry, which pushed undocumented people, now afraid of not being allowed to return if they should leave the country, into the shadows. Arguably, Trump has fine-tuned such mechanisms, but the tools for expulsion and removal were left there by Democratic administrations and are simply being sharpened and honed by this one."



"Resistance, like the heart, is a muscle, and needs to be constantly exercised. Instead, it’s become a buzzword. It’s made people think that somehow they’re soldiers now, fighting on every front. Ongoing work gets rebranded as “resistance” as if magically, due to the presence of Voldemort, everything changed overnight. The press plays up a collective sense of impending doom, making it seem like our lives are now unfolding like a scene from The Deathly Hallows."



"To liberals and lefties, this August 2016 exchange was evidence of Trump’s madness and his dangerously childish naivete. But in fact Trump’s response revealed the idiocy of nuclear weaponry and exposed the irrationality at the heart of American foreign policy: that somehow there is nothing wrong about possessing nuclear weapons."



"Neoliberalism is in fact capitalism made familiar, which is why I describe it as the endless privatisation of everyday life. It survives on vectors of intimacy, transforming capitalism into an emotional matter rather than an economic one, even though its incursions and devastations are deadly and long-lasting precisely because of the way it serves to insinuate itself into the machinations of the daily world."



"This is not to wax nostalgic about “neighborhoods” or to imply that everyone needs to be an “ethical gentrifier,” but to point out that the economic structure in relation to something as basic as housing is entirely set up to benefit the banking and finance industry. Meanwhile, Chicago resolutely and proudly refers to itself as a city of neighborhoods. The question is: who gets to belong, who gets phased out?"



"how neoliberalism operates upon various vectors of intimacy, and how that intimacy cuts across lines of class, race, and gender with varying effects."



"Over and over, Chicago and other cities fetishise their “neighborhood feel,” creating “community” out of displacement, demanding that the displaced then return only to satisfy the cravings the new residents refuse to acknowledge or to perform the jobs beneath the newcomers’ pay grade. Home ownership is what Americans, gay and straight, are expected to do as married people and the intimacy of married life brutally occludes the covert and hidden intimacies of transactions that keep underground economies flourishing.

Neoliberalism seduces us with its intimacy. Intimacy with our workplace, our occupation, the idea of having to “love” what you do: our work becomes our lover. Neoliberalism feeds off our sense of constant economic precariousness by convincing us that we must never demand more from the state or corporations, that what we label “sharing” economies are somehow community-based endeavors. And so people everywhere distribute their labor almost for free, in workplaces that are described as “mobile” and to which they “commute” as free agents. But these are in fact far more onerous than regular workplaces, and are mostly unregulated enterprises, and offer neither benefits nor protections (the field of “left publishing", including this publication, consists almost entirely of such labor).

But what they do is put us in touch with our own labor as something we control, birth, operate. We work with the illusion of control, but we are compelled, all the while, to cede it. We believe that having no control over the circumstances of our lives yields an intimacy that we cannot get elsewhere.

Neoliberalism survives as well as it does because its machinations allow people to express dissent even as they in fact only echo support for its worst effects. During Occupy, it was incredible to watch so many take to the streets, finally critical of how capitalism had wreaked its havoc. But as I wound my way through the massive crowds and their signs, it also became evident that the palpable anger was not so much at the system but that the system had failed them. Signs everywhere said, in effect, “I did the right thing for years, and I was still screwed over.” Everywhere, there was an anger at the ruling classes, certainly, but I couldn’t help but recall yet again those words about America’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The subsequent bailouts only confirmed a widespread sense that if we just fix the system, we can make it all better, when the system itself is the problem, and “fixing” it only serves to concentrate resources and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people."



"Capitalism flows unimpeded."



" Western analysts take their own social freedoms for granted—average Americans have, for many decades, left their parental homes in their late teens—but when it comes to other and what they fondly imagine as “more traditional” cultures, would prefer it if everyone just stayed transfixed in quaint old ways, please.

Neoliberalism fills the immediate needs of people in ways that other systems cannot—because, yes, that’s how capitalism functions, by dismantling our existing structures, and creating a need for new ones that provide the illusion of stability but in fact cause more harm. Consider schooling, at least in the US. We first eviscerated public education by defunding it, except in the wealthiest districts, and then created a demand for (exploitative, ruinous, substandard) … [more]
yasminnair  2017  society  manifestos  left  love  compassion  justice  socialjustice  utopia  ideology  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  government  excess  abundance  hunger  healthcare  gender  race  racism  sexism  homophobia  neoliberalism  capitalism  feminism  systems  sytemsthinking  socialism  communism  migration  immigration  donaldtrump  barackobama  hillaryclinton  resistance  future  climatechange  neighborhoods  gentrification  chicago  privatization  class  classism  poverty  sexuality  intersectionality  compromise  change  organization  economics 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
More Seymours than Women: Imaginaries of Tomorrow - Long View on Education
"In Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon’s 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning, they present their imaginary about tomorrow: “Experts who study the world of work are growing more and more concerned that current systems of education are increasingly irrelevant when it comes to the preparation of students for what is a fast-changing and uncertain future of employment. … Regardless what the future holds, there is little doubt success in the future will first and foremost depend on one’s ability to learn, not on one’s accumulation of knowledge.”

Elsewhere, Richardson writes that “The most successful workers in the future will be those who are used to thinking and acting entrepreneurially. Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter suggests that a winning strategy for the future of work is to be able to ‘design your own profession and convince employers that you are exactly what they need.’ Or, as The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s recent column declared, ‘Need a job? Invent it.'”

So, in their imaginary, success is tied to ability to learn, entrepreneurship, flexibility, and self-sufficiency. As I write in a recent review, this idea of education is premised on leaving people behind. The Disappointed Idealist makes a strong case that education as social mobility is based theories of the undeserving poor. Writing about their own children, they note:
“Yet their likely outcomes, their aspirations, and even the place they live – a seaside English town – are routinely condemned as failures by the dominant educational discourse. Unless they get results they can’t get, aspire to jobs they don’t want, and move to a place they do not wish to live in, then they have failed the social mobility test. They are undeserving. And the conditions which our society reserves for those who cannot or will not ‘escape’ from the reality of their lives are grim, and getting grimmer: zero-hours contracts, below-poverty pay, insecure housing, a punitive benefits system, and the gradual withdrawal of all manner of support from education, health and social services.”

So, we face a futurist deficit that we must address, not by keeping the same questions and filling out the ranks with ‘diverse’ people, but by asking better questions. In an article called Where are the Black Futurists?(2000), the author (listed as ‘Black Issues’) reflects on an all white male C-SPAN futurist panel:
“there are too many people talking about the future without considering the future of African Americans and other people of color.

By not considering us, is the majority implicitly suggesting that we don’t matter? Do they think that as America ages, we will continue to play the traditional service and support roles for their communities? When I hear estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor that we’ll need nearly a million home health aides in the next decade, and I know that most home health aides now are Black and Brown women, I conclude that unless the wage structure changes, the future implications for those women and their families are frightening.

But the futurists mainly seem to be predicting what an aging society will need without predicting who will provide it.”

I write from a privileged position, working in a well-resourced and professionally supportive international school. My students have sources of privilege and power in their lives, and I’m pretty confident that many will be able to fit into the standard futurist imaginaries because of a good education and how privilege has shaped their life chances. It’s especially because of my context that I resist the imaginaries that will leave many behind. Schools need to change and be better to serve youth, and not just serve them up to grim futurist imaginaries."
benjamindoxtdator  diversity  gender  education  thoughtleaders  willrichardson  brucedixon  privilege  power  economics  futurism  futurists  future  edtech  labor  society  inequality  capitalism  2017  californianideology 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
SOLARPUNK : A REFERENCE GUIDE – Solarpunks – Medium
"Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share. At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle.
In progress…"

[See also:
http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/165763925033/solarpunk-a-reference-guide-solarpunks

"This page is an attempt to open up the optics of the Solarpunk community/genre for newcomers and others looking for references. A lot of the early discussions happened on tumblr dot com from 2014 onward after @missolivialouise‘s character concept post took off — with a core community of stewards who know who they are.

What follows is not meant to be an exhaustive list but hopefully will increasingly become one. We’re also aware that we are missing almost all of the art references from this list. :(

We also didn’t include any posts from us here at http://solarpunks.tumblr.com

Please get in touch (DM) with art and their references as a lot of content has lost their attribution  — @thejaymo"]
solarpunk  reference  speculativefiction  art  fashion  activism  sustainability  civilization  utopia  dystopia  optimism  kindness  future  futurism 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ellen Ullman: Life in Code: "A Personal History of Technology" | Talks at Google - YouTube
"The last twenty years have brought us the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside that rising culture of technology, and in Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

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

Twenty years later, the story Ullman recounts is neither one of unbridled triumph nor a nostalgic denial of progress. It is necessarily the story of digital technology’s loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and it is a personal reckoning with all that has changed, and so much that hasn’t. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty."
ellenullman  bias  algorithms  2017  technology  sexism  racism  age  ageism  society  exclusion  perspective  families  parenting  mothers  programming  coding  humans  humanism  google  larrypage  discrimination  self-drivingcars  machinelearning  ai  artificialintelligence  literacy  reading  howweread  humanities  education  publicschools  schools  publicgood  libertarianism  siliconvalley  generations  future  pessimism  optimism  hardfun  kevinkelly  computing 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
EyeMyth
"Exploring present and future cases of immersive storytelling and new media, EyeMyth brings together pioneering artists, performers and experts at the forefront of these fields. 

EyeMyth’s 2017 edition, Future As Fiction, traversed multiple locations in Mumbai to create, discover and engage with new elements in the digital space. The festival featured an array of exhibitions, workshops and performances that explored various forms of expression through new media."

[via: "Cool to see our comrades in Mumbai doing strange and interesting things in the futures/fiction/festival space: https://eyemyth.unboxfestival.com/ "
https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/914105328266022912 ]
mumbai  designfiction  speculativefiction  future  futurism  storytelling  newmedia  technology  vr  ar  augmentedreality 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
An Xiao Busingye Mina en Instagram: “This behemoth of an agricultural drone got me thinking: we are really just at the beginning of what will be a big big world of civilian…”
"This behemoth of an agricultural drone got me thinking: we are really just at the beginning of what will be a big big world of civilian drones. We are just warming up with the hobbyist and filmmaker stuff."
anxiaomina  drones  agriculture  future  2017 
august 2017 by robertogreco
some thoughts on the humanities - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"The idea that underlies Bakhtin’s hopefulness, that makes discovery and imagination essential to the work of the humanities, is, in brief, Terence’s famous statement, clichéd though it may have become: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. To say that nothing human is alien to me is not to say that everything human is fully accessible to me, fully comprehensible; it is not to erase or even to minimize cultural, racial, or sexual difference; but it is to say that nothing human stands wholly outside my ability to comprehend — if I am willing to work, in a disciplined and informed way, at the comprehending. Terence’s sentence is best taken not as a claim of achievement but as an essential aspiration; and it is the distinctive gift of the humanities to make that aspiration possible.

It is in this spirit that those claims that, as we have noted, emerged from humanistic learning, must be evaluated: that our age is postmodern, posthuman, postsecular. All the resources and practices of the humanities — reflective and critical, inquiring and skeptical, methodologically patient and inexplicably intuitive — should be brought to bear on these claims, and not with ironic detachment, but with the earnest conviction that our answers matter: they are, like those master concepts themselves, both diagnostic and prescriptive: they matter equally for our understanding of the past and our anticipating of the future."
alanjacobs  posthumanism  2016  humanities  understanding  empathy  postmodernism  postsecularism  georgesteiner  kennethburke  foucault  stephengrenblatt  via:lukeneff  erikdavis  raykurzweil  claudeshannon  mikhailbakhtin  terence  difference  comprehension  aspiration  progress  listening  optimism  learning  inquiry  history  future  utopia  michelfoucault 
july 2017 by robertogreco
9 tools to navigate an 'uncertain future,' from new book, Whiplash - TechRepublic
[See also:

"Joi Ito’s 9 Principles of the Media Lab"
https://vimeo.com/99160925

"Joi Ito Co-Author of Whiplash: How To Survive Our Faster Future"
https://archive.org/details/Joi_Ito_Co-Author_of_Whiplash_-_How_To_Survive_Our_Faster_Future ]

""Humans are perpetually failing to grasp the significance of their own creations," write Joi Ito and Jeff Howe in Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future. In the new title, released today, Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Howe, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and Wired contributor, make the case that technology moves faster than our ability to understand it.

As technology quickly advances, it's important to separate inventions from use: Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, but it was Eldridge Reeves Johnson who brought it into homes and laid the groundwork for the modern recording industry. In the same way, we often don't know how modern technology—from the iPhone to the Oculus Rift—will truly be used after it is created. "What technology actually does, the real impact it will have on society, is often that which we least expect," write the authors.

Drawing from a series of case studies and research, the authors offer nine guidelines for living in our new, fast-paced world. The principles, writes Joi Ito, are often displayed on a screen at the MIT Media Lab's main meeting room.

1. Emergence over authority
According to the authors, the Internet is transforming our "basic attitude toward information," moving away from the opinions of the few and instead giving voice to the many. Emergence, they argue, is a principle that captures the power of a collective intelligence. Another piece here, the authors say, is reflected in the availability of free online education, with platforms such as edX, and communities like hackerspace that pave the way for skill-building and innovation.

2. Pull over push
Safecast, an open environmental data platform which emerged from Kickstarter funding, a strong network of donors, and citizen scientists, was an important public project that helped residents of Fukushima learn how radiation was spreading. The collaborative effort here, known as a "pull strategy," the authors argue, shows a new way of compiling resources for real-time events. "'Pull' draws resources from participants' networks as they need them, rather than stockpiling materials and information," write the authors. In terms of management, it can be a way to reduce spending and increase flexibility, they write. For the entrepreneur, it is "the difference between success and failure. As with emergence over authority, pull strategies exploit the reduced cost of innovation that new methods of communication, prototyping, fundraising and learning have made available."

3. Compasses over maps
This principle has "the greatest potential for misunderstanding," the authors write. But here's the idea: "A map implies detailed knowledge of the terrain, and the existence of an optimum route; the compass is a far more flexible tool and requires the user to employ creativity and autonomy in discovering his or her own path." This approach, the authors say, can offer a mental framework that allows for new discoveries. It's a bit like the "accidental invention" method Pagan Kennedy noticed when researching for her New York Times magazine column, "Who Made This?"

4. Risk over safety
As traditional means of manufacturing and communicating have slowed due to tech like 3D printing and the internet, "enabling more people to take risks on creating new products and businesses, the center of innovation shifts to the edges," write the authors. They spent time trying to find the reasons for the success of the Chinese city Shenzhen, one of the world's major manufacturing hubs for electronics. Its power, they found, lies in its "ecosystem," the authors write, which includes "experimentation, and a willingness to fail and start again from scratch."

5. Disobedience over compliance
Disobedience is, in part, woven into the DNA of the MIT Media Lab. Great inventions, the authors write, don't often happen when people are following the rules. Instead of thinking about breaking laws, the authors challenge us to think about "whether we should question them." Last July, to put this principle to the test, the MIT Media Lab hosted a conference called "Forbidden Research," which explored everything from robot sex to genetically modified organisms. It was a chance to move past the "acceptable" parameters of academic dialogue and bring rigorous dialogue to issues that will surely have an impact on humanity.

6. Practice over theory
"In a faster future, in which change has become a new constant, there is often a higher cost to waiting and planning than there is to doing and improvising," write the authors. We live in a world in which failure is an important, and sometimes essential, part of growth—but that can only happen when we get out there and start putting our ideas into action. The approach, the authors write, can apply to anything from software to manufacturing to synthetic biology.

7. Diversity over ability
Research shows that diverse groups, working together, are more successful than homogenous ones. And diversity has become a central piece in the philosophy of many schools, workplaces, and other institutions. "In an era in which your challenges are likely to feature maximum complexity...it's simply good management, which marks a striking departure from an age when diversity was presumed to come at the expense of ability," write the authors.

8. Resilience over strength
Large companies, the authors write, have, in the past, "hardened themselves against failure." But this approach is misguided. "Organizations resilient enough to successfully recover from failures also benefit from an immune-system effect," they write. The mistakes actually help systems build a way to prevent future damage. "There is no Fort Knox in a digital age," the authors write. "Everything that can be hacked will, at some point, be hacked."

9. Systems over objects
How can we build accurate weather forecasts in an age of climate change? Or trustworthy financial predictions amid political changes? These types of issues illustrate why it may be worth "reconstructing the sciences entirely," according to neuroscientist Ed Boyden, quoted in the book, who proposes we move from "interdisciplinary" to "omnidisciplinary" in solving complex problems. Boyden went on to win the Breakthrough Prize, awarded by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech giants, for his novel development of optogenetics, in which neurons can be controlled by shining a light."
joiito  future  emergence  authority  safecast  systems  systemsthinking  small  agility  agile  donellameadows  jayforrester  influence  risk  safety  disobedience  compliance  autonomy  reslilience  decentralization  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  self-organization  practice  theory  arabspring  ruleoflaw  jeffhowe  networks  mitmedialab  collectivism  collectiveintelligence  compasses  institutions  invention  innovation  failure  scale  diversity  ability  heterogeneity  homogeneity  management  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  omnidisciplinary  complexity  internet  web  attention  edboyden  climatechange 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says? - The Atlantic
"Over the past decade, most researchers have trended away from climate doomsdayism. They cite research suggesting that people respond better to hopeful messages, not fatalistic ones; and they meticulously fact-check public descriptions of global warming, as watchful for unsupported exaggeration as they are for climate-change denial.

They do this not because they think that climate change will be peachy. They do it because they want to be exceptionally careful with facts for such a vital issue. And many of them, too, think that a climate-changed world will look less like a starved wasteland and more like our current home—just more unequal and more impoverished.

What does that world look like? We got a fairly good look late last month, actually, when a new consortium of economists and scientists called the Climate Impact Lab published their first study in the journal Science. Their research looks at how global warming will afflict Americans economically, on a county-by-county level. It tells a frightening but much more mundane story.

Climate change, they say, will not turn us into idiots before broiling us in our sleep. Instead, it will act as a kind of ecological reverse Robin Hood, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. It will impoverish many of the poorest communities in the country—arrayed across the South and Southwest, and especially along the Gulf Coast—while increasing the fortunes of cities and suburbs on both of the coasts.

“This study—the climate equivalent of being informed that smoking carries serious risk of lung cancer—should be enough to motivate us,” says Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University. “The NYMag article is the climate equivalent of being told that everyone in the world’s life will end in the most grisly, worst-case possible scenario if we keep on smoking.”

The Climate Impact Labs’ accounting is a much likelier view of what is “much more likely to occur than the doomsday scenario,” she added.

Other communicators reject Wallace-Wells’s approach for a third reason: He glosses over the many reasons that climate advocates now have hope. Many of these criticisms came not from researchers but from other climate communicators. “Through combo of exaggeration and hopelessness, [the NYMag piece] turns away those in the middle we need to persuade. It makes action harder,” tweeted Ramez Naam, a technologist and novelist. “We’ve made huge climate strides. Business-as-usual used to mean six or seven degrees Celsius or warming. Now it looks like three to four, and [it’s] trending down.”

Chuck Wendig, another novelist, called the story irresponsible. “It leans very hard on the EXTINCTION PORN angle, and almost not at all on the BUT HERE'S WHAT WE DO angle,” he said on Twitter.

I’m not so sure about this last angle. I have been writing about climate change nearly full-time for several years now. I don’t think journalists should frame the truth to better inspire people—that’s not our job.

But I vacillate considerably on the doom versus no-doom question. Consider what Wallace-Wells writes about climate change and war:
Researchers like Marshall Burke and Solomon Hsiang have managed to quantify some of the non-obvious relationships between temperature and violence: For every half-degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict. In climate science, nothing is simple, but the arithmetic is harrowing: A planet five degrees warmer would have at least half again as many wars as we do today. Overall, social conflict could more than double this century.

That final sentence is simplistic; we cannot wield careful social science conclusions like an abacus. It is also too certain: While Burke and Hsiang have found links between conflict and climate change, another group of researchers from Oslo have found far weaker connections. They observe a link between natural disaster and war only when a country is divided by ethnicity.

Yet this is worrisome by itself. Consider the world that climate scientists say is more realistic: a place where sea levels cause mass migration within and without the developed world; where the economy is never great but isn’t in shambles either; where voters fear for their livelihoods and superpowers poke at each others’ weaknesses.

Does that world sound like a safe and secure place to live? Does it sound like a workable status quo? And how many small wars need to start in that world before they all fuse together? Who needs planet-killing methane burps when nine different countries have 15,000 nuclear weapons between them? In short, there are plenty of doomsday scenarios to worry about. They don’t need to be catastrophic on their face to induce catastrophe."
2017  accuracy  reporting  climate  environment  future  climatechange  sustainability  inequality  robinsonmeyer  davidwallace-wells  science  communication  journlism  dystopia  doom  doomsdayism  exaggeration 
july 2017 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to 'jobs that don't exist yet' - Long View on Education
"Perhaps most importantly, the Future of Jobs relies on the perspective of CEOs to suggest that Capital has lacked input into the shape and direction of education. Ironically, the first person I found to make the claim about the future of jobs – Devereux C. Josephs – was both Businessman of the Year (1958) and the chair of Eisenhower’s President’s Committee on Education Beyond High School. More tellingly, in his historical context, Josephs was able to imagine a more equitable future where we shared in prosperity rather than competed against the world’s underprivileged on a ‘flat’ field.

The Political Shift that Happened

While the claim is often presented as a new and alarming fact or prediction about the future, Devereux C. Josephs said much the same in 1957 during a Conference on the American High School at the University of Chicago on October 28, less than a month after the Soviets launched Sputnik. If Friedman and his ‘flat’ earth followers were writing then, they would have been up in arms about the technological superiority of the Soviets, just like they now raise the alarm about the rise of India and China. Josephs was a past president of the Carnegie Corporation, and at the time served as Chairman of the Board of the New York Life Insurance Company.

While critics of the American education system erupted after the launch of Sputnik with calls to go back to basics, much as they would again decades later with A Nation at Risk (1983), Josephs was instead a “besieged defender” of education according to Okhee Lee and Michael Salwen. Here’s how Joseph’s talked about the future of work:
“We are too much inclined to think of careers and opportunities as if the oncoming generations were growing up to fill the jobs that are now held by their seniors. This is not true. Our young people will fill many jobs that do not now exist. They will invent products that will need new skills. Old-fashioned mercantilism and the nineteenth-century theory in which one man’s gain was another man’s loss, are being replaced by a dynamism in which the new ideas of a lot of people become the gains for many, many more.”4

Josephs’ claim brims with optimism about a new future, striking a tone which contrasts sharply with the Shift Happens video and its competitive fear of The Other and decline of Empire. We must recognize this shift that happens between then and now as an erasure of politics – a deletion of the opportunity to make a choice about how the abundant wealth created by automation – and perhaps more often by offshoring to cheap labor – would be shared.

The agentless construction in the Shift Happens version – “technologies that haven’t been invented yet” – contrasts with Josephs’ vision where today’s youth invent those technologies. More importantly, Josephs imagines a more equitable socio-technical future, marked not by competition, but where gains are shared. It should go without saying that this has not come to pass. As productivity shot up since the 1950’s, worker compensation has stagnated since around 1973.

In other words, the problem is not that Capital lacks a say in education, but that corporations and the 0.1% are reaping all the rewards and need to explain why. Too often, this explanation comes in the form of the zombie idea of a ‘skills gap’, which persists though it keeps being debunked. What else are CEOs going to say – and the skills gap is almost always based on an opinion survey  – when they are asked to explain stagnating wages?5

Josephs’ essay echoes John Maynard Keynes’ (1930) in his hope that the “average family” by 1977 “may take some of the [economic] gain in the form of leisure”; the dynamism of new ideas should have created gains for ‘many, many more’ people. Instead, the compensation for CEOs soared as the profit was privatized even though most of the risk for innovation was socialized by US government investment through programs such as DARPA.6"



"Audrey Watters has written about how futurists and gurus have figured out that “The best way to invent the future is to issue a press release.” Proponents of the ‘skills agenda’ like the OECD have essentially figured out how to make “the political more pedagogical”, to borrow a phrase from Henry Giroux. In their book, Most Likely to Succeed, Tony Wagner and billionaire Ted Dintersmith warn us that “if you can’t invent (and reinvent) your own job and distinctive competencies, you risk chronic underemployment.” Their movie, of the same title, repeats the hollow claim about ‘jobs that haven’t been invented yet’. Ironically, though Wagner tells us that “knowledge today is a free commodity”, you can only see the film in private screenings.

I don’t want to idealize Josephs, but revisiting his context helps us understand something about the debate about education and the future, not because he was a radical in his times, but because our times are radical.

In an interview at CUNY (2015), Gillian Tett asks Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Krugman what policy initiatives they would propose to deal with globalization, technology, and inequality.9 After Sachs and Krugman propose regulating finance, expanding aid to disadvantaged children, creating a robust social safety net, reforming the tax system to eliminate privilege for the 0.1%, redistributing profits, raising wages, and strengthening the position of labor, Tett recounts a story:
“Back in January I actually moderated quite a similar event in Davos with a group of CEOs and general luminaries very much not just the 1% but probably the 0.1% and I asked them the same question. And what they came back with was education, education, and a bit of digital inclusion.”

Krugman, slightly lost for words, replies: “Arguing that education is the thing is … Gosh… That’s so 1990s… even then it wasn’t really true.”

For CEOs and futurists who say that disruption is the answer to practically everything, arguing that the answer lies in education and skills is actually the least disruptive response to the problems we face. Krugman argues that education emerges as the popular answer because “It’s not intrusive. It doesn’t require that we have higher taxes. It doesn’t require that CEOs have to deal with unions again.” Sachs adds, “Obviously, it’s the easy answer for that group [the 0.1%].”

The kind of complex thinking we deserve about education won’t come in factoids or bullet-point lists of skills of the future. In fact, that kind of complex thinking is already out there, waiting."



