Bookmarked The Inhumanities; Or, the war on the humanities & why our humanity is at stake

IS IT A COINCIDENCE that at a time of protest around the world—a cry for systemic reform, an outcry against the failures of imagination and the decimation of the spirit, against the smallness of mind and meanness of heart, against the exploitation of the earth and of each other, upon which the colonial project and global commerce have depended—is it a coincidence that at just this time the Australian government, a more reactionary and ideologically driven regime than any we have known, has decided to dismantle the humanities?

Mark Tredinnick responds the challenge being made to the traditional liberal arts education in Australia.

The humanities teach us how to think. How to Be. And how to do it for oneself. They teach one how to write and speak. For oneself, on behalf of interests greater than one’s own. They school us in ethics, in care, in imagination. They ask us to ask ourselves to do better with our living. And how to ask for better. For instance, from those in power. The humanities help us to know what, beside profit and security, counts. For any and every human life.

He argues that rather than job-focused degrees we need to be people-focused.

We don’t need job-focused degrees (heavy on data and light on wisdom). What we need more than ever is students who learn how to live and who know how to help others live meaningful and meaning-making lives. We need minds capable of apprehending merit and beauty and of fashioning justice and joy; we need hearts that know how to care for the wreck of the world and the wreck of other lives that the prevailing economic and political models have made; we need minds skilled at the craft of conserving what’s left, and keeping it habitable for human—and all sorts of other beings.

We in fact need the humanities as an anti-thesis of being too economically focused.

We need music because we have factories; we need poetry because we have politics; we need the humanities because we have economies, and because there is always the risk that one might enter dangerous times like this, and governments like this.

Bookmarked Saying Goodbye to 'Law & Order' by an author

Despite current outcries to demilitarize, defund, or altogether abolish the police after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, according to one recent poll, more than half of Americans still don’t see police violence as a “very serious problem.” If stories play a role in shaping public opinion, the legacy of American cop narratives has mostly functioned as escapist storytelling for white comfort at the expense of black experience: Crimes are solved in an hour and the good guys tend to win, when in reality fewer than half of reported violent and property crimes are solved. These shows can’t faithfully address systemic racism and the reality of police violence any more than white-savior narratives can faithfully reflect black achievement.

One of the challenges with reimagining the police is telling stories that helps portray a new imaginary.
Replied to

Thank you Ben for the podcast recommendation about online learning. Not sure exactly what a ‘Type 2’ Ben Collins course would look like. Maybe it is about bringing your own problem or something. Look forward to what you come up with.

You might be interested in Jon Dron and Terry Anderson’s book Teaching Crowds. I discussed it here.

Listened Will Mannon: Running an Online Course by an author

SHOW NOTES:

1:50- David and Will’s focus on customer happiness. Type one and type two online courses. What online educators can learn from the Navy Seals.

13:45- How fear is a part of transformational experiences. What held Will back from starting writing. What music can teach us about great writing.

19:27- Why we fear achieving our vision. Write of Passage guilt. How Write of Passage prioritizes helping people make friends.

27:23- Striking the balance between creating community and letting it grow naturally. How interest groups allow students to create their own communities. The structure of Will’s job as course manager.

35:58- Forte Lab’s yearly planning process. The three phases of Will’s course management. How Will and David are thinking about data collection.

49:14- How Will and David met. How Will’s course feedback led to working with David. Why classical education theory doesn’t really apply to online education.

59:11- Why Will and David create “type 2” courses. Why David learns from his students. How Write of Passages integrates feedback.

1:07:20- What feedback David listens to. The future of Write of Passage. Why David tries to solve very specific problems using software.

1:12:10- How the Internet makes attention a commodity. Why WOP can thrive with zero cold traffic marketing. How the Internet will help make creators money in the future.