"Stay tuned for the tangled history of the claim if you're into that sort of thing..."
benjamindoxtdator  2017  inequality  education  credentialing  productivity  economics  society  statistics  audreywatters  billclinton  democrats  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  capitalism  johndewey  andreasschleicher  kerifacer  lindadarling-hammond  worldeconomicforum  oecd  labor  work  futurism  future  scottmcleod  karlfisch  richardriley  ianjukes  freetrade  competition  andrewold  michaelberman  thomasfriedman  devereuxjosephs  anationatrisk  sputnik  coldwar  okheelee  michaelsalwen  ussr  sovietunion  fear  india  china  russia  johnmaynardkeynes  leisure  robots  robotics  rodneybrooks  doughenwood  jobs  cwrightmills  henrygiroux  paulkrugman  gilliantett  jeffreysachs  policy  politics  globalization  technology  schools  curriculum  teddintersmith  tonywagner  mostlikelytosuccess  success  pedagogy  cathydavidson  jimcarroll  edtech 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Cassandra Plays the Stock Market | Quiet Babylon
"I imagined her playing the stock market. She starts buying dot-coms in 1994 and gets out in 2000. She sees the housing crisis from miles away and has sold all her subprime holding by early 2008.

But her story is a tragedy, so then I imagined her getting put away for insider trading. They don’t have any solid evidence, but no one believes her defence and the jury becomes certain she’s guilty. She’s the only person punished for the collapse of the banking system. Thankfully, it’s a white collar crime so pretty soon, she gets out. She’s like Martha Stewart.

I feel like I know a lot of people who kind of see themselves as a Cassandra. I feel that way sometimes, myself. We look at the world, we notice a lot of obviously terrible decisions that people and institutions are making, we point out that things won’t go well, no one listens to us, and then things don’t go well. We console ourselves that we’d seen it coming. It’s kind of a romantic feeling. You feel like you’re smarter than most people.

I was talking to my wife Pamela about all this and she gently pointed out that in my white-collar retelling, I’d missed the whole point of the Cassandra myth. In the story, things don’t go at all well for Cassandra. Her city burns. She is assaulted and kidnapped and eventually killed by the invaders. Cassandra doesn’t get to insulate herself from the worst of it. She suffers the consequences along with everyone else.

She is bound to the fate of her people. As we are bound to the fate of ours.

It’s not good enough to be right.

A funny thing has happened in my professional circles since the election.

In the wake of these terrible events, pretty much all of my colleagues have discovered the renewed importance of whatever it is we were working on in the first place. I, of course, have discovered the renewed importance of understanding the role of fiction and speculation in shaping the future of the world. I think we should be suspicious about this.

At the place where I work — a university — there has been a particular renewal in talking about how important it is that we teach everyone more critical thinking. The feeling is that the outcome of this election is the result of people being duped, and that if they’d had better critical thinking skills, that people would have been somehow inoculated against the bad ideas, and better able to think for themselves (and vote the way we thought they should).

I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit hanging around the online communities of the kind of people we are worried about reaching here, and I am here to tell you: They are using their critical thinking skills.

They are fully literate in concepts like bias and in the importance of interrogating sources. They believe very much in the power of persuasion and the dangers in propaganda and a great many of them believe that we are the ones who have been behaving uncritically and who have been duped. They think that we are the unbelieving victims of fraud.

Which is not to set up some kind of false equivalency between sides. But I do want us to consider the possibility that we don’t need to talk across that barrier, and that it might not be possible to talk across it. That we need to consider that if it’s true that vast swaths of the voting populace are unbelieving victims of fraud, that there’s not much we can do for them. That we may need instead to work to invigorate our allies, discourage our enemies, and save the persuasion for people right on the edge.

But, again, I’m saying all of this to you as someone who has not figured this out."
timmaly  future  futurism  speculation  cassandra  2017  fraud  kazysvarnelis  robertsumrell  gigurdjieff  belief  criticalthinking  allies  persuasion  speculativefutures  predictions 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Anab Jain on Twitter: "How might we extend our capacities, becoming more-than-human? Provocative @alxndrt contribution for #howwillwework https://t.co/rZSxLCGTDB"
"How might we extend our capacities, becoming more-than-human? Provocative @alxndrt contribution for #howwillwework"

[photo of this text:

"When it comes to judging the capacities of humans and nonhumans, we are drawn to two modes of existence. In one mode, we are compelled to see capability as residing within an actor, as an intrinsic quality of their being. A favourite determinant is the brain-weight to body-weight ratio; another is genetic predisposition. We have devised all manner of tests to isolate human and nonhuman capacities: IQ tests, rats mazes and Turing tests among them. Naturally, humans come out on top using most counts.

In the second mode, we observe actors excel in their achievements. We allow ourselves to be surprised and delighted by exhibitions of capacity that exceed our expectations (and that contravene the first mode in so many ways). To find evidence of this mode, one need only turn to that vast repository of record and observation, YouTube, and witness the viewing numbers for titles like “species [x] and species [y] playing together“, “species [x] and species [y] unlikely friends”, and so on. As these titles suggest, capability is often recognised here as accomplished with others—with other objects, other actors, other critters.

Speculating on human capacities—on what humans might be capable of and how they might work in the future—I find myself asking, as the animal studies scholar Vinciane Despret does, which of these modes is ‘more interesting’ and which ‘makes more interesting’. Which of these modes invites us to speculate on new tabulations of actors of all kinds, of actors becoming-with each other, of becoming other—than-humanly-capable‘ of becoming more capable?

I am taken by the mode that views capability as collectively achieved and that invites those conditions that enlarge capacities through on-going interminglings.

The future of work, through this mode, will be dictated not by the limits of being human, but by how we might best attune ourselves with others, how we might become more capable together.

Alex Taylor. Researcher: Soda-Digital Systems"]
work  future  furtures  anabjain  multispecies  vincianedespret  speculativefutures  humans  animals  capacity  iq  interminglings  interconnectedness  interdependence  collaboration  becomingwith  morethanhuman  alextaylor  superflux 
june 2017 by robertogreco
DIAGRAM >> The Structure of Boredom
"Part III, the structure of boredom, analogously, is as follows: The self (1) relates to the now or present actuality in the mode of immediate experiencing (2). When that present (3) is symbolized as being devoid of values regarded as necessary for one's existence, one experiences boredom (5). Boredom is the awareness that the essential values through which one fulfills himself are not able to be actualized under these present circumstances. To the degree to which these limited values are elevated to absolutes which appear to be unactualizable (6), one is vulnerable to intensive, depressive, demonic boredom."

[via: https://twitter.com/salrandolph/status/877349051049619457 ]
boredom  diagrams  thomasoden  psychology  theology  1969  now  present  awareness  presence  guilt  future  past  anxiety  responsiveness  imagination  trust  emptiness  meaning  meaningmaking 
june 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

The Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Radical Ocean Futures
[via: https://twitter.com/Oniropolis/status/871030625855307778 ]

"INTRODUCING RADICAL OCEAN FUTURES...A COLLABORATIVE #ARTSCIENCE INITIATIVE

Welcome intrepid explorer of the future oceans....

This project is founded on the belief that sometimes science fiction might succeed where scientific papers fall short. It blends art and science and merges scientific fact with creative speculation. The heart of the project is four short 'Radical Ocean Futures.' These are scientifically grounded narratives of potential future oceans. Each narrative is supported by both a visual and a musical interpretation to allow multiple entry points and stimulate the imagination. The purpose of this project is to explore tools that can help us to think creatively and imaginatively about our future oceans and assess how unexpected changes, along with human responses to those changes, may play out in a complex world that is, at its heart, surprising.

This project was financed through a science communications grant from The Swedish Research Council Formas and was featured online in WIRED."



"
Scenarios can help individuals, communities, corporations and nations to develop a capacity for dealing with the unknown and unpredictable, or the unlikely but possible. A range of scientific methods for developing scenarios is available, but we argue that they have limited capacity to investigate complex social-ecological futures because: 1) non-linear change is rarely incorporated and: 2) they rarely involve co-evolutionary dynamics of integrated social-ecological systems. This manuscript intends to address these two concerns, by applying the method of Science Fiction Prototyping to develop scenarios for the future of global fisheries. We used an empirically informed background on existing and emerging trends in marine natural resource use and dynamics to develop four ‘radical’ futures in a changing global ocean, incorporating and extrapolating from existing environmental, technological, social and economic trends. We argue that the method applied here can complement existing scenario methodologies and assist scientists in developing a holistic understanding of complex systems dynamics. The approach holds promise for making scenarios more accessible and interesting to non-academics and can be useful for developing proactive governance mechanisms."



"Sci-fi narratives - Science-based stories about our future oceans

Oceans back from the brink

FISH Inc

Rime of the last fisherman

Rising tide

Scenario building via science fiction prototyping

The four scenarios are built on a robust foundation of scientific knowledge, including:

1) Technological frontiers

2) Marine ecology, ocean and fisheries science

3) The global fishing and seafood industry

4) Marine management, governance and socio-economic shifts

The scenarios were developed following the method of Science-Fiction Prototyping, developed by Brian David Johnson when he was the futurist at Intel Corporation. Mr Johnson is now the futurist in residence at Arizona State University, Center for Science and the Imagination. This method is described in detail in the scientific paper currently under review at the journal Futures.

We have linked key elements in each of the narrative scenarios to relevant peer-reviewed academic papers, news articles from reputable publications and credible websites to give you the opportunity to explore beyond Radical Ocean Futures. We wish you well on your explorations into the future oceans and the scientific work that helps us to imagine them."



"The beautiful and engaging artworks that are a feature of the Radical Ocean Futures #artscience project were created by the world renowned Swedish concept artist and illustrator Simon Stålenhag. His work has been featured in; The Verge, Gizmodo, Booooooom.com and The Huffington Post among others. He has also successfully kickstarted collections of his work and has a number of exciting new projects in development. He is currently working on his third book.

Right from the beginning, this was a true creative collaboration and the original pieces of concept art that you see on this site, so vividly supporting the narrative scenarios of the future oceans, are the result of this collaboration. Below is a small sampling of his other work. If you would like to have the opportunity to work with Simon or see his iconic body of work, please head over to his website."
oceans  future  scifi  sciencefiction  classideas  designfiction  briandavidjohnson  prototyping  science-fictionprototyping  simonstålenhag  klaluna  kaitlynrathwell  andrewmerrie  patriciakeys  marcmetian  henrikösterblom 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Myth of a Desert Metropolis: Los Angeles was not built in a desert, but are we making it one? – Boom California
"The question is posed like this. You’ve probably heard it or asked it yourself. Perhaps at a cocktail party. Probably not in LA—but hey, maybe even here in the heart of the folly.

Why on Earth would you build a city for millions of souls in a desert?

Someday, and maybe sooner rather than later, the water is going to run out, and Los Angeles will dry up and blow away.

Alex Prud’homme, author of Ripple Effect: The Fate of Water in the Twenty-First Century, prophesied that Perth, Australia, “could become the world’s first ‘ghost city’—a modern metropolis abandoned for lack of water.” And, he warned, “similar fates may await America’s booming desert cities: Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Los Angeles.”[1] Prud’homme’s description of Los Angeles as a “desert city” has a distinguished lineage. Boyle Workman, a 1930s booster, recalled Los Angeles’ “desert” beginnings when he described the Los Angeles Aqueduct as a triumph of human ingenuity and engineering. Workman praised “the men who diverted streams into ditches and fed waving fields of grain, vineyards, glossy orange groves and rich gardens that blossomed where once desert brooded.”[2] A 1977 article by the famed aqueduct critic Remi Nadeau was headlined “Los Angeles is by Far the Largest City Ever Built in a Desert.”[3] And nine years later in Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water,[4] Marc Reisner referred to Los Angeles as being second only to Cairo as the most populous desert city on earth.

The myth of desert Los Angeles suggests that if not for the Los Angeles Aqueduct—and if the city were ever to lose the water that comes from Owens Valley—LA could be Ozymandias: that “colossal wreck, boundless and bare,” around which “the lone and level sands stretch far away,” in the immortal words of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. But is Los Angeles the once and future desert? And should the LA Aqueduct be seen as Mulholland’s greatest gift? Or a curse because it gave rise to an ultimately unsustainable metropolis?

That Los Angeles is a “desert city” is, in large part, a myth. Writers have chipped away at the myth of the desert metropolis before.[5] Here my objective is not simply to dispel the myth but to explore the history that underlies the mythology and to consider its potential for becoming true—because sometimes myths have a strange way of becoming true. Could we, through our own actions, be transforming the myth of desert LA into a self-fulfilling prophecy? It turns out, we have in fact gone a long way down that road.



Water Wars, Real Estate and the Birth of the Desert City Myth

So, where did the “Los Angeles is a desert city” myth originate? Historian Ralph Shaffer has laid the blame on Harrison Gray Otis, the Chandler family, and their use of Los Angeles Times as a propaganda vehicle to secure water and ensure development.[12] However, I think it’s a little more complex than that. In the writings of city boosters during the first real estate boom in the 1880s, one finds no overt reference to Los Angeles as a desert. The following assessment in Los Angeles Times comes from 15 August 1886: “The water supply of Los Angeles is abundant, and while not everything that it should be or can be made, it is better than the water of Boston, Philadelphia, and other Eastern cities.”

There were, however, other forces at work that may have contributed to conceptions of Los Angeles as a desert at the time. The 1877 Desert Lands Act classified as desert those tracts of land that “will not, without irrigation, produce an agricultural crop.”[13] Private citizens could be granted title to such lands if they intended to “reclaim” them through the provision of irrigation waters. The area of Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles was a region of such activity, although it is arguably not a true desert either.[14]

Closer to Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley in the 1880s was explicitly referred to as desert that could be made to bloom with irrigation.[15] Here is one example from Los Angeles Times, on 4 June 1886: “It was said by somebody years ago, that the man who made a blade of grass grow where none grew before was a public benefactor. What can we say of the man who brings water from the bowels of the earth and causes a fresh, pure living stream to flow where there never was one since the world’s creation? Streams shall break out in the desert, and the thirsty lands become pools of water.” We begin to see the desert city myth taking hold in what would become the greater Los Angeles area, appropriately enough in the San Fernando Valley, where water from the LA Aqueduct would enable urban development in the twentieth century.[16]

The image of Los Angeles collapsing and returning to desert can be seen in a remarkable Los Angeles Times article, “When the Desert Came Back,” which was published29 May 1927, just twelve years after the aqueduct first brought water to the city. Nathaniel Davis’s ostensible subject was the Roman ruins at Timgad, Algeria, but he used the occasion to warn about the potential environmental collapse of Los Angeles and the need for the conservation of water and surrounding forest lands. Uncannily, his voice can seem to speak directly to us from over eighty years ago about topics starkly relevant today. As many would do after him, Davis employed the desert motif in his plea: “I stood on the heights of Hollywood’s hills and looked seaward and then toward the mountains. It is a stirring panorama, a drama in orchards, steel and stone, and brawn and brain and heart. And I was pessimistic enough to imagine that self-confident Los Angeles had forgotten Babylon, Palmyra, Palestine, China and Timgad. What I now saw was our own beloved land. And I saw sand dunes, sage brush, aridity, stately ruins, idle derricks, desolation.” Much of what has since been written about Los Angeles’ fated return to desert echoes this refrain.

What About William Mulholland?

But what about William Mulholland, the father of the LA Aqueduct? Did he ever subscribe to this view of the desert city? Or use it to sell the aqueduct? In 1905, Mulholland claimed that he originally thought the city would never need water from anywhere else. “Thirteen years ago Fred Eaton first told me that Los Angeles would one day secure its water supply from Owens Valley,” Mulholland told Los Angeles Times. “At that time the Los Angeles River was running 40,000,000 gallons of water daily, and we had a population of less than 50,000. I laughed at him. ‘We have enough water here in the river to supply the city for the next fifty years,’ I told him. ‘You are wrong,’ he said, ‘You have not lived in this country as long as I have. I was born here and have seen dry years, years you know nothing about. Wait and see.”’ Mulholland concluded: “Four years ago I began to discover that Fred was right. Our population climbed to the top and the bottom appeared to drop out of the river.”

The cause was drought. Mulholland’s case for the aqueduct was not built on making a barren desert bloom, but accommodating population growth and providing protection against drought, arguments that have been used to justify importing more water to the city ever since.[17]

In 1907, Mulholland urged voters to support bonds that were critical to building the aqueduct, arguing: “Our population has doubled since 1904, while our water supply has diminished. At times we have faced a veritable water famine.”[18] Drought, of course, was no stranger to Angelenos even prior to Mulholland’s arrival. A devastating drought from 1862 to 1865 eviscerated the region’s cattle-based economy.[19] A prolonged dry spell from 1893 to 1904, coupled with dramatic population growth—the city tripled in size during that period—motivated Mulholland’s quest, not a vision of creating a city in the desert.

Myth Made Real?

But are we turning the city into a desert? To see, let’s get a view from on high, above the city, from a satellite orbiting Earth, which gathered data to create an image while I was writing this piece. What has Los Angeles become since the pastoral eighteenth and nineteenth century views we encountered earlier?

Now we see the gray tones of our metropolitan area blanketing the entire Los Angeles basin, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley to the north, and Inland Empire to the east. The San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, which seem so imposing from the ground and separate us from the true desert to the east, appear like tiny green islands in a sea of city and desert. Indeed, because it now veritably merges with Palmdale, Lancaster, Victorville, and Palm Springs, it is the growth of the megacity that encroaches upon the Mojave Desert and not vice versa. The cities merge physically and in terms of the daily flows of people, energy, and commerce. Taken as a whole, Greater Los Angeles has grown from its Mediterranean core outward and has merged with the true deserts to the east. The “fertile vales” that once separated city from desert are no more. This image shows a huge city that blends in with vast deserts to the north and east.

That is not all. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, to which Los Angeles has contributed directly, threaten to bring the true desert climate closer to the city’s core. A recent projection of the impacts of climate change shows the city of Los Angeles warming by some 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of this century, while foothill, mountain, and desert regions could warm even more.[20] At the same time, other models suggest that precipitation patterns are likely to change in ways that will reduce the snowpack in our mountains and diminish our water supply. The result is likely to be increasing general aridity in the Southwest, Southern California, and the Los Angeles region coupled with longer droughts that will tax an already stressed … [more]
losangeles  california  myth  2017  deserts  glenmacdonald  cities  climate  history  williammulholland  realestate  future  water  landscape  ralphshaffer  propaganda 
may 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - FutureProofing, The Future of the Future
"Does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?

It's said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it's already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it?

Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future."
future  2017  mattnovak  sciencefiction  scifi  timandraharkness  leojohnson  time  technology  learning  howwelive  change  1960s  1950s  alexanerrose  prediction  bigdata  stability  flexibility  adaptability  astroteller  googlex  longnow  longnowfoundation  uncertainty  notknowing  simulation  generativedesign  dubai  museumofthefuture  agency  lawrenceorsini  implants  douglascoupland  belllabs  infrastructure  extremepresent  sfsh  classideas  present  past  history  connectivity  internet  web  online  futurism  futures  smartphones  tv  television  refrigeration  seancarroll 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Future Agency - The Verge
"“It's really easy to freak people out with science fiction. It's a heavy responsibility,” says Tellart co-founder Matt Cottam when I first meet him and Scappaticci at the company’s New York outpost, located in the corner of a Chelsea loft. He cites a maxim from the author and New School sociology instructor Barbara Adams: “Every act of future making is an act of future taking." Cottam continues, “While creating a high fidelity image of the future may broaden people's imagination for what's possible, it can also really narrow their perception of what's possible or what their options are.”"



"The agencies are paid to adapt unstable emerging technologies to marketing and branding efforts, and in the process normalize and commodify them for a mainstream audience. If you see facial recognition technology at the Museum of Future Government Services, for example, then you might not be so shocked when it actually shows up in airport security. The experiential fiction acclimatizes you to the future in advance."
sciencefiction  scifi  future  futurism  2017  kylechaykra  google  microsoft  googlecreativelab  microsoftresearch  tellart  museumofthefuture  design 
april 2017 by robertogreco
What Does It Mean to Become Californian? – Boom California
"What does it mean to become Californian? It means being witness to an epic bender—a 169-year binge lubricated by gold, cattle, wheat, oil, suburban housing, the Cold War, and a marketing campaign of seductive power. At every stage of its history, each of the state’s exploitable ecologies has been dressed up as another paradise, pandering to the latest wave of hopelessly intoxicated newcomers. The come-on that seduced them—the elemental promises of health, wealth, and happiness in the sunshine—is the California Dream. For Joan Didion, the state’s renowned exile, there is in that dream a “dangerous dissonance…a slippage” between what we desire and who we are.1

The official story of California is told as a pageant of bonanzas, but belief in the official story requires forgetting so much. We want the story to record what had been hard won, but it’s actually full of lucky accidents. We bought the Californian sales pitch, but we became remorseful buyers afterward. We want to be Californian, but we don’t want to earn it.

These paradoxes were built into the subdivisions that absorbed thirteen million dream seekers between 1940 and 1970—the great years when California retailed to America its mix of Arcadian ease and technocratic élan. The greatest paradox is, of course, that the success in getting so much from California has been turned into so much loss. Californians tend to use the state’s compromised environment as the screen on which to project what they can no longer find in California—something missing from becoming Californian—and the suburbs, the traffic, and the presence of too many of us are said to be the cause. But perhaps what Californians can no longer find is in themselves, in what they lost by becoming Californian. We forget that the California Dream didn’t come with a moral compass.

I cannot say that the dream did not serve us. It provided the goods of a middle-class life to millions, including me. It remixed popular culture in exciting ways. It built beautiful and lasting things—and the dream still inspires. A neighbor of mine—with a tract house, two grown daughters, and a husband who is a teacher—wonders if it means anything to say that the dream is ending. “They’ve been saying that for thirty years at least. It hasn’t ended yet,” she told me.

Kevin Starr has written nine volumes of history about California and America’s feverish dream of it, and in 2009 he hadn’t yet reconciled whether California would become a “failed state” or would reinvent itself again, and if reinvention would be another arc of boom to bust to regret. Starr’s faith was in the state’s genetic and cultural rambunctiousness and the possibility that a retooled dream, suitable for a less-Anglo California, will replace the parts of the dream that served us so poorly. But Starr, like many of us, had his doubts.

***

What does it mean to become Californian? It means seeing nature without romance or despair. California has been uniquely intoxicating, but it was also a place on the national periphery in the nineteenth century and far from the familiar place where hearts might feel at home. Merchandising the state’s natural grandeur answered some of Californian longing. From William Henry Jackson in the 1870s through Ansel Adams in the 1950s to the latest coffee-table book, California has produced gorgeous and misleading environmental photography, promoting the view that sacred wildness is out there, unmarred by our presence and ready for our contemplation.

The iconic photographs make the rapturous assumption that none of us was ever here——but we were! We’re sluicing mountains into rivers to get at the gold, taking down forests to build a wood and iron technology gone before our parents were born, erecting groves of derricks over oil fields, extracting harvests from the compliant ground, and assembling communities from tract houses and strip malls. I’m tired of my own sentimentality for landscapes that are rendered either as an open wound or a throat pulled back, ready for the knife. Pity is misplaced if there is no place in it for you or me.

The choice for Californians north and south after the Gold Rush cataclysm was not between nature and its despoiled remnant, but the terms on which our encounter with nature would be framed. The environmentalist John Muir gave nature a privileged autonomy, a kind of green divinity. Frederick Law Olmsted, a builder of New York’s Central Park, concluded that nature in California would never again be sublime, despite what the photographs implied, and that nature must be enmeshed in the community of people living here. Olmsted struggled for a word to describe the tie that might bind a place and its people. He settled on “communitiveness.” It’s an awkward word for something that tries to define both loyalty to one’s neighbors and trusteeship of the land. Olmsted, as Muir and others did, sought to read a redemptive narrative—and something of the wider American experience—into the landscape of California. The Californians who were led here by their longing for the redeeming qualities Muir and Olmsted saw in California’s nature—qualities variously ennobling, consoling, and therapeutic—unalterably changed California.

***

Californians had presumed that California would always deliver whatever they deserved. Now we know California can’t. Even more self-knowledge is needed, now that our revels are ended. If we are to become brave, new Californians, we will begin to dream differently."

What does it mean to become Californian? It means finding that California is increasingly ordinary (for which I’m grateful, because the commonplace is necessarily the place where we find love and hope). But if California isn’t the “great exception,” isn’t the best or worst of places, then how do we describe California when it is not exactly “Californian” anymore, not as alluring or lurid as the clichés of the utopian or dystopian accounts said it was? California is riven—north and south, coastal and inland, urban and rural, valley and foothill—but that which unites these “islands on the land” is the question of what had been gained by becoming Californian.

For Joan Didion, becoming Californian was a prize for leaving the past behind, although the result would be brokenheartedness. For essayist Richard Rodriguez, becoming Californian meant becoming mingled, impure, heterogeneous, and discovering that your color, whatever it is, is just another shade of brown. For the novelist and playwright William Saroyan, becoming Californian was to see this place, finally, as “my native land.” For the two million or more Californians who, in the past two decades, have migrated to “greater California”—which is now located in Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada—becoming Californian meant finding some measure of inadequacy in California. Maybe becoming Californian means laboring to undo the toxic effects of what California has been: a commodity, a trophy of Anglo privilege, and a place of aching, unmet desires.

The Anglo possessors of California after 1847 took on habits that began with the first gold claim staked on the American River and continue each time a house lot changes hands today. Imagine considering those habits with a “truth and reconciliation” commission whose members are a skateboarder, a “mow and blow” gardener, a rap artist, a real estate agent, a vintner, a Gabrieleño elder, a Chinese immigrant, and someone employed in the adult entertainment industry. Maybe becoming Californian means facing a ravenous “hunger of memory”2 and having only California’s clichés to offer.

***

What does it mean to become Californian? It means locating yourself, according to environmental historian Stephanie Pincetl, in a panorama that includes Hollywood, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Big Sur, San Francisco, Disneyland, the redwoods, and Death Valley.3 She might have added Compton, Route 99 from Fresno to Bakersfield, the Silicon Valley, the San Fernando Valley, the Central Valley, and the whole of la frontera from Yuma to the Tijuana. Pincetl included in her list the seductive mirage of El Dorado, the folly that led to all of the state’s ruined paradises. An imagination so spacious as to dwell in all of these Californias requires a different kind of intelligence, attuned to many vernaculars. The alternative is living daily with the experience of estrangement, discontinuity, and forgetfulness.

Californians who need something to stand with them against these disorders might find it in Michel Foucault’s notion of “a particular, local, regional knowledge, a differential knowledge incapable of unanimity.”4 The desire to sustain “ecologies of the vernacular” and live in “habitats of memory” may be the new requirement for becoming Californian.

Foucault distantly echoes Josiah Royce’s notion of a Higher Provincialism,5 which finds the potential for moral order in a shared sense of place and in the common habits of being there. This embodied knowledge becomes “critical regionalism”6 in turning away from the comforts of nostalgia toward “interrogating the local and proximate precisely in order to demonstrate its universality, its connectedness, and its differences with the wider world.”7

California happened to the world in 1849, and in the rush to extract something from becoming Californian, the world—in the form of every race and ethnicity—met itself here.8 The meeting was chaotic, brutal, often tragic, and sometimes redemptive, and its energies are not yet spent. For all its potential to create a hybrid American (and, I believe, a better one), the collision left Californians haunted by the spirit of El Dorado—the illusion that being Californian requires being perpetually the object of someone else’s desire.

To become truly Californian, dwellers here will recover from that malign dream to “awaken the stories that sleep in … [more]
california  future  djwaldie  kevinstarr  2017  foucault  josiahroyce  universality  connectedness  difference  diversity  change  history  stephaniepincetl  joandidion  fredericklawolmstead  nature  landscape  johnmuir  goldrush  williamhenryjackson  richardrodriguez  ordinariness  inadequacy  race  ethnicity  commonplace  everyday  michelfoucault 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Bay Area 2050: the BART Metro Map
"Introduction
The BART Metro Map consolidates the Bay Area’s existing transit — currently spread over two dozen different transit agencies — and aggregates proposed, planned, and under-construction projects. The map envisions a “best-case scenario,” in which every proposal currently under consideration around the Bay has been funded and constructed (wishful thinking, of course). As we trudge down Geary on the 38, jam ourselves into rush hour BART, or as CalTrain experiences yet another delay, this map imagines an integrated, reliable, and truly regional transit future.

Purpose
The Bay Area has over two dozen different transit agencies. The lack of coordination and the competition for funds costs our region economically both in terms of inefficient government spending on poorly planned routes, and lost productivity due to poor service for commuters. In addition, as the population in nearly every city around the Bay grows, it is clear that our current infrastructure is inadequate to handle future growth, much less the recent tech boom. Although proposals and plans have sprung up left and right to augment transit capacity and service in the 9 counties, in isolation it can be difficult to visualize how these different projects would improve transportation in the Bay.

I’ve created this map to help people understand what is being considered and what our transit future could look like with more funding and more commitment from local governments. You can also take a look at SPUR’s hypothetical unified Bay Area rail map and CalUrbanist’s map of current regional rail.

Jump below for a comprehensive list of the projects referenced in this map, as well as an explanation of the style."

[See also: http://sf.curbed.com/2016/6/23/12017204/bart-metro-map-bay-area-future-plans

Another project: http://www.jakecoolidgecartography.com/regional-rapid-transit-bay-area.html

And more: http://www.jakecoolidgecartography.com/regional-rapid-transit-bay-area.html
]
maps  mapping  bart  muni  sanfrancisco  bayarea  trains  transit  publictransit  2050  future  adamsusaneck  spur  caltrain  classideas 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Parable Of The Sower – Not 1984 – Is The Dystopia For Our Age – Nnedi Okorafor
"Following US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s classic dystopia 1984 jumped to number one on Amazon’s list of best-selling books, just the latest sign of the genre’s current popularity.

But Nigerian-American World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor said 1984 is not the dystopia that feels most relevant to her at this point in history. “After everything that happened, I’m not reading 1984, I’m not reading Fahrenheit 451, I’m not reading A Handmaid’s Tale. I’m reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I feel like if we’re looking for any answers or where we’re going, it’s definitely in Octavia’s work.”

Speaking to The Stream on Al Jazeera, Okorafor read from the African-American novelist’s 1998 sequel, the Nebula-winning Parable of the Talents, which features a presidential candidate, Andrew Steele Jarret, who rises to power by promising, like Trump, to “make America great again,” and whose supporters are known to form mobs to burn and feather and tar those who don’t “quite match Jarret’s version of Christianity.”

Okorafor added that “the definition of dystopia depends on the group of people.” The Stream host, Femi Oke, used the regular power cuts in Nigeria as an example, saying, “Not having regular power could be the end of civilisation if you live in Brooklyn but not if you live in Abuja.”

New York Times bestselling Chinese-American author Marie Lu agrees. She lived in Beijing at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests, a period most in the West would have described as dystopian, but says during her time there it felt “like that’s just everyday life.”

Utopias for some are normally dystopias for others. Ron Charles, the fiction editor for The Washington Post, recounts a conversation with a professor of American-American literature. “She said what’s so interesting to her is that white people always think of dystopias as looking forward into this scary future, but black Americans can look back. They’ve already come through their dystopia. They had 200 years of horror and slavery. All the kinds of things we imagine the future dystopia being like are what black Americans already went through.”

Lu takes this further, saying, “There has never been a time in which we have not been living through a dystopia.”

Okorafor’s novels have been described as both dystopian and Afrofuturism, but she doesn’t see a contradiction in the terms. “Afrofuturism isn’t always upbeat,” she says. “A lot of it is in response to the darkness and trying to show the light but a lot of it goes dark… Afrofuturism is very diverse, so pinning it down to being focused on upliftment and being positive is a little short-sighted.”

Asked about what she’s currently working on, Okorafor said she is editing a “not so dark” novel called Remote Control, set in the future in Ghana, dealing with both technology and mysticism.

Watch the full discussion, which also features Dakar-based photographer Fabrice Monteiro, at https://fabricemonteiro.viewbook.com/ "

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQpdYT3jByM ]
dystopia  nnediokorafor  marielu  roncharles  afrofuturism  fabricemonteiro  femioke  2017  present  future  optimism  utopia  1984  georgeorwell  octaviabutler  parableofthesower  civilization 
february 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: A Chronicler of the State, in His Own Words - The New York Times
"Here are just a few highlights from Mr. Starr’s prose and interviews:

On recurring natural disasters (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, 1993)
Southern California has used technology to materialize an imagined society of garden cities and suburbs. Now and then, it must pay a price for its reordering of the environment.

On diversity (San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 10, 2000):
Is there any people on the planet, any language, any religion not represented in California this very morning? ... This diversity, then, is the persistent DNA code of California.

On California’s rising Latino population (New York Times, March 31, 2001):
The Anglo hegemony was only an intermittent phase in California’s arc of identity, extending from the arrival of the Spanish.

On the Central Valley (“Coast of Dreams,” 2004):
Mesopotamia, the rice fields of China, the Po Valley: the Central Valley stood in a long line of irrigation cultures which had, in turn, given birth to civilization itself.

On California at the millennium (“California: A History,” 2005):
California had long since become one of the prisms through which the American people, for better and for worse, could glimpse their future.

On the drought (The New York Times, April 4, 2005):
Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here.

On the Golden Gate Bridge (“Golden Gate,” 2010):
Like the Parthenon, the Golden Gate Bridge seems Platonic in its perfection, as if the harmonies and resolutions of creation as understood by mathematics and abstract thought have been effortlessly materialized through engineering design.
"
kevinstarr  california  diversity  socal  demographics  technology  history  identity  2017  2010  2005  2004  2001  2000  1993  drought  environment  goldengatebridge  engineering  infrastructure  mesopotamia  irrigation  civilization  society  latinos  future 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger on Ways of Seeing, being an artist, and Marxism (2011) - Newsnight archives - YouTube
"John Berger - artist, writer, critic and broadcaster - has died at the age of 90. His best-known work was Ways of Seeing, a criticism of western cultural aesthetics. For Newsnight, Gavin Esler, met him back in 2011."
johnberger  spinoz  descartes  gavinesler  2011  marxism  waysofseeing  seeing  storytelling  lenses  correction  iteration  bento'ssketchbook  looking  culture  aesthetics  future  progress  justice  dignity  capitalism  growth  storytellers  art  artists 
january 2017 by robertogreco
NOVA - Official Website | School of the Future
"How can the science of learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?"



"Program Description
In a new age of information, rapid innovation, and globalization, how can we prepare our children to compete? Once the envy of the world, American schools are now in trouble. Test scores show our kids lag far behind their peers from other industrialized countries, and as the divide between rich and poor grows wider, the goal of getting all kids ready for college and the workforce gets harder by the day. How can the latest research help us fix education in America? Can the science of learning—including new insights from neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators—reveal how kids’ brains work and tell us which techniques are most likely to engage and inspire growing minds? What role should technology play in the classroom? Teachers, students, parents, and scientists take center stage as NOVA explores a new vision for the “School of the Future.”"
schools  education  future  documentary  towatch  2016  globalization  neuroscience  sfsh  learning  howwelearn 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Future of Cities – Medium
[video (embedded): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOOWk5yCMMs ]

"Organic Filmmaking and City Re-Imagining

What does “the future of cities” mean? To much of the developing world, it might be as simple as aspiring to having your own toilet, rather than sharing one with over 100 people. To a family in Detroit, it could mean having non-toxic drinking water. For planners and mayors, it’s about a lot of things — sustainability, economy, inclusivity, and resilience. Most of us can hope we can spend a little less time on our commutes to work and a little more time with our families. For a rich white dude up in a 50th floor penthouse, “the future of cities” might mean zipping around in a flying car while a robot jerks you off and a drone delivers your pizza. For many companies, the future of cities is simply about business and money, presented to us as buzzwords like “smart city” and “the city of tomorrow.”

I started shooting the “The Future of a Cities” as a collaboration with the The Nantucket Project, but it really took shape when hundreds of people around the world responded to a scrappy video I made asking for help.

Folks of all ages, from over 75 countries, volunteered their time, thoughts, work, and footage so that I could expand the scope of the piece and connect with more people in more cities. This strategy saved me time and money, but it also clarified the video’s purpose, which inspired me to put more energy into the project in order to get it right. I was reading Jan Gehl, Jane Jacobs, Edward Glaeser, etc. and getting excited about their ideas — after seeing what mattered to the people I met in person and watching contributions from those I didn’t, the video gained focus and perspective.

If I hired a production services outfit to help me film Mumbai, it would actually be a point of professional pride for the employees to deliver the Mumbai they think I want to see. If some young filmmakers offer to show me around their city and shoot with me for a day, we’re operating on another level, and a very different portrait of a city emerges. In the first scenario, my local collaborators get paid and I do my best to squeeze as much work out of the time period paid for as possible. In the second, the crew accepts more responsibility but gains ownership, hopefully leaving the experience feeling more empowered.

Architect and former mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner famously said “if you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeros.” It’s been my experience that this sustainability often goes hand-in-hand with humanity, and part of what I love about working with less resources and money is that it forces you to treat people like human beings. Asking someone to work with less support or equipment, or to contribute more time for less money, requires a mutual understanding between two people. If each person can empathize for the other, it’s been my experience that we’ll feel it in the work — both in the process and on screen.

Organic filmmaking requires you to keep your crew small and your footprint light. You start filming with one idea in mind, but the idea changes each day as elements you could never have anticipated inform the bigger picture. You make adjustments and pursue new storylines. You edit a few scenes, see what’s working and what’s not, then write new scenes. Shoot those, cut them in, then go back and write more. Each part of the process talks to the other. The movie teaches itself to be a better movie. Because organic is complicated, it can be tricky to defend and difficult to scale up, but because it’s cheap and low-resource, it’s easier to experiment. Learning about the self-organizing, living cities that I did on this project informed how we made the video. And looking at poorly planned urban projects reminded me of the broken yet prevailing model for making independent film in the U.S., where so many films are bound to fail — often in a way a filmmaker doesn’t recover from — before they even begin.

Jane Jacobs said that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” I’ve worked on videos for companies, for the guy in the penthouse, for nobody in particular, in the developing world, with rich people and poor people, for me, for my friends, and for artists. I’m so thankful for everybody who allowed me to make this film the way we did, and I hope the parallels between filmmaking and city building — where the stakes are so much higher — aren’t lost on anyone trying to make their city a better place. We should all be involved. The most sustainable future is a future that includes us all.

“The Future of Cities” Reading List

(There’s a longer list I discovered recently from Planetizen HERE but these are the ones I got into on this project — I’m excited to read many more)

The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs
The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser
Cities for People and Life Between Buildings by Jan Gehl
The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life by Jonathan Rose(just came out — incredible)
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck
The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life by Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World by Wade Graham
Connectography: Mapping The Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
Low Life and The Other Paris by Luc Sante
A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook
Streetfight: Handbook for the Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-Term Change by Mike Lydon & Anthony Garcia
Living In The Endless City, edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic

“The Future of Cities” Select Interviewees:
David Hertz & Sky Source
Vicky Chan & Avoid Obvious Architects
Carlo Ratti: Director, MIT Senseable City Lab Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati
Edward Glaeser: Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University Author of The Triumph of the City
Helle Søholt: Founding Parner & CEO, Gehl Architects
Ricky Burdett: Director, LSE Cities/Urban Age
Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer, City of Boston
Pablo Viejo: Smart Cities Expert & CTO V&V Innovations, Singapore
Matias Echanove & Urbz, Mumbai
Janette Sadik-Khan: Author, Advisor, & Former NYC DOT Commissioner
Abess Makki: CEO, City Insight
Dr. Parag Khanna: Author of Connectography
Stan Gale: CEO of Gale International, Developer of Songdo IBD
Dr. Jockin Arputham: President, Slum Dwellers International
Morton Kabell: Mayor for Technical & Environmental Affairs, Copenhagen
cities  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  bikes  biking  cars  singapore  nyc  losangeles  janejacobs  jangehl  edwardglaeser  mumbai  tokyo  regulation  jaimelerner  curitiba  nantucketproject  carloratti  vickchan  davidhertz  hellesøholt  rickyburdett  laurenlockwood  pabloviejo  matiasechanove  urbz  janettesadik-khan  abessmakki  paragkhanna  stangale  jockinarputham  slumdwellersinternational  slums  mortonkabell  urbanization  future  planning  oscarboyson  mikelydon  anthonygarcia  danielbrook  lucsante  remkoolhaas  dayansudjic  rickyburdettsethsolomonow  wadegraham  charlesmontgomery  matthewclaudeljeffspeck  jonathanrose  transportation  publictransit  transit  housing  construction  development  local  small  grassroots  technology  internet  web  online  communications  infrastructure  services  copenhagen  sidewalks  pedestrians  sharing  filmmaking  film  video  taipei  seoul  santiago  aukland  songdo  sydney  london  nairobi  venice  shenzhen  2016  sustainability  environment  population  detroit  making  manufacturing  buildings  economics  commutes  commuting 
december 2016 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
Six Strange Maps of California | KCET
"Disorientation is usually the opposite of what we hope for from a map, but allow these six to guide you somewhere unexpected. With their deliberate distortions and their fanciful imaginings, they'll challenge your preconceptions about the Golden State. That might leave you feeling a little disoriented, but sometimes losing your bearings is the best way to rediscover as familiar a place as California.

California as an Island…

California as New Albion…

Wet California…

When L.A. County Bordered New Mexico…

A State on Its Side…

California in 15 Million Years… "
california  mapping  maps  history  water  2016  1852  1860  naturalhistory  1650  1775  1851  centralvalley  newalbion  future 
december 2016 by robertogreco
FUTURESTATES | Remigration | Episode | ITVS - YouTube
"Written and directed by Barry Jenkins

Upon returning to their countryside cabin one day, Kaya, his wife Helen, and their daughter Naomi are confronted by two suited men: representatives of the San Francisco Remigration Program. The men explain that San Francisco is now occupied entirely by the wealthy class. But stoplights still burn out and trains occasionally jump their rails. Blue-collar labor isn't obsolete, but it's scarce. The city has created a program to "remigrate" long-gone working class families from their inland homes back to the city that once pushed them out. Kaya, Helen, and Naomi return to San Francisco and join a handful of other potential remigrants for a tour of what can be expected in their new lives. But can they learn to trust their old home once again?"

[reminded of this series by: https://tinyletter.com/jomc/letters/future-series ]

[I have this episode and a bunch more from this series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjtEkYRNN2ongZlotQoMYhkIr8wixZqtT ]
remigration  barryjenkins  futurestates  film  video  future  futurism  sanfrancisco  speculativefiction  migration  immigration 
november 2016 by robertogreco
FUTURESTATES | A Robot Walks Into a Bar | Episode | ITVS - YouTube
"Can a new bartending robot help patrons drown their sorrows, all while keeping them from harming themselves? He soon learns his mission may be next to impossible. A film by Alex Rivera."

[reminded of this series by: https://tinyletter.com/jomc/letters/future-series ]

[I have this episode and a bunch more from this series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjtEkYRNN2ongZlotQoMYhkIr8wixZqtT ]
remigration  alexrivera  futurestates  film  video  future  futurism  sanfrancisco  speculativefiction  robots  labor  alcohol  injury 
november 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — A Crap Futures Manifesto
"Challenge #1: reverse this statement

‘We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture, people must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.’

Paul Mazur, Lehman Brothers, 1927

Challenge #2: reclaim the means - stop obsessing with the ends

‘Modern anthropology … opposes the utilitarian assumption that the primitive chants as he sows seed because he believes that otherwise it will not grow, the assumption that his economic goal is primary, and his other activities are instrumental to it. The planting and the cultivating are no less important than the finished product. Life is not conceived as a linear progression directed to, and justified by, the achievement of a series of goals; it is a cycle in which ends cannot be isolated, one which cannot be dissected into a series of ends and means.’

John Carroll

Challenge #3: (as things become increasingly automated) facilitate action not apathy

‘[W]hen it becomes automatic (on the other hand) its function is fulfilled, certainly, but it is also hermetically sealed. Automatism amounts to a closing-off, to a sort of functional self-sufficiency which exiles man to the irresponsibility of a mere spectator.’

Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects

Challenge #4: bring an end to this vacuous celebrity designer BS

‘My juicer is not meant to squeeze lemons; it is meant to start conversations.’

Philippe Starck

Challenge #5: interrupt legacy thinking and product lineages

‘All inventions and innovations, by definition, represent 
an advance in the art beyond existing base lines. Yet, most advances, particularly in retrospect, appear essentially incremental, evolutionary. If nature makes no sudden leaps, neither it would appear does technology.’

Robert Heilbroner

Challenge #6: rather than feed the illusion of invincibility, work from the reality of uncertainty and transience

‘Everywhere gold glimmered in the half-light, transforming this derelict casino into a magical cavern from the Arabian Nights tales. But it held a deeper meaning for me, the sense that reality itself was a stage set that could be dismantled at any moment, and that no matter how magnificent anything appeared, it could be swept aside into the debris of the past.’

J.G. Ballard, The Miracles of Life

Challenge #7: set aside the easier work of critique and take up the more difficult challenge of proposing viable alternatives

‘It is true that I can better tell you what we don’t do than what we do do.’

William Morris, News from Nowhere

Challenge #8: ask yourself (before putting things in the world): am I qualified to play God?

‘It’s not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you’re doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you’re right and your motives are good isn’t enough.’

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

Challenge #9: design ecologically

‘One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air. And the units nestle into the whole and are inseparable from it … all things are one thing and one thing is all things – plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.’

John Steinbeck, The Sea of Cortez

Challenge #10: adopt a khadi mentality

‘True progress lies in the direction of decentralization, both territorial and functional, in the development of the spirit of local and personal initiative, and of free federation from the simple to the compound, in lieu of the present hierarchy from the centre to the periphery.’

Pyotr Kropotkin

Challenge #11: be patient for the quiet days

‘Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.’

Arundhati Roy

Challenge #12: start building the future you want, with or without technology

‘People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.’

Ray Bradbury, Beyond 1984: The People Machines"
manifestos  crapfutures  paulmazur  desires  needs  anthropology  johncarroll  means  ends  jeanbaudrillard  apathy  action  philippestarck  celebrity  legacy  robertheilbroner  invention  innovation  evolution  invincibility  jgballard  uncertainty  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  critique  williammorris  viability  making  ursulaleguin  ecology  environment  johnsteinbeck  khadi  decentralization  function  functionality  arundhatiroy  patience  quiet  raybradbury  future  futurism  technology  utopia  resistance  peterkropotkin 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Fantasies of the Library | The MIT Press
"Fantasies of the Library lets readers experience the library anew. The book imagines, and enacts, the library as both keeper of books and curator of ideas--as a platform of the future. One essay occupies the right-hand page of a two-page spread while interviews scrolls independently on the left. Bibliophilic artworks intersect both throughout the book-as-exhibition. A photo essay, “Reading Rooms Reading Machines” further interrupts the book in order to display images of libraries (old and new, real and imagined), and readers (human and machine) and features work by artists including Kader Atta, Wafaa Bilal, Mark Dion, Rodney Graham, Katie Paterson, Veronika Spierenburg, and others.

The book includes an essay on the institutional ordering principles of book collections; a conversation with the proprietors of the Prelinger Library in San Francisco; reflections on the role of cultural memory and the archive; and a dialogue with a new media theorist about experiments at the intersection of curatorial practice and open source ebooks. The reader emerges from this book-as-exhibition with the growing conviction that the library is not only a curatorial space but a bibliological imaginary, ripe for the exploration of consequential paginated affairs. The physicality of the book—and this book—“resists the digital,” argues coeditor Etienne Turpin, “but not in a nostalgic way.”

Contributors
Erin Kissane, Hammad Nasar, Megan Shaw Prelinger, Rick Prelinger, Anna-Sophie Springer, Charles Stankievech, Katharina Tauer, Etienne Turpin, Andrew Norman Wilson, Joanna Zylinska"
books  toread  libraries  future  bookfuturism  anna-sophiespringer  etienneturpin  erinkissane  hammadnasar  meganshawprelinger  rickprelinger  charlesstankievech  katharinatauer  andrewnormanwilson  joannazylinska  print  prelingerlibrary  curation  opensource  ebooks  kaderatta  wafaabilal  markdion  rodneygraham  katiepaterson  veronikaspierenburg  2016 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Maria Fröhlich
["Comic artist and illustrator from the dark woods of northern Sweden."
http://mariafrohlich.daportfolio.com/about/ ]

[See also:
https://www.instagram.com/mariafrohlichart/
https://twitter.com/MariaFrohlich ]

[via: http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=88819455cab0b1139f96cec4d&id=6cb5179504

"The image above is part of the concept art for Maria Fröhlich's book Tales from Miraclecity. Her illustration blog features a society brimming with people of color — especially children — playing and exploring in a world both present and future." ]
mariafröhlich  illustration  sweden  peopleofcolor  scifi  sciencefiction  future  comics  graphicnovels  tumblrs 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Future Archivists
"My name is Ian Alan Paul and I've been hired by archivists from the future to perform temporally remote fieldwork in Palestine's West Bank. You can read about how this all began by reading my first field note here, and you can also follow along on facebook and twitter.

Entries are divided into "Field Assignments" from the Future Archivists, "Field Reports" consisting of my research, and "Field Notes" which are personal reflections on the process.

If you have a question you'd like to ask about my fieldwork or about the future archivists, please send an e-mail to ask@thefuturearchivists.com"

[See also: http://www.ianalanpaul.com/the-future-archivists/

"The Future Archivists is an experimental online documentary about the West Bank that adopts the form of a speculative fiction. The project is based on the premise that a consortium of archivists from the future have hired Ian Alan Paul to perform temporally remote fieldwork in Palestine in order to help them fill discovered absences in their future archives."]
alanpaul  palestine  fieldwork  estbank  future  speculativefiction  archivists  archives 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Bat, Bean, Beam: The school as utopia
"What might a radically more just society look like? How would its decisions be made, and by whom? What would its economy look like, whom would it trade with and how? Even radicals may not always have ready, concrete answers to these questions. Contrary to Jameson’s famous quip, it’s not the end of capitalism that is especially hard to imagine – science-fiction writers do it all the time – but rather the connections from the present to any of our available futures.

It is customary to attribute the current dearth of utopian thinking to the historical defeat of the great anti-capitalist ideology, particularly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, coupled with the runaway financialisation of the most advanced capitalist economies. I’m rather more inclined to credit the second part of the equation than the first: for even if socialism – or whatever you want to call it – could still be imagined outside the form of the nation state (as it most certainly can), what is fast disappearing inside it are opportunities for alternative, concrete forms of self-determination and emancipation. There can be no factory councils without factories. There can be no workers’ rights not just without unions, but without a common, unifying notion of what labour is. Reduced to a life-long state of precarity that mimics grotesquely the dynamics of the most profitable trades, or of professions such as the lawyer or the physician – everyone is a contractor, everyone is their own boss – many if not most workers have been successfully alienated from their class, therefore from the ability to organise and articulate a common experience.

Which is what makes the few remaining spaces in which the utopian imagination can be exercised all the more precious.

Over the past two weeks I reprinted as many translations of texts from a historical past in which schools were viewed as the incubators of a new, more equal society, or alternatively as the first in a series of institutions designed to imprison, subdue and mould the citizen-subject to be to the needs of an oppressive one. I can think of my own education as falling a little under column A, and a little under column B. At any rate, there is always a real-world tension between those two pictures. Do our schools teach creativity or conformity? Do they produce obedient workers or autonomous citizens? When they strive for equality, in whose image is their model student created? And what or whom does that image leave out?

This tension notwithstanding, public education in most countries is a playground for practical utopias. Almost universally, the principal, stated goal of compulsory, state-funded education is to remedy the accident of birth, that is to say strive to ensure the same outcomes between children of different backgrounds. I say “stated” for a reason: in practice, this goal can be compromised upon and co-opted in a variety of ways. But that rhetorically even the political right should agree that the task of state education is to make up for economic disadvantage is something to hold on to. And to build on.

You could even say – hell, I’m just about to say it – that a state school is a little proto-socialist society, in which everyone receives according to their need and gives according to their ability. Furthermore, this society insists on pursuing recreation and the liberal arts, often in the face of pressures to narrow its teachings to what will be ‘most useful in life’. This latter demand, which intensifies as students get older, ultimately reveals the other objective of the school system, which is to serve the needs of the economy. In this double articulation we glimpse again the tension exemplified by the writings of De Amicis and Papini. At one end, there is the school that creates a society of equals; at the other, the school that trains children to take orders and habituates them to the hierarchies of the adult world.

Regular followers of this blog will know that one of my preoccupations over the years has been to advocate for inclusive education, meaning an education that expands to accommodate all children, with their full range of learning abilities. This was not always part of the mission of state education, whose history the world over was long marked by the total removal and exclusion of disabled children. Segregation is still very common in Aotearoa, in residential schools but more often through special schools and units. However, significant progress has been made over the last two decades, thanks to the self-advocacy of disabled people and their supporters, and as part of a global movement, to include all children in the ‘regular’ classroom: a progress sadly countervailed by the reluctance of the neoliberal state to properly recognise these rights and provide for full participation.

The situation therefore is one in which, even in the proto-socialist societies I’ve described, children with disabilities are second-class citizens, subject to diminished access to the buildings and the curriculum, and to borderline-obsessive rituals of verification and assessment that their peers are spared. A cruel inversion of the competitive principle of school choice forces these children and their families to move from public school to public school, hoping to find one that will ‘choose’ them.

The struggle against this oppression continues. But – and this is the main point I want to make today – the vision for a truly inclusive school system has a secondary but crucial value, which is to expand our utopian imaginary. An inclusive school is not just a regular school, only with children with disabilities in it. An inclusive school is a school in which the notions of citizenship, democracy and participation are radically expanded. It is a school in which the built environment, the curriculum, the teaching and the social relations challenge the limits of what children can achieve, therefore of what society can be.

It is often said that having children with disabilities can politicise you. For our part, I can say being able to work with and support the inclusive local school that our children attend has been a lesson in utopia-building. It has been our concrete playground, a place where to realise forms of participation and belonging that we didn’t know existed.

The problem, of course, is not just how to protect our little island, or how to replicate its experience elsewhere, but also how to prepare ourselves and our children for what comes after: that is to say, the transition to a society that has stopped aspiring to the most elementary principles of equality, security, participation and inclusion. Yet in this respect, too, the utopian school comes to our aid: for it sharpens the demand, and arms us with the knowledge that an alternative is both necessary and possible. "
giovannitiso  schools  utopia  education  inclusivity  2016  socialism  citizenship  civics  democracy  participation  curriculum  teaching  howweteach  future  society  children  equality  security  inclusion  segregation  self-advocacy  disability  disabilities 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Educator's Folly and the Shadow of the Future
[preceded by:

"The Educator’s Secret and Modern Stupidity"
http://lifelearningmagazine.com/1002/educators_secret.htm

"The Educator’s Dilemma and the Two Big Lies "
http://www.lifelearningmagazine.com/0710/dilemma.htm ]

"There are some practical reasons why educators should abandon their “obsessive speculations about the future.” My conversation with Ben points to one of them.

For too long, in modern, industrial societies, adolescents have been given mixed and confusing messages. In his award-winning history of American childhood, Steven Mintz tried to describe this muddle:

The underlying contradiction in youthful lives is the most disturbing. Young people mature physiologically earlier than ever before. The media prey on children and adolescents with wiles of persuasion and sexual innuendo once reserved for adult consumers. The young have become more knowledgeable sexually and in many other ways. They face adult-like choices earlier. Yet contemporary society isolates and juvenilizes young people more than ever before. Contemporary society provides the young with few positive ways to express their growing maturity and gives them few opportunities to participate in socially valued activities.2 Young people are told over and over again in subtle, and sometimes in not so subtle, ways that they cannot be expected to make real, useful contributions to their communities until some nebulous “future.” No wonder so many of them feel they are “growing up absurd.” 3"



"Obsessed with the future, our political and economic elites and the educators and bureaucrats who serve their interests have been leading us down a road that resembles the one imagined by the professors at Swift’s Academy of PROJECTORS. And if we continue to follow them down that road, the consequences for our communities and for our places on the earth will beat least as dire as Swift anticipated."



"Don’t worry about the future. If you live well today, the future will take care of itself. If you live poorly today, the future will be bleak no matter what gadgets the scientists invent, no matter what systems the experts design. Seek understanding and be compassionate. That’s most important of all."
danielgrego  children  adolescence  2016  education  future  ivanillich  stevenmintz  wendellberry  howardzinn  unschooling  deschooling 
august 2016 by robertogreco
What Is French Cinema Anyway?
"In his review of Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, Jonathan Romney, after pointing out the whiteness and bourgeois-ness of the film, describes it as mostly “a quintessentially Parisian film about French youth.” Being French myself, I tend to cringe at any description of a film as “quintessentially” Parisian. Nine times out of 10, what is actually captured is the essence of a microcosm that can only be subjective and incomplete.

American critics have a tendency to freeze French culture into a single image, but who could blame them? Mia Hansen-Løve’s films, for example, do tend to “sell” a certain idea of Frenchness. Then there’s Amélie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz. At its release in 2001, the film received much praise, but also a notoriously scathing review from Les Inrocks’ Serge Kaganski, who criticized the film’s reactionary ideology and passéiste view of Parisian life. Frédéric Bonnaud, Kaganski’s colleague at the magazine, sarcastically described the film as being “too French to be true.”

Although I agree that Amélie is not the best thing that happened to France or French cinema, I found it dishonest that it was this specific film that prompted such criticism, especially when it comes to the whiteness and latent racism of the film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is considered a mainstream filmmaker, while Mia Hansen-Løve is positioned as an independent auteur. The criticism held against Amélie, the fact that it reduces France to a postcard, enclosed and suffocating, could easily be applied to Hansen-Løve’s films, which also seem to evolve outside of French reality.

This summer, TIFF Cinematheque welcomes a retrospective of one of France’s most legendary New Wave filmmakers, Eric Rohmer. Dangerous Liaisons: The Films of Eric Rohmer includes screenings of classics such as My Night At Maud’s, A Summer’s Tale, Triple Agent and his last film, The Romance of Astrée and Celadon. Even though Rohmer died only in 2010, I feel like I’ve never occupied the same historical space as he did. Watching Rohmer’s movies is a peculiar cine-ethnographic experience. I might share a language and a nationality with the creatures on-screen, but they seem to come from another dimension. If not from France, where does Rohmer come from?"



"Rohmer’s themes — love, friendship, fidelity, and fate — are universal. However, it is his treatment of them, the way he delays the action and even neutralizes it, that distinguishes his films from American films on the same subjects. In both My Night At Maud’s and Chloé In The Afternoon, a man and a woman want to consummate their love. Yet, they spend the length of the film verbally playing cat-and-mouse, questioning the possibility and morality of the act itself. As spectators, we derive pleasure (or irritation) through the deployment of language, the precise dialogue and preciousness with which the actors pronounce the words. It is not a coincidence that one of Rohmer’s actors was the verbose Fabrice Luchini. The first scene of The Tree, The Mayor and The Mediatheque shows him teaching a grammar class to what seems like sixth graders. Asked whether he’d shoot a film in the U.S. (like his fellow Cahiers’ critic François Truffaut), Rohmer said that his love for French language was too much of an integral part of his aesthetic to consider it. His dialogues are not only pedagogical, but part of the acoustic of his films, of their musicality.

My current favourite Rohmer film is probably the late ‘80s girl buddy film Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, the closest to a teen movie Rohmer has ever filmed. (The girls are actually in college.) Following the titular Reinette and Mirabelle in their respective environments, the director showcases his talent in filming and revealing landscapes both urban and rural. Even though he was born in the province, Paris seemed to have been Rohmer’s main love, the place where most of his stories take place, as demonstrated in this video essay by Richard Misek.

What is an event in a Rohmer film? A man buying a green shirt in Chloe In The Afternoon. Reinette and Mirabelle, waiting for a blue night in the countryside. Drinking, reading a book. And always two individuals encountering each other, not knowing what their fate will be. Plots and storylines exist in the Rohmerian world, but they are digression-friendly."



"The influence of American cinema on Eric Rohmer was subtle, if not invisible. Of all the New Wave filmmakers, he’s the one that cannot be accused of being complacent with the American cinema’s aesthetic. His films were very French, even perpetuating and creating a fixed idea of Frenchness and French cinema. But what’s so French about the New Wave and more specifically, Eric Rohmer? What makes a French film, French?

Perhaps, the gratuitous nudity, the long conversations in cafes, beaches and bedrooms, Paris, older men desiring younger girls, the theatricality and artificiality of the conversations. The cinema of Éric Rohmer, at first glance, contains all the clichés associated with French cinema."



"Today’s French filmmakers inevitably make films with American images and stylistic tactics in mind. To borrow words from Dusan Makavjev, who was quoted in Thomas Elsaesser’s European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood, “to live in the twenty first century is learning to be American.” In the ‘90s when Éric Rohmer was delivering his “Tales of Four Seasons,” in which young ephebes were singing regional French folks songs, American cultural hegemony had established itself for good in France. No amount of European and ruthless French anti-Americanism and cultural protectionism had prevented American pop culture from flooding our theatres and television screens. The fear expressed in this quote recalls the fear of “Americanization” or “coca-colonisation” during the interwar period, which led to the creation of policies that would limit the number of American films on French screens. Authorities were anxious that the passive consumption of Hollywood products would lead to a kind of inner displacement, encouraging a concrete one, a betrayal of the nation, and the adoption of a lifestyle and the star-spangled flag."



"But not all contemporary French filmmakers are taking a flight from French reality. Abdellatif Kechiche, the director of the controversial Palme D’or-winning film Blue is the Warmest Color, is probably the most Rohmerian working filmmaker in France right now. Like Rohmer, Kechiche functions as a chronicler of contemporary French life with an attention for language and French youth in all its diversity. Young girls also have a central, constitutive place in Kechiche’s cinema. Blue is the Warmest Color contained all his obsessions. Running three hours long, it was a culmination of his filmmaking style with its succession of long scenes. We also find the eloquence and expressivity of Rohmerian characters, though with less sculpted direction in their performances. Kechichian encounters are more violent and crude, as the sex, fighting and eating shows us. But the highbrow, intellectual conversations on Klimt, Bob Marley and Sartre are there.

I definitely believe that the future of a specifically French cinema is in the hands of immigrants. We have the desire to not only reclaim specific spaces as ours, but to also depict the way we have been alienated from them. French cinema has merely started giving a place to characters who look and talk like us. Once the movies begin to fully register our existence, it will not need to look at America anymore, as our lives are as epic and special as the ones overseas. The real legacy of the French New Wave and Rohmer’s films is to have given us the tools to carve out a space in which we’ll be able to imagine our own cinematic manifestations. Meanwhile, we have the opportunity like they did with American cinema, to study their films so that we can create our own singular forms."
fantasylla  film  france  éricrohmer  miahansen-løve  cinema  future  culture  immigration  alienation  jean-pierrejeunet  sergekaganski  frédéricbonnaud  howardhawks  alfredhitchcock  dwgriffith  macksennett  frenchnewwave  dusanmakavjev  thomaselsaesser  abdellatifkechiche  fabricegobert  célinesciamma 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Los Angeles Future Rail & BRT | Transit Maps by CalUrbanist
"Transporting the masses has always been a zero-sum game in Los Angeles. L.A. was built by streetcars; then modern L.A. was built around the car. Only recently have Angelenos begun to realize that any metropolis of 16 million*, no matter how lowrise, cannot live on roads alone. The long-term project to rebuild the Red Car network got underway in the ’80s, but 2008 was a turning point. That’s when voters approved Measure R, a 30-year tax to, among other things, build multiple Metro Rail lines. This fall, voters will get an opportunity to double down on Measure R by raising the tax, making it permanent, and building more lines. The map below is based on that proposition, Measure M. It also includes a couple of unrelated projects that are largely funded and likely to happen. Stylistically, the diagram draws on clean and simple Central European examples. (* Depending on how you measure it, there are somewhere between 13 and 19 million people in Greater Los Angeles.)"
losangeles  transportation  future  transit  publictransit  trains  measurer  measurem  maps  mapping  lightrail  metro 
august 2016 by robertogreco
11 video game trends that will change the future of the industry | Technology | The Guardian
"1. VR with friends rather than alone

2. Physically collaborative games

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

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

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

3. The future of augmented reality

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

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

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

4. Incremental console updates …

5. The next step for mobile: TV …

6. Sayonara, Steam: the rise of specialised stores

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

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

7. The rise of indie studios …

8. Rejecting crunch

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

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

9. Design that puts feelings first

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

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

10. Trying – and failing …

11. Feeling twitchy about YouTube and Twitch"
games  gaming  videogames  future  2016  vr  virtualreality  ar  augmentedreality  youtube  twitch  funomena  kickstarter  crowdfunding  indiegames  design  gamedesign  spaceteam  social  collaboration  braid  worldofgoo  steam  itch.io  mobile  phones  smartphones  pokemongo  keitatakahashi  robinhunicke  thatgamecompany  ghislaineboddington  body>data>space  bodies  play  physical  oculusrift  ramiismail  jordanericaebber  katbrewster  pokémongo 
july 2016 by robertogreco
61 Glimpses of the Future — Today’s Office — Medium
"1. If you want to understand how our planet will turn out this century, spend time in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil.

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

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

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

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

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

10. Borders are permeable.

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

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

14. Pretentious people are inherently less curious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

38. Tibetan monks prefer iOS over Android.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

60. The difference between 2.5G and 3G? In the words of a smartphone wielding GBAO teenager on the day 3G data was switched on her town, “I can breathe”."
janchipchase  2016  travel  technology  borders  authenticity  pretension  curiosity  china  tibet  japan  eligion  culture  capitalism  wechat  facebook  android  ios  tokyo  chengdu  future  past  communication  tea  greentea  certainty  monks  translation  nature  indonesia  nigeria  brasil  brazil  india  shoes  connectivity  internet  mobile  phones  smartphones  sharingeconomy  economics  negotiation  touchid  cities  urban  urbanism  location  risk  relationships  consumers  terrorism  truckers  oppo  siliconvalley  wealth  nouveauriche  comparison  generations 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Jef Sewell on Twitter: ""…the next great division of world will be between people who wish to live as creatures & people who wish to live as machines” #WendellBerry"
"…the next great division of world will be between people who wish to live as creatures & people who wish to live as machines” —WendellBerry
wendellberry  humans  humanism  machines  creatures  life  living  cyborgs  future  evolution 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Thoughts on the sociology of Brexit - Political Economy Research Centre
"1. THE GEOGRAPHY REFLECTS THE ECONOMIC CRISIS OF THE 1970S, NOT THE 2010S



But consider the longer history of these regions as well. They are well-recognised as Labour’s historic heartlands, sitting on coalfields and/or around ship-building cities. Indeed, outside of London and Scotland, they were amongst the only blobs of Labour red on the 2015 electoral map. There is no reason to think that they would not stay red if an election were held in the autumn. But in the language of Marxist geographers, they have had no successful ‘spatial fix’ since the stagflation crisis of the 1970s. Thatcherism gutted them with pit-closures and monetarism, but generated no private sector jobs to fill the space. The entrepreneurial investment that neoliberals always believe is just around the corner never materialised.

Labour’s solution was to spread wealth in their direction using fiscal policy: public sector back-office jobs were strategically relocated to South Wales and the North East to alleviate deindustrialisation, while tax credits made low productivity service work more socially viable. This effectively created a shadow welfare state that was never publicly spoken of, and co-existed with a political culture which heaped scorn on dependency. Peter Mandelson’s infamous comment, that the Labour heartlands could be depended on to vote Labour no matter what, “because they’ve got nowhere else to go” spoke of a dominant attitude. In Nancy Fraser’s terms, New Labour offered ‘redistribution’ but no ‘recognition’.

This cultural contradiction wasn’t sustainable and nor was the geographic one. Not only was the ‘spatial fix’ a relatively short-term one, seeing as it depended on rising tax receipts from the South East and a centre left government willing to spread money quite lavishly (albeit, discretely), it also failed to deliver what many Brexit-voters perhaps crave the most: the dignity of being self-sufficient, not necessarily in a neoliberal sense, but certainly in a communal, familial and fraternal sense.

2. HANDOUTS DON’T PRODUCE GRATITUDE



While it may be one thing for an investment banker to understand that they ‘benefit from the EU’ in regulatory terms, it is quite another to encourage poor and culturally marginalised people to feel grateful towards the elites that sustain them through handouts, month by month. Resentment develops not in spite of this generosity, but arguably because of it. This isn’t to discredit what the EU does in terms of redistribution, but pointing to handouts is a psychologically and politically naïve basis on which to justify remaining in the EU.

In this context, the slogan ‘take back control’ was a piece of political genius. It worked on every level between the macroeconomic and the psychoanalytic. Think of what it means on an individual level to rediscover control. To be a person without control (for instance to suffer incontinence or a facial tick) is to be the butt of cruel jokes, to be potentially embarrassed in public. It potentially reduces one’s independence. What was so clever about the language of the Leave campaign was that it spoke directly to this feeling of inadequacy and embarrassment, then promised to eradicate it. The promise had nothing to do with economics or policy, but everything to do with the psychological allure of autonomy and self-respect. Farrage’s political strategy was to take seriously communities who’d otherwise been taken for granted for much of the past 50 years.

This doesn’t necessarily have to translate into nationalistic pride or racism (although might well do), but does at the very least mean no longer being laughed at. Those that have ever laughed at ‘chavs’ (such as the millionaire stars of Little Britain) have something to answer for right now, as Rhian E. Jones’ Clampdown argued. The willingness of Nigel Farrage to weather the scornful laughter of metropolitan liberals (for instance through his periodic appearances on Have I Got News For You) could equally have made him look brave in the eyes of many potential Leave voters. I can’t help feeling that every smug, liberal, snobbish barb that Ian Hislop threw his way on that increasingly hateful programme was ensuring that revenge would be all the greater, once it arrived. The giggling, from which Boris Johnson also benefited handsomely, needs to stop.

3. BREXIT WAS NOT FUELLED BY A VISION OF THE FUTURE



Thatcher and Reagan rode to power by promising a brighter future, which never quite materialised other than for a minority with access to elite education and capital assets. The contemporary populist promise to make Britain or American ‘great again’ is not made in the same way. It is not a pledge or a policy platform; it’s not to be measured in terms of results. When made by the likes of Boris Johnson, it’s not even clear if it’s meant seriously or not. It’s more an offer of a collective real-time halucination, that can be indulged in like a video game.
The Remain campaign continued to rely on forecasts, warnings and predictions, in the hope that eventually people would be dissuaded from ‘risking it’. But to those that have given up on the future already, this is all just more political rhetoric. In any case, the entire practice of modelling the future in terms of ‘risk’ has lost credibility, as evidenced by the now terminal decline of opinion polling as a tool for political control.

4. WE NOW LIVE IN THE AGE OF DATA, NOT FACTS

One of the complaints made most frequently by liberal commentators, economists and media pundits was that the referendum campaign was being conducted without regard to ‘truth’. This isn’t quite right. It was conducted without adequate regard to facts. To the great frustration of the Remain campaign, their ‘facts’ never cut through, whereas Leave’s ‘facts’ (most famously the £350m/week price tag of EU membership) were widely accepted.

What is a ‘fact’ exactly? In her book A History of the Modern Fact, Mary Poovey argues that a new way of organising and perceiving the world came into existence at the end of the 15th century with the invention of double-entry book-keeping. This new style of knowledge is that of facts, representations that seem both context-independent, but also magically slot seamlessly into multiple contexts as and when they are needed. The basis for this magic is that measures and methodologies (such as accounting techniques) become standardised, but then treated as apolitical, thereby allowing numbers to move around freely in public discourse without difficulty or challenge. In order for this to work, the infrastructure that produces ‘facts’ needs careful policing, ideally through centralisation in the hands of statistics agencies or elite universities (the rise of commercial polling in the 1930s was already a challenge to the authority of ‘facts’ in this respect).

This game has probably been up for some time. As soon as media outlets start making a big deal about the FACTS of a situation, for instance with ‘Fact check’ bulletins, it is clear that numbers have already become politicised. ‘Facts’ (such as statistics) survived as an authoritative basis for public and democratic deliberation for most of the 200 years following the French Revolution. But the politicisation of social sciences, metrics and policy administration mean that the ‘facts’ produced by official statistical agencies must now compete with other conflicting ‘facts’. The deconstruction of ‘facts’ has been partly pushed by varieties of postmodern theory since the 1960s, but it is also an inevitable effect of the attempt (beloved by New Labour) to turn policy into a purely scientific exercise.

The attempt to reduce politics to a utilitarian science (most often, to neo-classical economics) eventually backfires, once the science in question then starts to become politicised. ‘Evidence-based policy’ is now far too long in the tooth to be treated entirely credulously, and people tacitly understand that it often involves a lot of ‘policy-based evidence’. When the Remain camp appealed to their ‘facts’, forecasts, and models, they hoped that these would be judged as outside of the fray of politics. More absurdly, they seemed to imagine that the opinions of bodies such as the IMF might be viewed as ‘independent’. Unfortunately, economics has been such a crucial prop for political authority over the past 35 years that it is now anything but outside of the fray of politics.

In place of facts, we now live in a world of data. Instead of trusted measures and methodologies being used to produce numbers, a dizzying array of numbers is produced by default, to be mined, visualised, analysed and interpreted however we wish. If risk modelling (using notions of statistical normality) was the defining research technique of the 19th and 20th centuries, sentiment analysis is the defining one of the emerging digital era. We no longer have stable, ‘factual’ representations of the world, but unprecedented new capacities to sense and monitor what is bubbling up where, who’s feeling what, what’s the general vibe.

Financial markets are themselves far more like tools of sentiment analysis (representing the mood of investors) than producers of ‘facts’. This is why it was so absurd to look to currency markets and spread-betters for the truth of what would happen in the referendum: they could only give a sense of what certain people at felt would happen in the referendum at certain times. Given the absence of any trustworthy facts (in the form of polls), they could then only provide a sense of how investors felt about Britain’s national mood: a sentiment regarding a sentiment. As the 23rd June turned into 24th June, it became manifestly clear that prediction markets are little more than an aggregative representation of the same feelings and moods that one might otherwise detect via twitter. They’re not in the business of truth-telling, but of mood-… [more]
uk  politics  brexit  future  willdavies  2016  policy  eu  data  facts  markets  neolibersalism  history  economics  class  classism  nationalism  racism  self-sufficiency  dignity  nancyfraser  jamesmeeksubsidies  rhianjonesopen  democracy  adamramsey  anthonybarnett  donaldtrump  marypoovey  stability  growth  destruction 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne | KCET
"Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne partners with Artbound for an episode that looks into the future of Los Angeles. "Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne" examines the city's architecture, urban planning, transportation and changing demographics, giving us a glimpse of Los Angeles as a model of urban reinvention for the nation and the world."

[See also:

"Is Los Angeles a Horizontal City?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/tall-buildings-los-angeles-vertical-construction

"Is Los Angeles a City of Houses?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/los-angeles-architecture-history-multi-family-housing

"Is Los Angeles a City of Immigrants?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/demographics-of-los-angeles-immigrantion

"Is Los Angeles a Private City?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/privacy-segregation-in-los-angeles

"What is the Third Los Angeles?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/christopher-hawthorne-critic-third-la-los-angeles ]
christopherhawthorne  carolinamiranda  losangeles  urbanplanning  2016  architecture  urban  urbanism  transportation  demographics  barbarabestor  michaelmaltzan  michaelwoo  history  future  density  cities  development  gentrification 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Facebook is wrong, text is deathless
"It's a throwaway line in a longer talk and we probably shouldn't make too much of it, but I will anyway.
In five years time Facebook "will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video," said Nicola Mendelsohn, who heads up Facebook's operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London this morning. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech.

"The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video," Mendelsohn said. "It conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information."

Maybe this is coming from deep within the literacy bubble, but:

Text is surprisingly resilient. It's cheap, it's flexible, it's discreet. Human brains process it absurdly well considering there's nothing really built-in for it. Plenty of people can deal with text better than they can spoken language, whether as a matter of preference or necessity. And it's endlessly computable -- you can search it, code it. You can use text to make it do other things.

In short, all of the same technological advances that enable more and more video, audio, and immersive VR entertainment also enable more and more text. We will see more of all of them as the technological bottlenecks open up.

And text itself will get weirder, its properties less distinct, as it reflects new assumptions and possibilities borrowed from other tech and media. It already has! Text can be real-time, text can be ephemeral -- text has taken on almost all of the attributes we always used to distinguish speech, but it's still remained text. It's still visual characters registered by the eye standing in for (and shaping its own) language.

Because nothing has proved as invincible as writing and literacy. Because text is just so malleable. Because it fits into any container we put it in. Because our world is supersaturated in it, indoors and out. Because we have so much invested in it. Because nothing we have ever made has ever rewarded our universal investment in it more. Unless our civilization fundamentally collapses, we will never give up writing and reading.

We're still not even talking to our computers as often as we're typing on our phones. What logs the most attention-hours -- i.e., how media companies make their money -- is not and has never been the universe of communications.

(And my god -- the very best feature Facebook Video has, what's helping that platform eat the world -- is muted autoplay video with automatic text captions. Forget literature -- even the stupid viral videos people watch waiting for the train are better when they're made with text!)

Nothing is inevitable in history, media, or culture -- but literacy is the only thing that's even close. Bet for better video, bet for better speech, bet for better things we can't imagine -- but if you bet against text, you will lose."
facebook  internet  text  literacy  timcarmody  2016  video  media  culture  history  future  communication 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Human Fear of Total Knowledge - The Atlantic
"Why infinite libraries are treated skeptically in the annals of science fiction and fantasy"



"Humanity’s great affection for the printed word notwithstanding, it’s clear now that books have been surpassed, at least insofar as what’s possible in terms of accessing and connecting information. One wonders what Borges, who died in 1986, might have thought of the internet, which has revolutionized our expectations about how human knowledge is stored and retrieved.

Wikipedia, a vast encyclopedia that is updated continuously by tens of thousands of volunteers, is often described as impressive and ambitious, which of course it is. But it’s also important to remember that mere decades ago it was technologically impossible. A century ago, the most ambitious compendia of human knowledge in the Western world was arguably the encyclopedia. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, as Denis Boyle writes in his new book about its history, was at the time “an inventory of the universe” practically a library all its own. Today, anyone with an internet connection has access to a staggering amount of human knowledge, more information than the thickest encyclopedias could ever have contained. Smartphones, from which people can summon answers by speaking aloud, are modern-day oracles.

No longer are encyclopedias and libraries the most ambitious ideas humans have for the collection and stewardship of knowledge. The expectation, increasingly, is that information ought not be collected in one place, but kept everywhere, so that it is accessible at all times. If the concept of an infinite book gave way to ideas for knowledge machines that now exist, today’s imagined future—with all-knowledgeable machines evolving into sentient computer minds—is more ambitious still. Ashby, the science fiction writer, gives the example of a concept explored in the film Minority Report. “Minority Report got a lot of attention for its gestural computing interface, which is lovely and delightful, but hidden in there is the idea of literally being able to page through someone's uploaded memories,” she told me.

And though brain uploading as a kind of immortality remains a beloved subject among transhumanists, today’s digital scholars are mostly fixated on figuring out how to store the seemingly endless troves of knowledge already swirling about online. These aspirations are complicated by the relative newness of web technology, and by the fact that the internet is disintegrating all the time, even as it grows. Groups like the Internet Archive are working furiously to capture data before it disappears, without any long-term infrastructure to speak of. Meanwhile, institutions like the Library of Congress are trying to figure out how the information that’s preserved ultimately ought to be organized. The hope is to reinvent the card catalogue, a system that’s already gone from analog to digital, and is now being reimagined for the semantic web.

The great paradox for those who seek to reconfigure the world’s knowledge systems, is that the real threat of information loss is occurring at a time when there seems to be no way to stop huge troves of personal data from being collected—by governments and by corporations. Like its fictional counterparts, today’s information utopia has its own sinister side.

(It’s understandable why, the journalist James Bamford has described the National Security Agency, as “an avatar of Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘Library of Babel,’ a place where the collection of information is both infinite and monstrous, where all the world’s knowledge is stored, but every word is maddeningly scrambled in an unbreakable code.”)

But there is a check on all of this anxiety about information collection and Borgesian libraries. The threat that human knowledge will be lost—either through destruction, or by dilution due to sheer scale—is still the dominant cultural narrative about libraries, real and imagined. The Library of Alexandria, often described as a physical embodiment of the heart and mind of the ancient world, is so famous today in part because it was destroyed.

In The Book of Sand, Borges describes an infinite book that nearly drives the narrator mad before he resolves to get rid of it. “I thought of fire, but I feared that the burning of an infinite book might likewise prove infinite and suffocate the planet with smoke,” he writes. Instead, he opts to “hide a leaf in the forest” and sets off for the Argentine National Library with the bizarre volume.

“I went there and, slipping past a member of the staff and trying not to notice at what height or distance from the door, I lost the Book of Sand on one of the basement’s musty shelves.”"
libraries  borges  scifi  sciencefiction  2016  adriennelafrance  knowledge  fantasy  wikipedia  history  future  encycolpedias  nsa  jamesbamford 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Douglas Coupland: Escaping the superfuture - FT.com
"I find myself reading books of short stories these days. Short stories don’t take as long to read as novels, and if you read a few in a row it feels just like binge-watching Netflix. I’ve also found that when it comes to reading, and if you really want to annoy someone, just tell them you’re taking a week off to do nothing but read. Their eyes will goggle and their reptile cortex will flare with envy. A whole week?

To read? Make it worse by saying you’re also going offline for your Reading Week. You may as well tell them you’re spending the week snorkelling on the Amalfi coast with Brangelina. Taking time off solely to read has become something akin to temporal eco-tourism, a visit to a mindspace that seems ever more distant by the day.

Lately I’ve been experiencing a new temporal sensation that’s odd to articulate, but I do think is shared by most people. It’s this: until recently, the future was always something out there up ahead of us, something to anticipate or dread, but it was always away from the present.

But not any more. Somewhere in the past few years the present melted into the future. We’re now living inside the future 24/7 and this (weirdly electric and buzzy) sensation shows no sign of stopping — if anything, it grows ever more intense. Elsewhere I’ve labelled this experience “the extreme present” — or another label for this new realm might be “the superfuture”. In this superfuture I feel like I’m clamped into a temporal roller coaster and, at the crest of the first hill, I can see that my roller coaster actually runs off far into the horizon. Wait! How is this thing supposed to end?

Is it ever going to end? Help! I want a pill called 1995! I want a one-year holiday from change! But that’s not going to happen.

. . . 

The future is always supposed to be a mess, isn’t it? I think it’s funny the way people have an almost impossible time envisioning a future that isn’t a dystopian waste-scape. Growing up in the 1970s, the year 2016 was to have been a wasteland populated by a rifle-toting Charlton Heston, zombies and the Statue of Liberty poking out of a beach. Both oil and fresh water would be non-existent. No politics; just anarchy. But by many measurable statistical standards, right now is the best time ever in our history . . . and yet mostly we bitch, complain and worry — it’s what we do as humans. I think the biggest surprise for a 1970s Rip Van Winkle awaking in 2016 might probably be oil: cheap and plentiful oil. Wait — how did that happen? And look at the variety and quality of produce in even the most dismal grocery store . . . and cars look smashing and don’t belch blue smoke and gays seem to be part of society at large. And . . . wait, this is 2016? Count me in!
 . . . 

It’s hard to accept that our new superfuture mind state is permanent and that it’s not going away — how could it? Our devices that cause it aren’t going to go away. They’ll just get better and faster and we’re going to embed ourselves in the superfuture ever more deeply.

It makes me wonder if the most important thing we could invent right now would be a technology that takes away our bottomless fear of missing out, our need to read the latest news update, our latest hook-up or our latest upgrade.

What kind of technology would that be? How would it free us from our current superfuture prison? How could it convince us that everything is OK? How do we invent our way out of this mess?

 . . .

Human beings weren’t built for progress — maybe a bit of change here and there, a bit of adaptability, but not for what we’re now collectively enduring. No animal is built that way. Until recently we lived in a cave or a hut and you assumed our great-great-grandchildren would be living in the same cave or a hut identical to our own; their lives would be in no way different from ours. When did that end — 1850? Dear Industrial Revolution: thanks for nothing.

 . . .

Last month I was visiting an editor friend in Toronto and I asked her, “So Anne, what’s killing publishing this week?” and she said, “Oh that’s easy. TV binge-viewing.” She wasn’t being facetious; people now measurably use the time they once spent reading novels to binge-watch Netflix or HBO. And then the next day at work they discuss what they’re watching the same way people used to discuss novels. What season are you on? Which episode? No spoilers! They might as well have been by the water cooler discussing The Catcher in the Rye in 1951.

A few paragraphs back I asked what sort of technology it would be that would help rescue us from this nonstop trapped-inside-the-future nagging buzz we all share living in the 21st century. This was a trick question because we already have this technology: it’s called books. But there’s another twist here and it’s this: it’s harder to read books these days. We all know it. It is a very rare and very honest person who’ll cop to the truth that they don’t read half as much fiction as they did 10 years ago. People seem to be buying novels but they just join the pile beside the bed that topples over when you go to plug in the laptop’s power cord.

. . . 

For a recent museum show I made T-shirts that read “i miss my pre-internet brain”. We photographed them on 17-year-old models and everybody had a good laugh. Me, I don’t miss my pre-internet brain. I no longer remember it, and that may be a necessary step to survive in the upcoming 100 years. Nostalgia for your pre-2005-ish brain may be actively holding you back from living a better life right now. Who’s to say? The world only spins forward. If you do want a portal back to The Way Things Were, you can read a book, but the moment you finish it you’ll be right back here. And that’s better than nothing."

[via: https://twitter.com/anabjain/status/707972055233392640 ]
superfuture  douglascoupland  present  future  2016  technology  internet  web  online  progress  change  thenewnormal 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Radical imagination is a necessary, sustaining force of black activism
"The life of an activist can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. When you're dedicated to fighting inequality and injustice, you're signing up for a battle with the very forces that produce them — and it's a battle not easily won.

When I chose to become an activist for the lives of black people, I didn't realize just how much it would require of me. By December 2015, when a grand jury declined to charge the Cleveland police officer responsible for killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the harsh reality of this work hit me especially hard — the weariness, hopelessness, powerlessness. After protesting, organizing and lobbying, black children will still have their lives stolen, and no one will be held accountable.

It's not just me — these feelings are widespread among those who give so much to the movement and get so little real change in return.

That became especially clear after Feb. 8, when Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel took his own life on the front steps of the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. While we can't assume a single cause for someone's suicide, McCarrel's death sparked a conversation within the activist community about the depression and anxiety that come with this work.

Where can we find hope? How can we maintain the resilience needed to keep the movement for racial justice going? 

I believe we need to be more steadfast in looking toward the future — envisioning the world we want to see, and taking concrete steps to create it. We need to rekindle the spirit of radical imagination that fueled so many black activists before us.

We can trace radical imagination back to historical movements, like the Civil Rights Movement, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the best examples. His celebrated "I Have A Dream" speech is the epitome of finding a dream in the midst of weariness, as both an activist and black person living through injustice:
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream ... This is our hope.

The revolutionary and even idealist nature of King’s speech cannot — and should not — be understated. Although we celebrate his words without hesitation today, many of King's peers "deemed it hackneyed to the point of cliché" at the time. Even the most “radical student activists were dismayed to hear a black leader dreaming of a far-off future."

King's dream was too big and too distant for a lot of people to understand and accept. But he didn't allow their lack of imagination, nor the dark conditions of the present, to prevent him from envisioning a brighter future.

Robin D.G. Kelley, a professor of American history at UCLA and author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, emphasizes the power in our collective dreams.

"Oftentimes dreaming gets reduced to the individual process of envisioning something different," Kelley tells Mashable. "Dreams can have transformative impact, though, if we put in the work." "



""The more well-read and imaginative we become, we start to use grandiose terms that aren't accessible to some people. Liberation is for everyone, so we have to make sure that things are translated in a way that will have immediate and long term effects. The dream has to be accessible," she says.

"Hope can be fuel if we let it be," she adds. "It matters a great deal to our ability to be resilient in the face of opposition."

Resilience is a vital part of activism — but a long, difficult road doesn't mean we should be weary of taking it on, or be willing to settle for less.

To create a revolution that turns systemic racism and institutionalized oppression on their heads, we must first dream, and then put in the work. Packnett, for example, doesn't see Campaign Zero as a final goal, but a step "on the road to that radical and revolutionary ending."

If we would all be bold enough to take a step on that road, think of how far we could go. We have the capacity to dream — and we have the power to turn those dreams into plans and policies that can completely change the world."
activism  imagination  socialjustice  hope  robindgkelley  savonneanderson  2016  inequality  injustice  revolution  utopia  racism  oppression  burnout  radicalism  future  change 
march 2016 by robertogreco
12 | March | 2016 | visual/method/culture: remembering Doreen
"I’m writing this short post after reading an email from OU colleague Steve Pile confirming that Doreen Massey did indeed pass away on the afternoon of Friday 11 March 2016. I saw earlier tweets to the same effect and tweeted myself, and now it’s for sure.

Doreen has accompanied all of my academic life. I read her book Spatial Divisions of Labour as an undergraduate (still an outstandingly important text, in my view). She examined my PhD thesis (and told me I needed to write a methods section at the end of it….). I met her on and off as I worked on feminist and cultural geographies in London and Edinburgh after my PhD. I joined The Open University in 1999 and in the following years I worked with her on an OU geography module on globalisation and on a small research project on public art in Milton Keynes. And even after she retired, for some time anyway, she often was in her OU office just down the corridor from mine, working on talks and projects and politics, always ready to discuss and engage.

She wasn’t always an easy person to work with. She could be very critical; she could insist on things being done her way; she didn’t like any kind of admin. She could also, far more often, be incredibly warm – to everyone and anyone, absolutely – and she was one of the most charismatic speakers I have ever heard. I remember her tiny frame absolutely filling one enormous lecture hall with energy and passion, extemporising from handwritten notes, intensifying the entire space. I can hear her voice now, and her laughter.

Some of her ideas – spatial divisions of labour, relationality, a global sense of place, throwntogetherness – have transformed huge swathes of human geography and beyond. So many of us simply would not be doing what we do and how we do it without her work, even if many of us are doing different things from her. Her work transformed human geography’s ideas, but she also transformed many scholars as people, supporting them, pushing them, inspiring them. And that’s not even to start on her political work, from the Greater London Council to the Kilburn Manifesto.

I think it’s that massive humanity – including its flaws – that made me realise, this morning, after reading those tweets, that it had literally never crossed my mind, even though I knew she was ill, that she might die. Her energy, commitment, the sheer intensity and consistency of her engagement, somehow made such an outcome an impossibility. But it’s happened and I feel a massive absence now, a silence.

My tweet said RIP. But actually, now, I don’t want to think of her resting in peace. I much prefer to think of her arguing on, being thoughtful and awkward and sometimes difficult, never ever taking things for granted, always thinking towards openness and a different kind of future."
doreenmassey  2016  obituaries  via:anne  argement  openness  future  relationality  geography  gillianrose  humanism  humanity  flaws  intensity  criticalthinking  criticism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — counter-constraints
"In recent posts, starting with ‘how the future happens’, we have been exploring the factors that keep us to established paths or limit the potential for preferable futures. But as we aim in this blog (and in life generally) to go beyond mere critique, the next batch of posts will outline the concept of counter-constraints.

Counter-constraints take the identified constraining factors and invert, work around, or ignore them entirely to propose fresh perspectives and possibilities. The resulting new ways of thinking about technological futures may be more inclusive, imaginative, socially-orientated, non-corporate, or they might simply facilitate a more meaningful relationship between science and society.

For example, open-source everything can be seen as a series of counter-constraints to restrictive infrastructure such as copyright laws, gated knowledge systems, and complex production lines. Back in the 1970s, Italian designer Enzo Mari sought to democratize furniture construction with autoprogettazione?, a DIY approach to ‘making easy-to-assemble furniture using rough boards and nails’. Mari wrote:

In my job as designer, or rather as an intellectual who contradicts the actual state of things, I try within the network of commissions and projects to ‘smuggle in’ moments of research and ways of creating the stimulus to free oneself from ideological conditioning, standard norms, behaviour and taste.
The book is full of beautiful stuff - we’ve already made two ping-pong tables and a couple of chairs from his instructions. Taking Mari’s lead, it is possible for anyone - without sophisticated tools or machinery - to sidestep the usual trip to Ikea.

Well, almost anyone - you still need basic building skills. The Enzo Mari example also relates to another constraint we’ve discussed, that of education. We’ve used his book to teach students the kinds of skills that are becoming rarer these days thanks to over-digitalisation, the consequential focus on 3D printing and laser-cutting, and the rapid shift toward sealed-box design.

Time for coffee and toast. In our next post we’ll look at how to ‘counter-constrain’ progress dogma.

note: apologies to the Mari purists. We used screws rather than nails for dismantleability."
constraints  counter-constraints  enzomari  2016  diy  furniture  autoprogettazione  inversion  futures  future  design  crapfutures  democratization  1970s  science  society  technology  knowledgesystems  perspective  possibilty 
february 2016 by robertogreco
All our imagined futures | A Working Library
"No, an end to growth will not look like Blade Runner, Mad Max, or The Hunger Games. These movies imagine what happens when we do not end growth soon enough.

So what would an end to growth look like? Writing in Dissent last spring, Daniel Immerwahr doesn’t paint the rosiest picture, but he also makes clear the alternative:
Such cuts can be made more or less fairly, and the richest really ought to pay the most, but the crucial thing is that they are made. Because, above all, stopping climate change means giving up on growth.

That will be hard. Not only will our standards of living almost certainly drop, but it’s likely that the very quality of our society—equality, safety, and trust—will decline, too. That’s not something to be giddy about, but it’s still a price that those of us living in affluent countries should prepare to pay. Because however difficult it is to slow down, flooding Bangladesh cannot be an option. In other words, we can and should act. It’s just going to hurt.

There’s the rub: those of us living in affluent countries must pay. Porter presumes that technology can get us out of climate change without that payment—that nuclear energy, renewables, carbon capture, and electric cars will let us continue to consume at current levels as if nothing had changed. (As an aside: you can follow the American love of cars all the way to Immortan Joe’s citadel.) But I don’t think it’s likely we’re going to get off that easy. Carbon capture is still a pipe dream, nuclear energy will take too long to ramp up even absent strong local objections, electric cars are hardly a panacea, and renewables such as solar and wind, while certainly promising, won’t help much if we continue to pull coal and oil out of the ground at the rates we are now.

As it happens, though, I think Porter’s instinct to reach for science fiction to understand the future is a useful one. In Submergence, J.M. Ledgard’s novel of planetary depths, Danny remarks: “If this was happening in a science-fiction world we would see it clearly for what it is, but we don’t because it’s happening here and now.” Fiction, and science fiction in particular, can help us imagine many futures, and in particular can help us to direct our imaginations towards the futures we want. Imagining a particular kind of future isn’t just day dreaming: it’s an important and active framing that makes it possible for us to construct a future that approaches that imagined vision. In other words, imagining the future is one way of making that future happen. Writing in Essence in 2000, Octavia Butler asked,
So why try to predict the future at all if it’s so difficult, so nearly impossible? Because making predictions is one way to give warning when we see ourselves drifting in dangerous directions. Because prediction is a useful way of pointing out safer, wiser courses. Because, most of all, our tomorrow is the child of our today. Through thought and deed, we exert a great deal of influence over this child, even though we can’t control it absolutely. Best to think about it, though. Best to try to shape it into something good. Best to do that for any child.

Butler’s Parable of the Sower is, like Mad Max, a tale of the road. And, like Mad Max, it’s a difficult but hopeful one. Maybe Porter should read it."
mandybrown  2016  octaviabutler  mikeculfield  eduardoporter  zizek  peterwirzbicki  submergence  hungergames  dystopia  optimism  hope  scifi  sciencefiction  danielimmerwahl  jmledgard  fiction  imagination  future  futurism  capitalism  growth  zerosum  change  economics  climatechange  globalwarming 
february 2016 by robertogreco
A Doll Cabinet in Iowa / Snarkmarket
"To know the future … that’s the dream, right? But it’s a dream that makes sense only if the future is merely revealed, rather than being constructed bit by bit from the traces of the present, which we still have the ability to shape. Let me argue instead for seeking future history — the ability to consider the present through the lens of the future, to find imminent anachronisms hidden in plain sight. What do we take for granted today that will come to seem remarkable tomorrow? What will the history books say about us?

A few months ago, my friends Andy, Amanda, and Amy, and I decided to build a weekend around these questions. And now I’m seeing future history everywhere.

Like all right-thinking people, I’ve been infected with Hamilton fever. The theme of the show that resonates most loudly is the obsession of all the central characters with their place in history. After one recent replay of the score, I found myself tearfully re-reading Washington’s farewell address, a message sent across the ages, to us. Of course, nearly every Presidential farewell has that time-capsule quality — it’s the last best chance for a President to spin his legacy. But fast-forward through more recent ones, and Washington’s stands out all the more. Other Presidents are aware of the watchful eyes of history, but they spend most of their parting speeches dwelling on the recent past — what they saw, what they did, why they did it. Consequently, moments in these speeches can seem parochial or short-sighted, just decades later. “There hasn’t been a failure of an insured bank in nearly 9 years,” Truman says. “The Persian Gulf is no longer a war zone,” Reagan says. We’re “on track to be debt-free by the end of the decade,” Clinton says.

Washington, though, scours his Presidency for lessons that would reverberate across centuries: Cherish your union, he tells us. “It is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize.”

It’s not just lofty Presidential speeches; tiny gestures can mark a break with the past. When Tom Vilsack ascended to the Iowa governor’s mansion, his wife Christie broke slightly with tradition: she elected to have her doll identified by her own name in the cabinet. “I’ve never called myself ‘Mrs. Tom Vilsack,’ ever,” she said. Iowa’s next first lady echoed Christie Vilsack’s choice; her doll is called “Mrs. Mari Culver.”

In 2012, Christie Vilsack tried to change another longstanding Iowa tradition: she ran for Congress. Not only had a woman never been governor of Iowa in 2012, no woman had ever represented the state in either the House or the Senate. “We really have a wonderful history,” the state’s Democratic Party chair said when Vilsack announced her exploratory committee. “With this one problem.”

Vilsack’s run failed; she was defeated by Steve King in 2012. But then something happened, just last year. A streak unbroken since Iowa entered the union in 1846 — nearly 170 years in which a long succession of men exclusively represented Iowa in Congress — ended. Joni Ernst, the daughter of the same Mrs. Mari Culver whose doll sits in a cabinet in the Iowa statehouse, became Iowa’s first ever Congresswoman.

For a weekend in Baltimore in April, we’re going to look for moments like this, and scour our own experiences for ideas and lessons that will endure. We’ll make a time capsule, and we’ll end with a prom; we couldn’t think of two better ways to bring a far-seeing lens to the present. It will be massive fun and I hope you join us if you can. But most of all, I want to know: What do you see around you today that will come to seem remarkable?"
mattthompson  2016  future  history  anachronisms  futurehistory  futurehistoryfestival  events  perspective  legacy  posterity  georgewashington  iowa  change 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Anthropologists in Outer Space - SAPIENS
"Today we not only look at the stars, we send spacecraft to investigate outer space and plan for human habitation on other worlds. The United States and the Soviet Union first sent animals up in rockets in the 1940s, and in 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel to space. By 1969, humans had walked on the moon. Soon after, anthropologists were discussing the problem of how to study emerging cultures of space—a place few people had even been to. In the 1970s, anthropologist and futurist Magoroh Maruyama organized a series of discussions on outer space at the annual American Anthropological Association meetings and the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. These meetings led to the publication of the 1975 book “Cultures Beyond the Earth: The Role of Anthropology in Outer Space.”

In the 1980s, anthropologist Ben Finney turned his eye to space. He combined his experience in the U.S. Navy and the aerospace industry with his anthropological research on how Polynesian people could have crossed the Pacific Ocean. In 1994 anthropologist Roland A. Foulkes drew from this earlier work by Maruyama, Finney, and other anthropologists in his essay “Why Space? An Anthropologist’s Response.” Foulkes even talked about possible names for the field of anthropology that studies space, suggesting astroanthropology, exoanthropology, aerospace-anthropology, or extraterrestrial anthropology.

The call for anthropologists to study outer space was revived in 2009 when anthropologists David Valentine, Valerie Olson, and Debbora Battaglia published a commentary in Anthropology News called “Encountering the Future: Anthropology and Outer Space.” Since “being earthbound is not a limitation” for humans, they argued, it shouldn’t be for anthropologists either.

Over the last decade, anthropologists studying space have written about dozens of topics, including the debate over Pluto’s status as a planet (Lisa Messeri, University of Virginia); how we respond to the threat of an asteroid hitting Earth (Valerie Olson, University of California, Irvine); the diaries kept by cosmonauts while they lived in space (Debbora Battaglia, Mount Holyoke College); new companies and communities in the private space-exploration industry (David Valentine, University of Minnesota); the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (Kathryn Denning, York University); and the science of studying extraterrestrial life (Stefan Helmreich, MIT).

There is even an archaeology of outer space. At Flinders University in Australia, archaeologist Alice Gorman studies the debris we leave in space, from old satellites orbiting the earth to spacecraft, robots, and even shadows on the moon. In her TED talk Gorman explains how the stuff we think of as useless “space junk” actually has value as part of our cultural heritage.

It takes imagination to think like this. Gorman uses her expertise in archaeology and anthropology to imagine how a piece of technology from our recent history could be an important artifact in the future. Work like this inspires me to wonder what human culture might look like in the future—in one hundred, one thousand, or even ten thousand years. This kind of future-aware anthropology draws from both science and science fiction. And in turn, science-fiction authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Phillip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert are all doing speculative anthropology when they use their knowledge of life here on Earth to write fictional works about people, cultures, and landscapes elsewhere and otherwise—on other worlds and in possible futures.

Science fiction has also been an inspiration for space scientists and astronauts. Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space, was inspired as a child when she saw Nichelle Nichols playing Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise in the original “Star Trek” television series. Science fiction also serves as a way of thinking about some of the anthropological problems of both Earth and outer space. What sort of worlds do we imagine might be out there around other stars? What kinds of life, culture, cities, spacecraft, philosophies, and religions might extraterrestrial civilizations have? I also like the idea of turning this extraterrestrial gaze back toward ourselves to ask, What would Earth look like to us if we were looking at it from another world?"



"Anthropologists have often studied what appear at first to be great differences between human communities living across this planet. There are long-standing and ongoing debates in anthropology about differences and similarities, universals and particulars—about how much we can really know or understand about other people’s lives, beliefs, views, and worlds. Anthropology of space can be another way of thinking about these questions. What might we see if we change the scale of the anthropological perspective, imagine ourselves from elsewhere, and look at Earth as a whole from space? For all our apparent differences, perhaps visitors from another world would look down at this small blue planet we live on and think that we’re all quite similar after all."
michaeloman-reagan  space  anthropology  history  future  2016  culture  carlsagan  scifi  sciencefiction  speculativeanthropology  archaeoastronomy  archaeology  astroanthropology  exoanthropology  aerospace-anthropology  extraterrestrialanthropology  magorohmaruyama  benfinney  polynesia  davidvalentine  valerieolson  debborabattaglia  outerspace  lisamesseri  astronauts  cosmonauts  kathryndenning  stefanhelmreich  alicegorman  spacecraft  maejemison  ursulaleguin  octaviabutler  samueldelany  phillipkdick  frankherbert 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Future of Video Is a Wonderful Mess -- Following: How We Live Online
"As video — and livestreaming in particular — grows in popularity on the web, we can expect to see more of this: people becoming their own professional broadcasting operations, warping and tweaking the aesthetic of their stream to fit their brand in a way similar to a cable news channel, and piling loads of extraneous information into the frame. This is exciting! The idea that users want a tidy, uniform experience across a service is mostly an idea clung to by technologists — the average social-media user doesn’t care about cleanliness. If they did, we wouldn’t be seeing an astonishing amount of compression rot in the multimedia passed around on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Tumblr.

Twitch is, as of now, the best indication yet that the web is ebbing back toward Myspace on the Myspace-Facebook spectrum. The reasons for this are both technological — rendering and processing video is expensive — and cultural. As more and more people come of age using the web and using technology, uniformity in design and aesthetic isn’t as necessary. Facebook emerged as a service friendly to people who had never used a social network before, and that population is rapidly dwindling. We’re moving toward visual cacophony because we now have the ability to parse that mess easily. That beautiful mess is something to look forward to."
video  web  online  future  messiness  myspace  aesthetics  facebook  gifs  geocities  webrococo  snapchat  twitter  socialmedia  netflix  hulu  twitch  minecraft  ui  hud  annotations  tumblr  instagram  brainfeldman  multiliteracies 
february 2016 by robertogreco
William Gibson: On Phones, Fiction, and the End of the World | Literary Hub
"In this episode [https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-one/s-0Jwns ] of a A Phone Call From Paul, Paul Holdengraber talks to William Gibson about the end of the world, writing fiction, and how crazy it is that people can make little marks on a page to represent and share their thoughts with other people.

William Gibson on writing through the world…

It isn’t that I would want to particularly be working in a better time, but I suspect that the nature of what I do in fiction has something to do with taking some sort of measurement of the zeitgeist at the time of writing, and writing somehow slightly to the side of that. And there is some way I have, but I don’t really understand it, of finding at least for myself a place of resonance around my most generalized sense of how the world is. I need to find that in order to function, and the current situation seems to have an element of goofy incoherence to it that makes it more than usually difficult to find this complementary resonance.

William Gibson on the competing urges of fiction…

Because I’m writing, I’m in the middle of my writing process now, and when I’m doing that, I’m able to read very little fiction. So whether it’s new fiction for me or old favorites, the enjoyment and the creation of it seem to me to take place in the same part of the mind, so that if the part of the day in which I’m not writing fiction has anything else going on, it’s probably not going to be reading fiction. When I’m writing fiction I tend to read nonfiction.

William Gibson on predicting the future…

I’m ever reluctant to take our predictive narratives totally seriously because I think that in spite of our best efforts at prediction, I think that our self-regard defeats us in the end. That we tend to—we imagine relatively heroic outcomes, and no one wants a prophet standing on the corner saying that everything is going to be hideously stupid and banal. Utterly atrocious, and that’s just the nature of things. It lacks even the—well, the appeal of the apocalypse is closure and a sort of clarity. Yes! The world is ending. And yeah it’s kind of a banner one can get behind, in a way. Its opposite is this kind of willy-nilly nihilistic absurdist narrative that one can feel one is living in.

William Gibson on phonecalls…

You’re reaching me through one of a number of post-urban constructs that humanity’s erected in the past hundred or so years, so we are in a common city with San Bernardino. It’s a virtual space. Even then, one could live in a rural setting and arrange one’s life in such a way that one was completely plugged in to every major city in the world and have no idea that there were trees and birds on the other side of the wall. That wasn’t previously possible, you know? That’s relatively—that’s the last century or so."

[Part 2: http://lithub.com/williams-gibson-on-technophobia-and-the-power-of-film/
and https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-two/s-my54E ]
williamgibson  interviews  paulholdengraber  future  phones  fiction  telephones  internet  web  online  virtualspace 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 4: education
"We hesitated a bit before tackling this one, because education is such a vast and complex subject. But as far as constraints on possible futures go, education is impossible to ignore. Skill sets and thought paths are determined at an early age, shaping and constraining future possibilities for entire generations of pupils. (It is worth rediscovering Ken Robinson’s 2008 talk on changing paradigms in relation to educational constraints.) There are serious consequences to enforcing the constraint of economic utility on education, drastically narrowing curricula to what are considered core subjects, replacing older - not to say obsolete or useless - technologies with newer ones in the classroom, and so on. Maslow’s evocative maxim, often attributed to Mark Twain for reasons unknown, comes to mind: ‘It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.’ Today this might be paraphrased as: ‘Give a child a computer, and everything has to be coded.’ Or 3D printed. Or laser cut. Or CNC machined. Obviously the more of these tools girls and boys are given, the better for them and the country they live in.

Unfortunately, recent educational trends in the UK paint a rather bleak picture where constraints are concerned. An article from the BBC on the rise of 3D printing in schools states: ‘the key inspiration … has been what is loosely termed the “digital maker” movement’. But why digital maker movement and not simply maker movement? The article goes on to tell us that ‘"Fab lab" stands for a “fabrication laboratory”, where digital ideas are turned into products and prototypes.’ Again, why digital ideas and not just ideas? What is it about a fablab that needs to be wholly digital and not a hybrid of materials and practices? (Some spaces and curricula do seek to fuse the old ‘shop’ class with the new computer lab, but other concerns may arise - as in the case a few years ago of controversial DARPA military funding to put a thousand DIY workshops in US high schools.)

A UK Government report, meanwhile, that lays out the agenda on 3D printing in education there, includes the following ‘points to consider’: ‘Who will use it? What will it be used for?’ These are good questions, too seldom asked. As for the questions that were not asked, they might include: ‘What will happen to the old machines?’, ‘What will happen to the old knowledge?’ and ‘What is lost in the headlong rush to full digitalisation?’ 3D printing holds an enormous amount of potential, as boundary pushing movements like 3D Additivism demonstrate. But the 3D printer and the laser cutter shouldn’t be the only tools in the box, and deskilling leads to a narrowing of possibilities for everyone.

Roland Barthes, writing in the 1950s about the sudden shift from traditional wooden toys to plastic ones, observed:
Wood makes essential objects, objects for all time. Yet there hardly remain any of these wooden toys…. Henceforth, toys are chemical in substance and colour; their very material introduces one to a coenaesthesis of use, not pleasure. These toys die in fact very quickly, and once dead, they have no posthumous life for the child.

A word of warning to those who would abandon old areas of knowledge and useful materials too quickly."
crapfutures  2016  rolandbarthes  wood  education  children  durability  materials  time  slow  plastic  future  futures  3dprinting  digital  digitization  3dadditivism  fablabs  darpa  diy  making  makermovement  economics  purpose  additivism  fablab 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no.3: non-ecological thinking
"When we think of the power to focus on a particular problem and solve it, we generally think of it as a useful ability. But what if the power to focus comes at the exclusion of the larger picture? Those responsible for putting new technological products into the public domain are often guilty of thinking in very localised terms - in other words, non-ecologically. This constraint is essentially about a chronic lack of lateral thinking; of being so focused on the immediate action or problem that implications for the broader ecology are ignored.

This was pioneering ecologist Charles Elton’s advice in 1927:
When an ecologist says ‘there goes a badger’, he should include in his thoughts some definite idea of the animal’s place in the community to which it belongs, just as if he had said, ‘there goes the vicar.

More recently, the cultural critic Neil Postman described technological change as ecological (in ‘Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change’, 1998):
Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. I can explain this best by an analogy. What happens if we place a drop of red dye into a beaker of clear water? Do we have clear water plus a spot of red dye? Obviously not. We have a new coloration to every molecule of water. That is what I mean by ecological change. A new medium does not add something; it changes everything. In the year 1500, after the printing press was invented, you did not have old Europe plus the printing press. You had a different Europe. After television, America was not America plus television. Television gave a new coloration to every political campaign, to every home, to every school, to every church, to every industry, and so on.

So what happens when that dye is added? There are some obvious history lessons. To return to the nature analogy, for example, there is the introduction of humans - and with them rats, pigs, dogs, and monkeys - to Mauritius in 1505. (It was the Portuguese who first landed in Mauritius, a few years after discovering our little previously uninhabited island.) Mauritius was the home of the fabled, and sadly flightless, dodo bird. The dodo had evolved to fill a niche and naturally became complacent on its peaceful island, too relaxed in a world without predators to handle the first signs of globalisation. The flightless birds were completely unprepared for the new mammals … and as a result, they didn’t last long. Interestingly, the story of the dodo is not yet over: although the bird became extinct centuries ago, a certain species of tree that depended on the dodo for its own existence is only now following its path to extinction.

In market terms, meanwhile, there is the demise of independent local shops since the 1970s - made obsolete by supermarkets, shopping malls, and big box stores. The incursion of these consumer flytraps destabilized the harmony of communities and destroyed the fragile ecosystems of the high street and city centre - ecosystems that local governments have for years now been trying to regenerate, with varying degrees of success.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons why disruption occurs. Megastores like Whole Foods and Costco are nice to have nearby (as we at Crap Futures know very well, living on a remote island without their convenience). Food is usually cheaper and everything is in one place. Likewise Uber, which provides a better, neater, cleaner, cheaper, more efficient service than the established taxi companies in many places. The old taxi companies, like the flightless birds, became complacent in their gentle habitat; the Uber dogs came along and ate them up. But it won’t end there. As Uber’s Travis Kalanick said in a recent speech: ‘We don’t want to be like the taxi guys who came before us – we embrace the future.’ Uber drivers could well be replaced by the autonomous car in the not-too-distant future - a contingency Uber is aware of and hopes to see happen under its own control.

As the complexity of human ecosystems increases, the potential disruptors are becoming more subtle.

Perhaps the best example is the mobile phone. It started as just a portable phone, then a particularly small portable phone (what Germans sensibly named a ‘handy’). At this stage it still had relatively limited potential to disrupt. But then ‘smart’ features and supporting networks were gradually added, until suddenly the mobile phone had the ability to stir up and irreparably alter huge swathes of the urban ecosystem with app-based service companies such as Uber. In the past, interactions between user and product were temporary and limited - telephone cables fixed the context, isolating and containing the effect. The ubiquity and mobility of products today means that the effects of interaction create a complexity that cannot be readily understood - implications are far harder to imagine and more far-reaching. This only means that it is increasingly important to find ways of imagining these knock-on effects before they happen.

John Steinbeck paints a beautiful image of ecological complexity in The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951), an account of the six-week specimen-hunting trip Steinbeck took in the Gulf of California with the marine biologist Ed Ricketts:
One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air. And the units nestle into the whole and are inseparable from it … all things are one thing and one thing is all things – plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.

Steinbeck’s description of life in the tide pool poetically captures the complexity of scales, timeframes, and interactions that operate in a natural ecosystem - a complexity that is echoed in technological and cultural systems.

Some important questions to ask are:

How will a product be used, and by whom?

How will it interact with other (especially networked) products in the environment?

What happens when the product is moved to another habitat, possibly one it was not intended for, or to which it is not ideally suited?"
crapfutures  charleselton  1927  1998  neilpostman  ecosystems  systemsthinking  technology  future  complecity  production  environment  bighere  longnow  johnsteinbeck  nature  huamsn  anthropocene  globalization  2015  change  mauritius  dodo  disruption  local  power 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 2: legacies of the past
"We are locked into paths determined by decisions or choices made in previous eras, when the world was a much different place. For various reasons these legacies stubbornly persist through time, constraining future possibilities and blinkering us from alternative ways of thinking.

Here, sketched as usual on a napkin over coffee and toast, are some thoughts on legacies of the past that exercise power over our future.

Infrastructure. Take energy, for example. Tesla’s invention of alternating current became the dominant system - rather than Edison’s direct current - essentially because it allowed electricity generated at power stations to be capable of travelling large distances. Tesla’s system has, for the most part, been adopted across the world - an enormous network of stations, cables, pylons, and transformers, with electrical power arriving in our homes through sockets in the wall. This pervasive system dictates or influences almost everything energy related, and in highly complex ways: from the development of new energy generation methods (and figuring out how to feed that energy into the grid) to the design of any electrical product.

Another example is transportation. As Crap Futures has discovered, it is hard to get around this volcanic and vertiginous island without a car. There are no trains, it is too hilly to ride a bike, buses are slow and infrequent, and meanwhile over the past few decades the regional government - one particular government with a 37-year reign - poured millions into building a complex network of roads and tunnels. People used to get to other parts of the island by boat; now (and for the foreseeable future) it is by private car. This is an example of recent infrastructure that a) perpetuated and was dictated by dominant ideas of how transportation infrastructure should be done, and b) will further constrain possibilities for the island into the future.

Laws and insurance. There is a problematic time-slip between the existence of laws and insurance and the real-life behaviour of humans. Laws and insurance are for the most part reactive: insurance policies, for example, are based on amassed data that informs the broker of risk levels, and this system therefore needs history to work. So when you try to insert a new product or concept - a self-driving car or delivery drone - into everyday life, the insurance system pushes back. Insurance companies don’t want to gamble on an unknown future; they want to look at the future through historical data, which is by nature a conservative lens.

Laws, insurance, and historical infrastructure often work together to curb radical change. This partly explains why many of the now technologically realisable dreams of the past, from jetpacks to flying cars, are unlikely to become an everyday reality in that imagined form - more likely they will adapt and conform to existing systems and rules.
"No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time." — Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays (1910)

It is true that laws sometimes outstay their welcome or impede progress. The slow pace at which laws change becomes more and more apparent as the pace of innovation increases. But there are positive as well as negative constraints, and laws often constrain us for good (which of course is their supposed function). At best, they check our impulses, give us a cooling off period, prevent us from tearing everything down at a whim.

So the law can be a force for good. But then of course - good, bad, or ineffectual - there are always those who find ways to circumvent the law. Jonathan Swift wrote: ‘Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.’ With their shock-and-awe tactics, companies like Uber manage to overcome traditional legal barriers by moving faster than local laws or simply being big enough to shrug off serious legal challenges.

Technology is evolutionary. (See Heilbroner’s quote in the future nudge post.) Comparisons between natural and technological evolution have been a regular phenomenon since as far back Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859). Darwin’s revolutionary work inspired philosophers, writers, and anthropologists - Marx and Engels, Samuel Butler, Augustus Pitt-Rivers - to suggest that technological artefacts evolve in a manner similar to natural organisms. This essentially means that technological development is unidirectional, and that radical new possibilities do not happen.

Viewing technology in evolutionary terms would appear to constrain us to only the possibilities that we could reasonably ‘evolve’ into. But this does not have to be the case: natural evolution works by random mutation and natural selection with no ‘plan’ as such, whereas technological innovation and product design are firmly teleologic (literally ‘end-directed’). In other words, the evolutionary model of technological change ignores basic human agency. While natural organisms can’t dip into the historical gene pool to bring back previous mutations, however useful they might be, innovators and designers are not locked into an irreversible evolutionary march and can look backward whenever they choose. So why don’t they? It is a case - circling back to constraint no. 1 - of thinking under the influence of progress dogma."
2015  crapfutures  constraints  darwin  evolution  innovation  future  progress  progressdogma  transportation  infrastructure  law  legal  time  pace  engels  friedrichengels  technology  californianideology  emmagoldman  anarchism  insurance  policy  electricity  nikolatesla  thomasedison  systems  systemsthinking  jonathanswift  samuelbutler  karlmarx  longnow  bighere  augustuspitt-rivers 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 1: progress dogma
"Despite the name, Crap Futures is not all gloom and doom. We may view notions of progress with a sceptical eye, but we still subscribe - heartily, even - to the pursuit of a better world, however small our contribution might be.

In that spirit of improvement - and to introduce the first in our new series on constraints - let us turn for a moment to Ray Bradbury, the presiding Crap Futures muse. In his short story ‘A Sound of Thunder’ (1952), the protagonist, Eckels, travels back to the Late Cretaceous period to track and kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The slogan of the company that organises these tours, Time Safari, Inc., is straightforward: ‘Safaris to any year of the past … we take you there, you shoot it.’ Time Safari’s main job, aside from organising tours, is making sure each hunter leaves no footprint, literally or figuratively, in or on the past (or future - whatever, it’s confusing).

The spark in Bradbury’s cautionary tale is Time Safari’s meticulous treatment of the prehistoric ecosystem. With the vast timeframes involved, minute changes to a particular point in the past - increasing exponentially through time - can lead to dramatic differences in everything proceeding from that point. To avoid contaminating the past and altering the future, an ‘anti-gravity metal’ path hovers above the prehistoric jungle, from which hunters are instructed never to stray in even the slightest. The possible impact of any deviation from the path is conveyed in dramatic terms by the tour guide: ‘Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity.’ The hunters even wear special ‘oxygen helmets’ to avoid introducing ‘bacteria into the ancient atmosphere’.

Naturally enough, however, Eckels panics at the sight of the Tyrannosaurus and accidentally steps off the path. This leads to a typically Bradburyesque climax - which we won’t spoil here for those of you who haven’t read it.

The key message of Constraint No. 1 is that unlike Time Safari, most of those with a hand in ‘how the future happens’ have no motivation to think about long term consequences of their actions. So blinded are they, in fact, by the bright lights of progress and its successor innovation that any potentially negative impact is ignored. This positivistic message about technology is endemic, and is only being exacerbated by the ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’ culture of the social network. Unfortunately, as we know, life is complicated and unforeseen negative outcomes happen.

Progress dogma keeps us on the current technological trajectory - it is belief as a motivational force of change. It gives this trajectory huge momentum, meaning that is is virtually impossible to change course. If you’ll pardon the bleak image, it’s a bit like the Titanic sailing directly into potentially fatal waters without a care in the world.

Once we remove the constraints of positive thinking, it becomes possible to more realistically apprehend the future in (some of) its complexity, helping us to figure out what to avoid as well as where to aim. So, how can we rethink progress to identify possible implications? How can we disconnect from the utopian mantra and twentieth-century mindset of positivist corporate culture?'
crapfutures  raybradbury  design  titanic  dinosaurs  sciencefiction  scifi  innovation  constraints  progress  technology  systemsthinking  time  longnow  bighere  skepticism  timesafari  implications  consequences  caution  positivism  future  duediligence  diligence  change  ecosystems  californianideology  2015 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Sternberg Press - Benjamin H. Bratton
"e-flux journal
Benjamin H. Bratton
Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution

With a foreword by Keller Easterling

Equal parts Borges, Burroughs, Baudrillard, and Black Ops, Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution charts a treacherous landscape filled with paranoid master plans, failed schemes, and dubious histories.

Benjamin H. Bratton’s kaleidoscopic theory-fiction links the utopian fantasies of political violence with the equally utopian programs of security and control. Both rely on all manner of doubles, models, gimmicks, ruses, prototypes, and shock-and-awe campaigns to realize their propagandas of the deed, threat, and image. Blurring reality and delusion, they collaborate on a literally psychotic politics of architecture.

The cast of characters in this ensemble drama of righteous desperation and tactical trickery shuttle between fact and speculation, action and script, flesh and symbol, death and philosophy: insect urbanists, seditious masquerades, epistolary ideologues, distant dissimulations, carnivorous installations, forgotten footage, branded revolts, imploding skyscrapers, sentimental memorials, ad-hoc bunkers, sacred hijackings, vampire safe-houses, suburban enclaves, big-time proposals, ambient security protocols, disputed borders-of-convenience, empty research campuses, and robotic surgery.

In this mosaic we glimpse a future city built with designed violence and the violence of design. As one ratifies the other, the exception becomes the ruler."

[on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dispute-Prevent-Future-Constitution-journal-ebook/dp/B01ABCB8FM/ ]
benjaminbratton  kellereasterling  borges  baudrillard  blackops  williamsburroughs  fiction  toread  books  future  futures  utopia  politics  security  control  propaganda  sciencefiction  violence 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures
[via: https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/685336107312009217 ]

"Crap Futures is a blog about futures, innovation, politics, technology.

Crap in this context means underwhelming, disappointing, poorly thought out, badly done, inadequate, or sad. Nonsense or drivel.

Crap Futures casts a critical eye on corporate dreams and emerging technologies. It asks questions about where society is heading, who is taking us there, and whether ‘there’ is where we really want to end up.

who we are

James Auger is an Associate Professor at Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, Portugal. On graduating from Design Products at the Royal College of Art in 2001 James moved to Dublin to conduct research at Media Lab Europe (MLE) exploring the theme of human communication as mediated by technology. After MLE he worked in Tokyo as guest designer at the Issey Miyake Design Studio developing new concepts for mobile telephones. Between 2005 and 2015 James was part of the critically acclaimed Design Interactions department at the RCA, teaching on the MA programme and continuing his development of critical and speculative approaches to design and technology, completing his PhD on the subject in 2012. Running parallel to his academic work, James is half of the speculative design practice Auger-Loizeau, a collaboration founded in 2000. Auger-Loizeau projects have been published and exhibited internationally, including MoMA, New York; 21_21, Tokyo; The Science Museum, London; The National Museum of China, Beijing and Ars Electronica, Linz. Their work is in the permanent collection at MoMA.

Julian Hanna is an Assistant Professor at M-ITI. His writing on modernist and avant-garde culture has appeared in academic journals as well as the Atlantic, 3:AM, Berfrois, and elsewhere. Since joining M-ITI in 2013 his research has shifted toward futures studies, digital storytelling, design fiction, and livability."

[from http://crapfutures.tumblr.com/post/133586760654/about-about

"Here’s a bit of background on the authors, in the form of an interview.

James: Julian, as someone coming from literature, etc., what is your interest in the future?

I was never as interested in science fiction, or what I thought was sci-fi, as I was in other types of experimental literature - modernists like Joyce and the sort of stuff you were meant to read in university. At a certain point I had to make up for lost time, and began devouring Bradbury, Le Guin, Wells and the rest. What I did read a lot of during my studies, though, were manifestos - and all those improbable visions of the Futurists and Vorticists and Situationists still shape my thinking about futures, including what we’ll call ‘crap futures’. The Futurist Fortunato Depero, for example, who was a brilliant designer, wanted to design toys that not only stimulated children’s creativity, but also prepared them for the total and perpetual war that the Futurists were always promoting. So that was an early crap future.

But as far as literature informing my thoughts about futures - I remember feeling a mix of gratitude and relief when I heard Warren Ellis’s closing keynote (‘Some Bleak Circus’) at FutureEverything last year. Ellis spoke about the future through manifestos and ideas drawn from literature, and without resorting to a bunch of tech jargon. He looked like a storyteller, sitting in his old leather armchair and reading from a Kindle. That’s when it hit me that talking about the future wasn’t just the business of foresight consultants. But in fact there is a long history - Marshall McLuhan, for example, couldn’t go two pages in a future prophecy without mentioning Finnegans Wake.

The other way I engage with futures is through my training in critical thinking, close reading, and so on. I found I could look at the fictions propagated by the corporate world about possible futures the same way I could look at other types of storytelling. Thankfully this critical approach to futures has been gaining ground in recent years, establishing some much needed resistance to the kind of boosterism that dominates not only the corporate world but also a lot of tech research in the academic sphere. For various reasons the question of why more innovation in needed is far too seldom asked.

Julian: And you, James: as a designer - etc.! - how do you see the future?

It would be fair to say that I am approaching the time of life when men typically become grumpy. I am becoming increasingly grumpy about design and about the future.

As a young design student in the 90s I was proud to be practicing in my chosen discipline and happily set about learning how to develop new products that people might want to own. But looking back I realise that my education (and the majority of other designers’) desperately lacked any critical or philosophical foundation.

Myths taught at design school:

1. Design is good

2. Design makes people’s lives better

3. Design solves problems

Of course design can be and do all of these things but it has become so intrinsically linked to the complex systems of commerce and innovation that it has essentially been reduced to a novelty machine. Optimism is endemic meaning that it is unnatural for designers to think about the implications of their (technological) products: technology is good; products are good; and the future (through technological products) will therefore also be good!

I have recently been thinking a lot about constraints (it is normal for a designer), but going beyond the immediate and obvious such as costs, material, physical etc. to consider what are the constraints that reduce the possibilities of the future, or perpetuate certain trajectories.

Or alternatively the un-constraints of libertarian thinking - the techno-utopian dictatorships of Silicon Valley …

I will explore these over the coming weeks …"]

[See also: http://www.nicolasnova.net/pasta-and-vinegar/2016/1/7/crap-future ]
tumblrs  crapfutures  future  futures  futurism  julianhanna  jamesauger  criticism  innovation  politics  critique  technology 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Battle Cry of the Android
"Black people cannot time travel. Every comedian has a joke about this.

On a July episode of the BuzzFeed podcast Another Round, hosts Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu play a game that, they joke, was clearly written by white people because of the multitude of time travel questions. “Only white people love time travel,” Nigatu says. In a standup bit, Louis C.K. calls time travel an exclusively white privilege. “Here’s how great it is to be white,” he says. “I can get in a time machine and go to any time, and it would be fucking awesome when I get there!” A recent MTV Decoded sketch imagines that in a black version of Back to the Future, the DeLorean would never have left the mall parking lot. “Nineteen-fifty-five?” black Marty McFly asks. “You know what, Doc? I think I’m actually good right here.”

I laugh at these jokes, although their premise is devastating: a vision of blackness where suffering is continuous and inevitable. We can imagine a fantastical world where time travel is possible, yet we cannot conceive of any point in the past, or even the future, where black people can live free. In this line of thought, the present is the best life has ever been for black people, and perhaps the best it will ever be.

Into this grim possibility arrives Janelle Monáe. Monáe first captivated me in her 2010 video “Tightrope,” where, in the bleakness of a notorious insane asylum, the tuxedoed and pompadoured singer glides like James Brown over funky horns. Although her sound and image harken back to classic soul, her music contains a mythology that looks toward the future. Her EP Metropolis and albums The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady follow Cindi Mayweather, an android living in the year 2719 who falls in love with a human and is sentenced to disassembly. Cindi later rises as the ArchAndroid, a messianic figure who provides hope that androids may someday be liberated. The sprawling, multi-project narrative can be difficult to follow, but the futuristic world she imagines echoes our own. “When I speak about the android, it’s the other,” she told LGBTQ newspaper Between the Lines. “You can parallel that to the gay community, to the black community, to women.” To Monáe, the android—part human, part robot, never fully either—represents the outsider. To visit her futuristic world of Metropolis is to encounter characters who face discrimination, as well as to imagine their liberation.

For interviews, Monáe has frequently remained in character as Cindi Mayweather, visitor from the future. (When asked about her sexuality in Rolling Stone, she refused to label herself and insisted she only dates androids.) In February 2015, she announced her new label, the Atlanta-based Wondaland Records, which hosts a collection of eclectic black artists who, like Monáe, seem to exist outside of time. At the Wondaland showcase during the BET Experience, Monáe described St. Beauty as “flower children,” Roman GianArthur as “another Freddie Mercury.” Her best-known artist, Jidenna, dropped the hit single “Classic Man” earlier this year, but baffled audiences with his three-piece suits, ascots, and canes. To FADER, Jidenna explained that he was inspired by the style of freedmen in the Jim Crow South: “I wear a suit because I need to remember what’s happened before me.” In Wondaland, style is radicalized, fashion a form of political resistance.

What does it mean to borrow the fashions of Reconstruction, an era in which no sensible black person, given time-traveling technology, would want to visit? Or to imagine a futuristic world where an android faces bigotry similar to our reality? Wondaland’s music is melodic, funky, and fun, as well as undeniably political. At the showcase, Monáe repeatedly referred to her record label as a “movement” and spoke about the responsibility she feels toward her community. Similarly, Wondaland artists have been outspoken critics of police brutality, leading marches against police violence and, in August, dropping the protest anthem “Hell You Talmbout (Say Their Names).” Against urgent drums and a choir of voices, Monáe, Jidenna, St. Beauty, Roman GianArthur, and Deep Cotton chant the names of black victims of police violence, from Emmett Till and Sean Bell to Michael Brown and Sandra Bland. The song is difficult to listen to, a seemingly endless list of names that the Wondaland artists—voices strained with anger and grief—urge us to remember. Say their names. The song is a battle cry, and in a war against black suffering, memory is the weapon.

In Wondaland, time travel is never an escape from the plights of contemporary black life. Instead, by floating through time, by playing with the tropes of the past, by inventing new mythologies and new futures, Monáe and her artists expand the possibilities of black art and showcase the complexity of black lives, its struggles and its triumphs. Wondaland artists are in our time but not of it, and there’s something beautifully resistant about this. Black people liberated from time itself, imagining ourselves anywhere."
2015  afrofuturism  tracyclayton  hebennigatu  timetravel  janellemonáe  fashion  wondaland  reconstruction  jidenna  freedmen  south  jimcrow  romangianarthur  stbeauty  cindimayweather  future  futurism  srg  wondalandrecords 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley’s Basic Income Bromance — Backchannel — Medium
"A cult of bros, brahmins and braintrusters is pushing the idea of a government-distributed living wage"



"Among the grassroots braintrust, Santens is elite.

His fascination with basic income started in his late 30s, with a Reddit thread about how quickly tech-induced unemployment was coming. He read about basic income as a possible solution, and was hooked. “When I came across this idea and read more and more into it, I’m like wow, this is something that can totally change the world for the better.” In the fall of 2013 he abandoned his career as a freelance web developer to become the movement’s most omnipresent advocate. “People passionate about basic income don’t have a very loud voice,” he says.

In person, Santens doesn’t have one either; he’s polite and thoughtful, a reed-like 6-foot-2. His microphone is Medium and The Huffington Post, the Basic Income subreddit he moderates, and his Twitter account, from which he tweets anything in the day’s news that can be summoned into a case for basic income. Santens also created a Twibbon to superimpose #basicincome on one’s Twitter or Facebook profile pic. Such is the newness of this movement in the United States that the guy who does all this wins a profile in The Atlantic, and gets invited to talk on a Brookings Institution panel.

The technologist crowd says a basic income will become a moral imperative as robots replace workers and unemployment skyrockets. Conservatives say it would replace the kraken of welfare bureaucracy, with its arbitrary income cutoffs and overlapping programs. Optimists say humanity will no longer have to work for survival, freeing us to instead work for self-actualization. (You know, start businesses. Go to school. Do unpaid care, volunteer, and parenting work that doesn’t add a cent to the GDP.) Progressives say it would level the playing field: the working classes could have a taste of the stability that’s become an upper-middle class luxury, and would have bargaining power with low-paid work.

It’s a compelling idea having an international moment: Finland’s government announced first steps toward a basic income pilot project in 2017. Details aren’t finalized, but early plans call for giving 800 to 1,000 euros a month to a large test group for two years instead of any other social benefits. (Tally it up to another socialist program from a Northern European country if you will, but Finland is trying to solve eerily familiar U.S. problems: a growing class of freelancers who were neither eligible for employment benefits nor unemployment, and Finns in the poverty trap: taking a temporary job decreases your welfare benefits.) Several Dutch cities aim to introduce similar programs next year, and the idea of a universal basic income has gotten some consideration and endorsements in Canada, where it was tried for five years in the 1970s in Manitoba.

In the United States, it only makes sense that Silicon Valley would be the natural habitat for basic income bros, brahmins, and braintrusts. The Bay Area is home to a fertile mix of early adopters, earnest change-the-worlders, the Singularity crowd, cryptocurrency hackers, progressives and libertarians — all of whom have their reasons for supporting a universal basic income. “Some of my friends [in favor] are hardcore libertarian types, and others will be left-wing even by San Francisco standards,” says Steven Grimm, an early Facebook engineer who now writes code for a cash transfer platform used by charities, the most direct way he could think of to apply his skills to advance basic income. If we’re name-dropping: Zipcar CEO Robin Chase, Singularity University’s Peter Diamandis, Jeremy Howard, Kathryn Myronuk, and Neil Jacobstein, and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich, Tesla principal engineer Gerald Huff, author Martin Ford, Samasource CEO Leila Janah, and Silicon Valley optimist-in-chief Marc Andreessen all support it.

So of course, while Scott Santens isn’t from here, he needs to come kiss the ring."



"Back in San Francisco at the end of his trip, Santens was mostly killing time before a 2:00 am redeye (to avoid the hotel bill, of course). We leave Patreon and head out to Market Street, and Santens snaps a photo of the Twitter headquarters plopped in the middle of the city’s tech-gentrified skid row, where the city’s polarized classes come into sharp relief.

It’s a boulevard of all the ills Santens believes basic income will solve: the shuffling homeless people — they could get cash in one fell swoop instead of extracting it from a byzantine welfare system. Lining the sidewalk are drug dealers; they could do something else, and their customers — not having to self-medicate their desperation — might dry up, too. We pass the Crazy Horse strip club. No one would have to dance or do sex work out of poverty, leaving it to the true aficionados. The high-interest payday loan shop would lose its raison d’etre.

The thought experiment of basic income serves as a Rorschach test of one’s beliefs about human nature: some people instantly worry that human enterprise would be reduced to playing PlayStation; others point to the studies of cash transfers that show people increase their working hours and production. One cash transfer program in North Carolina revealed long-term beneficial effects on Cherokee children whose parents received some $6,000 a year from a distribution of casino profits. (The kids were more likely to graduate high school on time, less likely to have psychiatric or alcohol abuse problems in adulthood.) No one debates that $1,000 a month, the amount usually discussed as a basic income in the U.S., would only be enough to cover the basics — and in expensive cities like San Francisco, not even that. Anyone wanting to live with greater creature comforts would still have the carrot of paid work.

Santens is, unsurprisingly, of the optimist group. He tells me about his baby boomer dad who moved into The Villages, the luxury retirement community in Florida (“basically Walt Disney World for senior citizens”). He says it’s a great case study in that people stay busy even when they don’t have to work: the seniors join kayak and billiards clubs, paint watercolors, and go to Zumba. “People do all sorts of things.” His dad is partial to golf.

Before he goes, I ask what he would do if he truly got a basic income, one that was not dependent on advocating basic income. “I’d do more screen-writing,” he says. “I’m a sci-fi writer at heart.”
You might be a basic income bro if, if and when basic income comes, you finally can do something else."
laurensmiley  siliconvalley  universalbasicincome  libertarianism  economics  2015  policy  government  miltonfriedman  richardnixon  edwardsnowden  martinlutherkingjr  scottsantens  arjunbanker  robinchase  peterdiamandis  jeremyhoward  kathrynmyronuk  neiljacobstein  samaltman  robertreich  geraldhuff  martinford  leilajanah  marcandreessen  rosebroome  jimpugh  finland  erikbrynjolfsson  federicopistono  singularityuniversity  automation  future  robots  bullshitjobs  efficiency  publicassistance 
december 2015 by robertogreco
‘This is the dirty, magical realism future of Los Angeles’ | Buildings | Architectural Review
"Maltzan’s bold, stacked forms engage with a formerly industrial neighbourhood in downtown LA

Fundamental transformations are taking place within the two main urban centres of California, the state that exemplified a previous model of laissez-faire sub-urbanity. The force of change is a new generation of urban dwellers that bring a different set of values around identity, community and responsibility. The effect of these changes seems to differ between the two cities, as a forum commenter recently pointedly summarised: ‘San Francisco is a utopia gone wrong, while Los Angeles is a dystopia gone right.’ While SF’s development has become dubiously intertwined with the tech boom and its relating social disparities, LA is possibly evolving towards a more enmeshed alternative. These developments deserve attention, as even more than the car-oriented suburb of the ’60s, this current idea of the city might well become the model for other developing regions around the globe.

Los Angeles for decades was understood as an entropic field of enclaves. A mat-city where sunshades and windshields allowed for a coexistence of minimal interaction, as depicted so cleverly in Robert Altman’s Shortcuts (1993). The city’s downtown frequents as hell-on-earth in numerous sci-fi movies. For years, the dark and haunted vision of this part of town, as depicted in Blade Runner (1982), was an idée fixe. Come 2014, Spike Jonze’s magical realism brings us a radically new notion of what LA’s future might look like. In Her, the movie in which protagonist Theodore Twombly falls in love with an OS with an exceptionally seductive voice, the future of downtown LA is clean, dense and comfortable. According to Her cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, Jonze wanted an LA set in the not-so-distant future – a ‘world that was tactile and pleasant: the very opposite of a dystopian future’.

Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan has been contemplating the not-so-distant future of LA for a while, leading in 2011 to his book No More Play. ‘The city is at a moment where much of the way that it has been developed in the past, which has created both the physical and psychological identity for the city – a city that just continued to push the boundaries outward and sprawl into the periphery – that data equation is probably untenable at this point. There is an extraordinary pressure back in and onto the city that is creating a kind of overwriting of the city in a very intense way.’ This brings up a number of questions that other cities, older more traditional cities, probably have dealt with in the past, things like transport, and certainly scale and density as important urban questions. What Maltzan has been most interested in, ‘is trying to imagine how you deal with those questions, but deal with them in a way that is inspired by and specific to Los Angeles. I don’t think it really helps at all to try to import models from other established or more traditional cities into a culture that has its own identity, its own character, its own spirit’.

This spirit is increasingly emerging in Maltzan’s own work. His lines and forms are daring and bold. His predominantly white massings, shaped through hard chamfers and sharp facets, gain their expression in the dark shadows of the Sunshine State. More particular is his embrace of the raw and given – the reality of the everyday in all its looseness and unpredictability. This engagement with the real, which was also crucial for fellow Angeleno and former employer, Frank Gehry, is helping Maltzan now add two significant projects to LA evolving downtown less than a mile apart."



"As the project’s linear form moves south, it begins to shift, delaminating to create views and ground-level connections across its width for a clear connection to the LA River and future transit nodes. Says Maltzan, ‘It’s seen as a three-dimensional armature that eventually weaves itself into the city.’ Interspersed in this connective network are the contemporary perks these buildings require such as pools, barbecue decks and gyms as points of orientation.

Both The Star Apartments and One Santa Fe are frugal encampments of wood and stucco on top of a new ground with its concrete structures and ordinary plumbing exposed. They are built to current economic realities and construction techniques. In their parti, the projects evoke Masato Otaka’s Sakaide Artificial Ground development (1968-86). This Japanese Metabolist established an artificial datum over a seismically unstable slum area in Sakaide, using a fixed concrete slab and beam platform, which housed itinerant salt workers in a series of prefabricated housing structures on the slab. Underneath was occupied by offices, shops, parking and a network of pedestrian alleys. The second ground certainly is not a new concept in architecture, but other than in its utopian or Structuralist precursors, Maltzan’s new ground is not infused with radical rhetorics. Somewhere within the amalgam of new realities, housing subsidies, affordability ratios, zoning requirements, ROI models, parking quota, etc, Maltzan is able to create two projects that are both unique and memorable.

In addition to that, in their pragmatism and embrace of the currents of our time, they form a ‘casual’ manifesto of how the city could transform. Unlike in other cities, space in LA is actually not yet precious, so doubling the ground is not to create more; it is the introduction of a layer within the city that can take on new community or urban roles. The new public layers appear as a testing ground, or antechamber, allowing the changing and diverse LA populace to gradually get reconnected, to both the outside and to the other. ‘I think architecture through building form has a responsibility to try to point to what urban forms are going to look like and what the city’s going to look like. These buildings are trying to do that,’ says Maltzan. If this is where the city is heading, a ‘dirty’, magical realism awaits us in the not-too-distant future."
losangeles  sanfrancisco  california  2015  architects  housing  cities  michaelmaltzan  design  urbanism  onesantafe  dystopia  spikejonze  her  future  sprawl  density 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Pickle: A Conversation About Making Digital Books — Medium
"But I also wonder if there’s a factor beyond straight economics — a way in which the currently ascendant Startup Narrative can get applied where it doesn’t quite belong. Robin, you brought up the question of platforms vs one-off, artisanal apps. I think the answer has got to be somewhere in between — an assortment of platforms, plus an accrual of code libraries and lessons learned. But I also think that question itself can be inhibiting to the creative process — this drive to anticipate the future, to guess correctly, to fit optimally within larger trends. To me, maybe that’s the true reality-distortion field — the blurring of “worthwhile” and “scalable,” the idea that valuation will tell us whether something’s a good idea. That standard might work well for, say, grocery-delivery startups, but is it how we want to think about our novels, our stories, our art-whatevers? Publishing has grappled with these tensions for centuries, but they might be less familiar in the tech world.

Sorry to sound like an elderly hippie! I guess what I’m trying to say is this: If every novel is an implicit declaration of a definitive Future of Publishing, we’ll miss out on a lot of great novels — and, what’s more, we might miss out on some great futures of publishing too. I don’t know if these answers can really be found without rolling up our sleeves and just Making Stuff — seeing what works, what doesn’t, what’s annoying, what’s fun, how many dumb pickle jokes are too many, etc. Having a strange idea and then bringing it into reality, regardless of efficiency or scalability.

This comes back to Russell’s description of the process — meandering, playful, with lots of back-and-forth between the two of us and between the various demands of the project. What he describes is typical of many creative endeavors, but it might be a bit unusual for a traditional programming job. Pickle could never have resulted from me handing Russell a finished text and a list of specs — I mean, we thought we had a decent idea about what we were making two years ago, but we were very wrong. The project had to find itself, and that required actual collaboration, not just outsourcing — fluidity and looseness, experimentation and fun.

As for whether “eight years of ebooks” is a blink or an eternity, I have no idea. But I do know that there’s no guarantee that we’ll end up in a place that serves us as individuals, as readers and writers. I mean, look at television — finally flowering after, what, sixty years? And not as a result of any fundamental change to the medium, but just a bunch of smaller evolutions that opened the door to new creators and new audiences. I’m hoping we won’t have to wait til 2068 for ebooks to do the same (though I’m sure Russell is itching to whip up a multiplatform rendering of 91-year-old Eli’s epic poem, Incontinence on Mars)."
elihorowitz  2015  books  creativity  publishing  economics  tv  television  playfulness  play  making  experimentation  future  thepickleindex  storytelling  scalability  scale  platforms  suddenoak  russellquinn  fluidity  looseness  glvo  srg 
december 2015 by robertogreco
A New Installation Gamifies the Future of Los Angeles | GOOD
"Like any city, Los Angeles has taken on various forms throughout its history. What was once a small Mexican town now sprawls in every direction as the entertainment capital of the world, resembling from an aerial view a gigantic circuit board.

Building on archives of the city’s past at the University of Southern California (USC), the new exhibition LATBD imagines a future vision of Los Angeles. In a sense, LATBD gamifies the city. In a library on the USC campus, the installation features 3D models, interactive text, one-off game boards designed by David Mellen, and historical artifacts, all arranged so that viewers can construct their own visions of future Los Angeles.

Conceived and created by collaborators Geoff Manaugh, Mark Smout, and Laura Allen (the latter two of the architectural design firm Smout Allen), LATBD uses materials, artifacts, books, and ephemera “hidden way deep in USC libraries” as the building blocks of this imaginative future Los Angeles. Manaugh, a Los Angeles-based writer and futurist, tells GOOD that the trio began by asking themselves the following question: “if all these things preserved in the archives represent what L.A. used to be—where L.A. came from and what used to be here—then could we also use those same objects to talk about where L.A. might be going next or what sort of city it could still become?”

“The question of the future is particularly interesting in Los Angeles, and it always has been,” says Manaugh. “Thinking about the future is part of the very narrative of L.A. For example, how the city will survive into the future at all, given its chronic lack of a reliable large-scale water supply and the inevitability of earthquakes, both large and small, isn’t just idle speculation here.”

The notion of future transformation explored in LATBD is helped along, as Manaugh muses, because L.A. is a city, culturally speaking, that seems built on the premise of “becoming something else.”

“People move to L.A. specifically to change something about their lives or even explicitly for the purpose of reinventing themselves as stars,” he says. “That’s one of the clichés of the city: that everyone here is playacting at being someone else, essentially road-testing alternative future versions of themselves.”

Manaugh sees this concept of “becoming something else” as sort of the mutant DNA of Los Angeles. He and the Smout Allen principals wondered what this notion might mean on an architectural and narrative level. “The name of the exhibition, obviously, is also a reflection of this,” says Manaugh. “It’s a Los Angeles that is always yet to be determined.”

Manaugh says he has admired the work of Smout and Allen for a decade, and the idea of working with them on this was just too good to pass up. Because their work has always been focused on unstable landscapes or shifting ground conditions where designing architecture is very challenging, and, despite the fact that they live in London, Manaugh felt they were the perfect fit for a Los Angeles-based project.

“The overall idea with this was not for them to create one architectural model that we could then sort of take out around the city to try to convince someone to build, as if we had some vision of the future that we want to sell to City Hall or to a developer,” he says. “Instead, the idea was to give architectural shape to many different potential scenarios that we came up with for how Los Angeles might change in the future.”

The resulting 3D models demonstrate such things as how L.A. neighborhoods might try to fortify themselves against future earthquakes. In LATBD, the trio proposed building huge underground pendulums that would act as seismic counterweights for the city, while at the same time imagining that this seismic energy could be turned into a potential source of renewable energy.

“To make a long story short, we wanted to literalize the idea of a game about the future of Los Angeles,” Manaugh says. “This meant that, in addition to the narrative themes that you can see in Smout Allen’s models, I also got to work with a local designer named David Mellen to produce actual game boards, featuring old archival photos from the USC collection laid out like a dice game.”

Manaugh says the point of it all was to play with the idea that the future of Los Angeles is subject to competing interests.

“Different people and different groups often want very different outcomes for the city,” he adds. “In other words, this means that L.A., even on a regular day, is already a game, a landscape fought over by different strategies and intentions, and we thought that a series of L.A.-themed game boards made specifically for the exhibition would be a nice way to communicate this idea.”"
losangeles  games  futurism  2015  future  davidmellen  latbd  geoffmanaugh  marksmout  lauraallen  smoutallen  gaming  boardgames  play 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Sweden's Minister of the Future Explains How to Make Politicians Think Long-Term | Motherboard
"Kristina Persson’s job is rather unique. Just over a year ago, Stefan Löfven, Sweden's current social democratic prime minister, decided the 70-year-old from Österstund would be the perfect figure to lead the country's new ministry of future issues, strategy and cooperation.

The idea behind the creation of such a ministry was a simple one: for Sweden to remain competitive tomorrow, it might, unfortunately, have to take unpopular steps today—and since politics and politicians, given elections and interests, tend to focus on the short-term, a watchdog for the long-term was needed.

It's easier said than done, as politics show us every day. Can you think of a politician willing to risk re-election for a better future they cannot benefit from? Most probably wouldn't. (Just look at American politicians' responses—or lack thereof—to climate change.) To understand a little more about how the new ministry works, how to plan the future, and why the Swedes always seems to be two steps in front of everybody else, I spoke with Persson.

Motherboard: Let’s start with the basics. What does long-term mean for you and your ministry?

Kristina Persson: Well, it really depends on the issue we are taking into consideration. It can be 5, 10 or even 50 years. Climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed with policies that looks at a 50 years or longer time spa\n, while the expansion of international cooperation is something we are working on with much shorter-term objectives.

Q: Can you tell us what are the areas you are focusing on?

A: The ministry is organized in three strategic groups. The first is concerned with the future of work, the second with the green transition and competitiveness, while the third one is what we call "global cooperation." Each strategic group brings together people with different backgrounds. Some come from the business community, others from civil society, trade unions, and academia. This variety is of the uttermost importance as the questions we are trying to address are complex, and finding solutions needs the cooperation of all of society’s stakeholders. No one [can be] excluded.

Q: Can you give us an example of your work?

A: Let’s take into consideration the "future of work" macro-area. There is no point trying to resist technological change and the expected automation of a great number of jobs in the coming years. Such an attitude would be shortsighted.

So the real question is not how we can try to delay the process. On the contrary, given the coming technological changes, how can we best prepare? And again, how can we guarantee that Sweden’s unemployment rate remains low and the level of social welfare the same as today? You see, these are not easy questions and if we want to find answers, we better start working now.

Q: Your ministry is a kind of odd one. You work across ministries rather than on your own agenda?

A: Yes, by its very nature the ministry of future issues overlaps with responsibilities of other ministries. For example, we work on issues that are the competence of the ministry of employment, the ministry of finance, as well as the foreign ministry. This makes our mission an extremely interesting one I believe. I think the best way to describe us is like a sort of internal government think tank whose role is to constantly remind others to include the long-term in the decision making process.

Q: That sounds quite complex, how is it to work with others?

A: It’s not always easy given the different perspectives of the different institutions involved. Yet ministries understand the importance of what we are doing and have always been quite cooperative.

We live in a world that is transforming at an unprecedented speed, a world that is constantly challenging and disrupting the old ways we are used to do things. Given the context, I believe that if politics wants to remain relevant and be useful to citizens, it needs to change its approach. It needs to experiment with new ways and new solutions. This is what we are doing at the ministry and it's quite ground breaking. A lot of colleagues from other countries have expressed interest in my work and I hope a similar institution will soon be developed in other parts of the world.

Q: I have a bit of a provocative question: Is there something undemocratic underlining your Ministry? Is it not as if you were saying that people only look at the short-term, and are unable to think long-term, so let’s create an unelected body to deal with that.

A: I can understand your point, but I disagree. If you think about it, most ministries have a top-down approach. By this I mean they decide on a specific policy and then, given they have a budget and political leverage, they have the power to implement it. This is a vertical approach, the opposite of the horizontal one we promote here at the ministry.

Rather than going top-down, we promote inter-ministerial collaboration and force decision makers to confront the long-term issues despite the fact this is harder to do sometimes. The product of our efforts are suggestions, never impositions, and I think this is very democratic. Also, whatever policy we might suggest has to be embraced other ministries in order to become a reality since we don’t have a budget and the political capital to push it through parliament.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you think that needs to be addressed other than climate change?

A: The demographic problem. Sweden, as well as the rest of Europe, has to cope with an increasingly ageing population. This raises questions about the present pension schemes and their sustainability. The issue is simple: who is going to pay for the pension benefits if in most European countries pensions will represent a higher percentage of GDP and fewer people will be part of the active labour force. We need to start thinking and acting now.

Q: When you are working, does anyone say something like "Oh my god, it's Kristina nagging about the long-term again"?

A: [Laughs] No, it has not happened yet."
kristinapersson  sweden  politics  policy  longterm  longnow  future  goodancestors  democracy  climatechange  aging  sustainability 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa: Post-Western Perspectives
"Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa: Post-Western Perspectives is a forum for pioneering technologists, curators and scholars from Accra, Nairobi, Cape Town, London and New York to discuss developments in digital design – robotics, gaming and computer imaging - on the African continent.

We tend to think about our world’s future as being discovered in the high-tech laboratories of American scientific research institutes, or debated in elite business and political forums held in the Alps - but less often in the West, do we think about our future as being designed by local tech communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In what is being called a transformative Digital Revolution, the African continent now hosts one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the world (the East African ‘Silicon Savannah’), a Pan-African robotics network (AFRON), burgeoning space programmes and a proliferation of digital innovation hubs.

The symposium analyses two major forces shaping the 21st century – innovations in digital technology and the ‘rise of Africa’ – through the lens of material culture and its interpretation. It also marks the official launch of an international network ‘Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa’ lead by Cher Potter, developed through a core partnership between London College of Fashion and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Some of the questions that will be examined are:

• What challenges and opportunities do a ‘digital revolution’ combined with unprecedented city and population growth on the African continent present for designers today?

• How is the combination of computer coding and digital fabrication resulting in new typologies of design in Sub-Saharan Africa?

• What composite communities are organising themselves around these new digital models?

• Are gaming environments based on local history and folklore heralding a wider move from European/US-centric worldviews to local ones?

• How might technology open up new ways for reading and categorising objects, both ancient and contemporary?

• How might we describe and test the term ‘postwestern’ in the context of design and curating?

Speakers:

Cher Potter
Cher Potter is V&A/LCF Senior Research Fellow. Her research interests include contemporary design on the African continent, and ‘post western’ models of curating and research. Prior to joining the V&A, she curated the 2013 European Impakt Arts Festival which explored ‘post western’ futures; and lead global cultural research at WGSN, the world’s largest design and fashion trends bureau, coordinating research into design tendencies across 22 countries including 8 African capitals. She was recognized as one of twelve ‘Future Visionaries’ by the 2013 Wellcome Trust Visioneers series.

Jonathan Ledgard
Jonathan Ledgard is Director of the Afrotech Initiative at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology, Lausanne, established to help pioneer advanced technologies in Africa. He is a leading thinker on risk, nature, and technology in near future Africa and spent the last decade as the Africa correspondent for The Economist, reporting extensively on Africa's mobile phone revolution. A founder of The Economist's Baobab blog, covering politics, economics and culture on the continent of Africa, he continues to contribute to the paper as well as to The New Yorker and other journals.

Ayorkor Korsah
Dr Ayorkor Korsah is Head of the Computer Science Department at Ashesi University College and Co-founder of the African Robotics Network, a community of institutions, organisations and individuals engaged in robotics in Africa. She is also a member of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and a TED Global Fellow. Her research interests include design at the intersection of algorithm design, artificial intelligence, and robotics; educating technologists for development in Africa; exploring the potential for participatory design in Africa; information, computing, and communications as keys to sustainable global development.

Kristina Van Dyke
Kristina Van Dyke is an independent scholar and curator. She was Director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis from 2011 to 2015 and Curator for Collections and Research at the Menil Collection in Houston from 2005 to 2011. She curated the exhibition ‘Kota: Digital Excavations in African Art’ currently on display at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, which examines nearly 50 Kota guardian figures using a new digital database created by Belgian computer engineer Frederic Cloth to study and reveal the hidden histories of Kota reliquaries.

Wesley Kirinya
Wesley Kirinya is one of the first games developers in Africa and founder of Leti Arts gaming studio in Nairobi and Accra. As such, he operates within one of the world’s fastest growing tech and design hubs, the East African ‘Silicon Savanah’. He is pioneering the use of local African history in digital gaming environments, and developing a toolbox of African superheroes based on characters from African mythology – heralding a potentially wider move from European/US-centric worldviews to local ones.

Paula Callus
Paula Callus is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Animation at Bournemouth University and is completing her PhD at SOAS on Digital Animation in Sub-Saharan Africa. As an advocate for the role of Sub-Saharan animators within the broader history of ‘moving’ image, she has delivered papers on ‘Reading Animation through the eyes of anthropology’ at the Animation Studies Symposium 2010; ‘Locating Sub-Saharan African Animation within the ‘moving’ image’ at the Film and Television Screen Studies Conference 2013; and curated the Africa in Motion animation programme in Edinburgh.

Mugendi M’Rithaa
Mugendi M’Rithaa is Professor of Industrial Design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) - the world organisation for Industrial Design. His research interests include Participatory Design which incorporates the needs of end-users/clients; Universal/Inclusive Design; Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability; and design's potential in promoting equity and quality of life in Africa and beyond. He has coordinated workshops on ‘Designing a Prosperous Nation’ (Gaborone, 2004), and ‘Designing for New Realities’ (Helsinki, 2012).

Elvira Ose
Elvira Ose is Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, and curator of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2015. She was Curator International Art at Tate Modern (2011 – 2014). At Tate, she took a leading role in developing Tate’s holdings of art from Africa and its Diaspora and working closely with the Africa Acquisitions Committee. She was responsible for Across the Board (2012–2014), a two-year interdisciplinary project that took place in London, Accra, Douala and Lagos. She recently co-curated Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist (2013).

Chairs:

David Pratten
Dr David Pratten is a Professor at the University of Oxford, specialising in the Social Anthropology of Africa. He was Director of the African Studies Centre from 2009-2013, one of the world’s leading centres for African Studies. His research interests include West African issues of youth, democracy and disorder; contemporary models of sociality, and colonial history. He is Co-Editor of ‘AFRICA: Journal of the International African Institute’ Cambridge University Press, which is the premier journal devoted to the study of African societies and culture.

Bill Sherman
Professor Bill Sherman is Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of York. He has published widely on the history of books and readers, the interface of word and image, and the relationship between knowledge and power. At the V&A, he is leading the development of the V&A Research Institute (VARI), which is testing new models for collaborative research that draws on history, theory and practice, and new ways of using collections to bring together the museum, the university and the creative industries.

Jane Harris
Dr Jane Harris is Associate Dean of Research at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London and Professor of Digital Design and Innovation. An advocate for the role that creative and transdisciplinary research in HE can play in the development and advance of design, science and industry, her own practice navigates physical material and technology interfaces. A recipient of the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts Fellowship (NESTA) her pioneering CGI work has been internationally exhibited and publications include the co-authored book Digital Visions for Fashion+Textiles: Made In Code. "
designfuturism  speculativedesign  adrica  via:anne  designfiction  africa  2015  cherpotter  jonathanledgard  ayorkorkorash  kristinavandyke  wesleykirinya  paulacallus  mugendim'rithaa  elviraose  davidpratten  billsherman  janeharris  future  speculativefiction  design  robotics  gaming  comuterimaging  digital 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Why I Quit Ordering From Uber-for-Food Start-Ups - The Atlantic
[This is Josephine: https://josephine.com/ ]

"I work some days from a small office in San Francisco, and every day, I gotta eat. For a stretch of several weeks this year, I obtained my lunch from an iPhone app called Sprig.

It’s a beautiful piece of software. A trompe l’oeil table offers a compact slate of choices for lunch and dinner, all photographed beautifully from above. On the day I’m writing this, I can get a Caesar salad ($11), blackened chicken with broccoli ($11), a lamb-kofta wrap ($11), a tequila-lime shrimp salad ($13), or a kimchi veggie bowl ($10). Everything is organic, with sources all specified. The chicken comes from Petaluma.

* * *

I work some days from my apartment in Berkeley, and every day, I gotta eat. Two or three times a month, I obtain lunch or dinner from a network called Josephine.

The first time I encountered Josephine, its website was a bare page that instructed you to enter your phone number and “join our SMS list.” The design is only slightly more elaborate today; there’s still no iPhone app.

Josephine doesn’t prepare any meals itself. Instead, it screens home cooks and takes orders on their behalf. On the day I’m writing this, I can get carrot soup ($11) from Lisa in Oakland or pho ($13) from Hai in Emeryville. That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow, there’s chicken and dumplings ($11) from Suzie in Albany or veggie enchiladas ($8) from Afiba in Fruitvale. The menu extends out two weeks; Josephine is less “I’m hungry now” and more “I expect to be hungry on Thursday, so I’d better line something up.” The photography is rough-and-ready, Etsy-caliber, and the dishes are described by the cooks themselves.

* * *

Sprig sells on speed: From selection to delivery, it’s twenty minutes. The experience is identical to an order from Seamless or GrubHub. A harried courier extracts your meal from a fat insulated bag; you say “thank you,” close the door, and feel bad for a moment about the differences between your lives. Five stars.

Meals from Sprig arrive reliably deflated from their in-app depictions: soggier, less composed. The quality of the food ranges, in my experience, from “sure, I can eat this” to very good indeed. It’s approximately equivalent to what you’d get in a nice cafeteria; better than Kaiser Permanente’s, not as good as Facebook’s.

“Gotta eat” is a rumble in the belly, a business opportunity, and a public-health crisis all rolled into one, and to address it, Sprig is building the biggest, nicest cafeteria ever. The ambition is clear: Sprig in every city, with longer menus, better ingredients, faster delivery. I can see them: the drones dropping lamb kofta from the sky.

But there’s more to any cafeteria than the serving line, and Sprig’s app offers no photograph of that other part. This is the Amazon move: absolute obfuscation of labor and logistics behind a friendly buy button. The experience for a Sprig customer is super convenient, almost magical; the experience for a chef or courier…? We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We’re just here to press the button.

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?

* * *

Meals from Josephine are not available for delivery.

On the day of your order, a text message arrives bearing a street address. You ride over on your bicycle and spot a Josephine sign taped to the front door, which is ajar. You step inside; the feeling is both clandestine and transgressive. In the kitchen, the cook—your neighbor—is working. Maybe another customer—also your neighbor—is lingering. You announce yourself, say hello, receive your meal. Chat a bit, if you like. Carry it home in a bag dangling from your handlebars.

It definitely takes more than twenty minutes.

But I will tell you that my Josephine pickups have been utterly reliable generators of smiles and warm feelings. I look forward to them, not just because “gotta eat,” but because they unlock my neighborhood, fill in the blank spaces on my mental map. And of course, it’s always fun to see the insides of other people’s houses.

The seriousness of Josephine’s cooks ranges widely. Some are clearly demi-professionals, as polished and efficient as Airbnb hosts; others seem surprised to have people in their kitchen. Some offer fat slices of cornbread as impulse buys; others seem happy to have finished their soup in time.

What unites them is this: They are your neighbors; they have cooked a dish of their own design; they have invited you into their home.

I flaked on a Josephine meal once, and as the pick-up window was closing, my phone rang. It was the cook. “I can leave it out for you,” she offered. I demurred. “Oh, okay,” she said. Her voice betrayed her disappointment. I felt bad all night.

* * *

Sprig started in 2013. Its four founders have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $50 million so far. (It is safe to assume the words "Uber for food" were uttered along the way.) Currently, you can order in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Chicago—the last of which is clearly the test case for national expansion. The Sprig careers page advertises openings in Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, and Austin.

Josephine started in 2014. Its two founders also have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $600,000 so far. Mark Bittman recently joined its board of directors. Josephine’s home cooks are mainly scattered around Oakland and Berkeley. In October, the company listed its first batch of meals for San Francisco; on the day I’m writing, there are three home cooks in the city.

If Sprig projects an Amazon-like relentlessness, Josephine feels tenuous; some days, it seems almost too good for this world, too “eat your vegetables,” literally and figuratively. It’s convenient, but not THAT convenient. When it needs more cooks, it can’t simply hire them. Its viability in neighborhoods beyond the Bay Area will depend on instruments subtler than a war chest and an expansion playbook.

* * *

We are alive at a time when huge systems—industrial, infrastructural—are being remade, and I think it’s our responsibility as we make choices both commercial and civic—it’s just a light responsibility, don’t stress—to extrapolate forward, and ask ourselves: Is this a system I want to live inside? Is this a system fit for humans?

It’s like this:

Sprig-type operations drain agency and expertise out of the world. They centralize, aiming to build huge hubs with small spokes; their innermost mechanisms are hidden. They depend on humans behaving as interchangeable units of labor.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Sprig, no one cooks who is not employed by this kind of company.

Josephine cultivates agency and expertise. It decentralizes, aims to build a dense mesh, neighborhood-scale; its mechanisms are public. It depends on humans developing their specific, idiosyncratic tastes and skills.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Josephine, many people don’t cook, but some people cook a lot more, and better, than ever before, and all of us, cooks and non-cooks, derive pleasure from that. We meet on the sidewalk carrying warm veggie enchiladas.

What kills me is the plausibility of the Josephine future. This isn’t some utopian vision; there’s a scale model working in the East Bay today. Neighborhoods everywhere are full of cooks, or would-be cooks; the talent and the desire is thick on the ground.

Josephine employs the most basic tools of telecommunications to make a market and match “gotta eat” with “wanna cook.” This could be the system! The rumble in the belly, the business opportunity, the public-health crisis: The answer to all of it might be waiting next door.

We make these choices, bit by bit. I stopped ordering from Sprig back in the spring, because (a) I don’t like that future and (b) they sent me a truly sub-par chicken sandwich.

Every couple of weeks, or whenever I think of it, I check Josephine for something nearby. The food is always good, at least friend-cooking-dinner good and often better, but honestly, the future is what sells it."
robinsloan  systems  systemsthinking  2015  amazon  sprig  uber  efficiency  josephine  markbittman  decentralization  civics  society  neighborhoods  community  humanity  future  food  cooking  eating  slow  slowness  relentlessness  neighbors  neighborliness  dystopia  technosolutionism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Reading Right-to-Left | booktwo.org
"At a conference I attended recently, one of the speakers noted how the US army trains observers to “read” a landscape from right to left. The idea is that, as Anglophones accustomed to reading left to right, reversing the direction of attention brings more concentration to bear on the situation. Moving from right to left disrupts the soldier’s instinctual recognition patterns, and so they are more likely to spot things. This skill has apparently migrated from soldiers to photographers:
“One of the first tricks I learned many years ago had nothing to do with photography, but was drilled into me by an army sergeant. It only took a few smacks up the back of my head to learn how to look from right-to-left when scanning a landscape in an effort to see the hidden “enemy” in our mock battles. This process of reverse reading forced me to slow down and read each tree as if it were a syllable I was seeing for the first time. Even today, about thirty years after I called that sergeant every adjective not found in a decent dictionary, I still find myself scanning a landscape from right-to-left.”

The conference speaker contrasted this way of seeing, and the assumptions explicit within it, with the Japanese way of reading, which may be right-to-left, or vertical:

[image]

One might also, in the context of today’s military operations consider the right-to-leftness of Hebrew and Arabic script (and Farsi, and Urdu) – and from there consider the verticality and three-dimensionality of text and thought online, the way it branches and deepens, how it recedes through the screen, through hyperlinks, into an endless chain of connections and relationships.

This reversal and inversion of language patterns has many historical and thus military uses. In Reality is Plenty, Kevin Slavin relates a tale told to him by a photography professor, who was trained as a World War II radar operator.

When radar signals were received aboard an aircraft carrier, they were displayed on a radar oscilloscope. But in order for this information be used in the midst of battle, the positions needed to be transcribed to a large glass viewing pane, and as part of this process they needed to be inverted and reversed. To perform this operation quickly and accurately, the radar operators were trained and drilled extensively in “upside down and backwards town”, a classified location where everything from newspapers to street signs were printed upside down and backwards. This experience would not so much create a new ability for the radar operators, as break down their existing biases towards left-to-right text, allowing them to operate in multiple dimensions at once.

[image]

This process, in Kevin’s reading and in mine, is akin to much of our experience of new technology, when our existing frameworks of reference, both literary and otherwise, are broken down, and we must learn over once again how to operate in the world, how to transform and transliterate information, how to absorb it, think it, search for it and deploy it. We must relearn our relationship not only with information, but with knowledge itself.

And I was reminded of this once again when I found myself at the weekend defending, for the first time in a long time, but certainly not for the first time ever, the kind of thinking and knowledge production which is native to the internet. In this oft-rehearsed argument, whether it be about ebooks or social media or news cycles or or or, the central thrust is that x technology is somehow bad for us, for our thought, our attention, our cognitive processes etc., where x always tends towards “the internet”, as the ur-technology of our time.

And the truth is that I cannot abide this kind of talk. I know people don’t read books like they used to, and they don’t think like they used to, but I struggle to care. Most of this talk is pure nostalgia, a kind of mostly knee-jerk, mostly uncritical (although not thoughtless) response to entirely rational fears about technological opacity and complexity (this nostalgia, of course, was the basis for the New Aesthetic). But this understandable reaction also erases all the new and different modes of attention and thought which, while they are difficult to articulate because we are still developing and discovering the language to articulate them with, are nonetheless present and growing within us. And I simply do not see the damage that is ascribed to this perceived “loss” – I don’t see the generations coming up being any less engaged in culture and society, reading less, thinking less, acting less, even when they are by any measure poorer, less supported, forced to struggle harder for education and employment, and, to compound the injury, derided at every opportunity as feckless, distracted, and disengaged. I see the opposite.

I’m getting more radical in my view of the internet, this unconsciously-generated machine for unconscious generation. I’m feeling more sure of its cultural value and legacy, and more assertive about stating it. We built this thing, and like all directed culture of the past, it has an agency and a desire, and if you pay attention to it you can see which way it wants to go, and what it wants to fight. We made that, all of us, in time, but we don’t have full control of it. Rather, like the grain of wood, it’s something to be worked with and shaped, but also thought about and conceptualised, both matter and metaphor.

It’s possible, despite the faults of data and design, to be an unchurched follower of the internet: undogmatic, non-sectarian, wary of its faults, all too conscious of its occupation by the forces of capital and control, but retaining a deep faith in its message and meaning. A meaning which it is still up to us to explore and enact, to defend where possible and oppose when necessary. If there is progress, if things can be improved, then they must be improved by new inventions, by the things we have not tried before. No going backwards to the future."
culture  knowledge  internet  japanese  arabic  howweread  understanding  noticing  books  reading  meadia  online  socialmedia  newaesthetic  future  bookfuturism  control  change  data  design  technology  criticalthinking  kevinslavin  observation  seeing  howwesee  waysofseeing  perspective  rewiring  attention  knowledgeproduction  society  difference  cv  canon 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry on Climate Change: To Save the Future, Live in the Present by Wendell Berry — YES! Magazine
"What we must not do in our efforts of provision is to waste or permanently destroy anything of value. History informs us that the things we waste or destroy today may be needed on the morrow. This obviously prohibits the “creative destruction” of the industrialists and industrial economists, who think that evil is permissible today for the sake of greater good tomorrow. There is no rational argument for compromise with soil erosion or toxic pollution.

For me—and most people are like me in this respect—“climate change” is an issue of faith; I must either trust or distrust the scientific experts who predict the future of the climate. I know from my experience, from the memories of my elders, from certain features of my home landscape, from reading history, that over the last 150 years or so the weather has changed and is changing. I know without doubt that to change is the nature of weather.

Just so, I know from as many reasons that the alleged causes of climate change—waste and pollution—are wrong. The right thing to do today, as always, is to stop, or start stopping, our habit of wasting and poisoning the good and beautiful things of the world, which once were called “divine gifts” and now are called “natural resources.” I always suppose that experts may be wrong. But even if they are wrong about the alleged human causes of climate change, we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by trusting them.

Even so, we are not dummies, and we can see that for all of us to stop, or start stopping, our waste and destruction today would be difficult. And so we chase our thoughts off into the morrow where we can resign ourselves to “the end of life as we know it” and come to rest, or start devising heroic methods and technologies for coping with a changed climate. The technologies will help, if not us, then the corporations that will sell them to us at a profit.

I have let the preceding paragraph rest for two days to see if I think it is fair. I think it is fair. As evidence, I will mention only that, while the theme of climate change grows ever more famous and fearful, land abuse is growing worse, noticed by almost nobody."



"It is true that changes in governmental policy, if the changes were made according to the right principles, would have to be rated as big solutions. Such big solutions surely would help, and a number of times I have tramped the streets to promote them, but just as surely they would fail if not accompanied by small solutions. And here we come to the reassuring difference between changes in policy and changes in principle. The needed policy changes, though addressed to present evils, wait upon the future, and so are presently nonexistent. But changes in principle can be made now, by so few as just one of us. Changes in principle, carried into practice, are necessarily small changes made at home by one of us or a few of us. Innumerable small solutions emerge as the changed principles are adapted to unique lives in unique small places. Such small solutions do not wait upon the future. Insofar as they are possible now, exist now, are actual and exemplary now, they give hope. Hope, I concede, is for the future. Our nature seems to require us to hope that our life and the world’s life will continue into the future. Even so, the future offers no validation of this hope. That validation is to be found only in the knowledge, the history, the good work, and the good examples that are now at hand.

There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise, although we seem less and less inclined to attend to or value what is at hand. We are always ready to set aside our present life, even our present happiness, to peruse the menu of future exterminations. If the future is threatened by the present, which it undoubtedly is, then the present is more threatened, and often is annihilated, by the future. “Oh, oh, oh,” cry the funerary experts, looking ahead through their black veils. “Life as we know it soon will end. If the governments don’t stop us, we’re going to destroy the world. The time is coming when we will have to do something to save the world. The time is coming when it will be too late to save the world. Oh, oh, oh.” If that is the way our minds are afflicted, we and our world are dead already. The present is going by and we are not in it. Maybe when the present is past, we will enjoy sitting in dark rooms and looking at pictures of it, even as the present keeps arriving in our absence.

Or maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea. The government could enforce such a saving by rationing fuels, citing the many good reasons, as it did during World War II. If the government should do something so sensible, I would respect it much more than I do. But to wish for good sense from the government only displaces good sense into the future, where it is of no use to anybody and is soon overcome by prophesies of doom. On the contrary, so few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves, and to others who need us to be present. Because of such rewards, a large problem may be effectively addressed by the many small solutions that, after all, are necessary, no matter what the government might do. The government might even do the right thing at last by imitating the people."
slow  small  present  now  frugality  via:steelemaley  wendellberry  2015  climatechange  future  policy  government  nature  farming  environment  sustainability  goodness  futurism  predictions  provisions  landscape  history  past  humanity  christianity 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Other Refugee Crisis - The New York Times
"Dadaab may be the world’s largest, but there are many other examples of these temporary-but-permanent cities. In Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan, the camps founded in 1979 for Afghan refugees are now a string of 79 permanent slums run by the United Nations and home to nearly a million people. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur have been living in a collection of 12 camps across the border in Chad since 2004, with no end in sight. Similar numbers and situations exist in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Thailand, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, where people are living, and reproducing, in limbo. The numbers are growing not only because of a world in turmoil, but also because whole generations are growing up in camps.

Gaza is perhaps the best example of this. The eight original refugee camps have morphed into towns that, together, are now one of the most densely populated areas in the world, home to 1.7 million people. Separate from the U.N.H.C.R. and with a different mandate, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was founded in 1949 for around 750,000 Arab Palestinians forced to flee their homes in 1948. But with no peace deal or return in sight, the agency looks after their five million descendants at a cost to the international community of over $1 billion a year. The agency was supposed to be an exception, but Gaza now looks like the rule. In Dadaab, the United Nations resettles around 2,000 refugees annually to Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. But the birthrate in the camp of 1,000 a month will always outstrip that effort.

As refugee populations spiral higher, host nations usually move toward ever stricter encampment policies. Kenya is one of the strictest; last year the police rounded up thousands of refugees found outside designated camps and incarcerated them in the national stadium. Pakistan has threatened several times not to renew refugee status for Afghan refugees, and periodically attempts to force people back to Afghanistan. In Jordan, refugees have the right to move and work in theory, but authorities have reportedly issued no new work permits since 2014 and have begun coercive administrative measures to keep them in the camps.

To leave Dadaab, residents require a “movement pass,” just like under apartheid. Acquiring one usually involves a bribe. Thus, members of the third generation that is now beginning life in Dadaab may well spend their whole life in the camp. If they win one of the fiercely contested slots at secondary school, they could gain diplomas and degrees online or through the mail, but when there’s no viable path to a free future elsewhere, education in the closed camp is a cruel trick: There are no jobs except volunteer positions with the aid agencies that run the hospitals, schools and social programs, and these pay a fraction of what Kenyan staff members receive for doing the same job.

One might expect that in such circumstances, talent would curdle into bitterness, but the most striking thing about Dadaab is that the miserable conditions do not seem to have engendered radicalization. People are frustrated, but until now, the isolation of the camp and the United Nations mantras on rights and gender balance have fostered a subdued but tolerant society in which women are more emancipated than their sisters back in Somalia.

This is the ultimate contradiction of camp life: how to locate hope for the future in a desperate situation that appears permanent. People are trying. Life in Dadaab and all the other camps is a daily exercise in manufacturing hope. But for many, the fiction of temporariness no longer holds. And we are seeing the results of that realization washing up on Europe’s beaches.

Separate enclaves are beginning to appear in the rich world, too: slums such as “the Jungle” in Calais, where refugees and migrants wait to try to enter Britain illegally, or the detention centers that are now common in Europe, Australia and the United States where people must wait sometimes for years while their status is determined. In a world centered on nation-states, the full range of human rights is increasingly unavailable to those without citizenship. A whole gray population of second-class citizens has emerged, and their numbers are growing.

The proper and legal response should be to allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement within their host nations and all the rights accorded to other citizens, including the right to travel abroad and seek work legally. But the tide of public opinion in most countries is moving in the opposite direction.

Of course rich nations should take more. But even if Europe and the United States stepped up and admitted much larger numbers than the paltry offers that have been suggested in recent weeks, it would still make only a small dent in the global refugee population.

Until our current wars die down, the world needs to adjust to the new reality of permanent refugee cities in legal limbo. Even if host nations wish to deny citizenship to long-staying refugees, it would make sense to allow the United Nations and refugees themselves to invest in infrastructure to reduce disease, provide employment and make these ramshackle slums more habitable. They could perhaps become autonomous open cities or international zones where those with United Nations documents were permitted to move and trade within the normal international visa regime. If camps were economically viable they might at least offer some pull to remain there. As one man told me as I was nearing the end of my time in Dadaab: “I belong nowhere. My country is the Republic of Refugee.”"
dabaad  kenya  somalia  citizenship  refugees  limbo  2015  geopolitics  impermanence  permanence  hope  hopelessness  calais  afghanistan  benrawlence  pakistan  darfur  un  unitednations  africa  unhcr  migration  palestine  refugeecamps  future  futures 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Livraison vingt-quatre : PK, pagers, iPod Touch et feature phones + Lee Scratch Perry
"2. Pagers, iPod Touch et feature phones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comme il l'exprime ici, cette prise en compte de la diversité des pratiques peut stimuler la rechercher de voies originales. Dans le cas des mobiles, c'est la raison pour laquelle on voit toujours des produits pertinents basés sur des pagers aujourd'hui (c'est d'ailleurs le cas par exemple avec de la géolocalisation indoor) ou des téléphones servant uniquement à téléphoner... avec des propositions loin d'être inesthétiques, absurdes ou curieuses."
nicolasnova  davidedgerton  technology  time  chronology  nicfoster  designfiction  future  futures  mobilephones  cv  fieldnotes  diversity  tools  mobile  phones  smartphones  complexity  design  novelty  earlyadopters  lateadopters  difference  ipodtouch  innovation 
october 2015 by robertogreco
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