This was a really interesting conversation, especially in regards to Type 1 and Type 2 styles of learning. I was particularly intrigued by the discussion of online pedagogy and how this differs from a professor who has studied education for thirty years. I agree that context is important and that online learning is different to the classroom, however I am sceptical of ignoring someone else’s knowledge and experience.
Bookmarked How to break up Google

It’s easy to say “Break up Big Tech companies!” Depending how politics unfold, the thing might become possible, but figuring out the details will be hard. I spent the last sixteen years of my life working for Big Tech and have educated opinions on the subject. Today: Why and how we should break up Google.

Tim Bray wonders about splitting Google up into different companies, such as ads, maps and cloud computing.

via Cory Doctorow

Listened Grizzly Bear’s unravelling songs

As founding member for Grizzly Bear, Ed Droste has shaped the sound of modern indie music. Across five albums, the American band have layered intricate and nuanced guitar music with choirboy vocals and a lot of heart. Their breakthrough album was Yellow House, but since then they’ve held fans enraptured and toured Australia multiple times over the years. Their latest album is Painted Ruins, a record that came after a five year break from the band. With Grizzly Bear’s layered music in mind, I gave Ed the theme “songs that unravel.” The mid 90’s reigned supreme as the meat in this sandwich, but he really did go all over the place and spoke about the songs he loved as well as the time we’re living in, as music fans. From album vs playlist culture, to the risks we take in music, this is a wonderful conversation not only diving into his own collection but his deepest thoughts on the state of the industry.

I really enjoy going back and listening to older episodes that I missed. A couple of things that stood out in this interview with Ed Droste was the listening process and the ‘playlist generation’. He reflects on growing up with records and how the form forces you to listen to each track, rather than skipping. For Droste, it usually takes five listens to form a judgment. This expereince reminds me of Jim Groom’s Vinylcasts.

The other point of interest in the podcast was Droste’s discussion of songs and the way they can change over time, evolving with their live performance. Sometimes the live performance forces you to re-listen to the recorded version.

There are also times when you can return to an older song with fresh energy.

Replied to Wellbeing When You Gotta Be Online

So, obviously, one of the most important thing to maintain wellbeing is to actually get offline a bit!!! But for highly social extroverts like myself and my kid, you need to also socialize w folks, and now that’s mainly going to be online… and you also honestly need to figure out ways to make work stuff work for you when you can… because a good online work meeting can help with wellbeing too. It makes all the difference.

So here are my tips for managing wellbeing when you’ve gotta be online

This is a really useful list Maha, thank you for sharing. I guess care for each other is what matters.
Liked On the Exceptionalism of Books in an Age of Tweets

As I elaborated in my podcast, the medium through which you mediate the world matters. An app on your phone can offer you diversion or fleeting catharsis. On the other hand, something more lexicographically substantial  — though perhaps, as Birkert’s students discovered, more difficult to consume — can often offer true progress.

Liked All I Can Say Is We Need to Give More Hope to the Young People

We have to get to work fixing our broken foundation, and making sure future generation won’t have to deal with all of our baggage around race, gender, and the environment. Allowing musicians like Shannon to make music without slowly killing themselves, and providing opportunities around fashion or cooking for people like the kid, giving our children the opportunity find themselves while centering their lives around something they love to do.

Replied to a post by Colin WalkerColin Walker

A weekend of plumbing jobs: fixing a leak on the inlet pipe to the toilet (this included replacing the fill valve) and replacing the bath taps.
I’ve been putting off doing the bath taps as I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. I was considering getting a plumber but gave in and tried it myself. I d…

Me too Colin. Biggest issue I had with my taps was having the right tools to fix the problem, as well as knowing that I really did need to put that much strength into loosening it. (I really did think I was going to break it.)
Responses to the initial questions associated with Cyber Security & Awareness – Primary Years (2020) Cyber Security & Awareness (CSER MOOC)

At this point in your professional learning, why do you think students should learn about Cyber Security?

It feels like a lot of time is spent discussing how technology works to achieve creative, constructive and cognitive outcomes. The issue with this approach is that it can overlook the critical implications of such decisions. For example, look at the recent discovery in regards to TikTok about having access to clipboard. I take this framing from Doug Belshaw’s work on The Eight Essential Elements of Digital Literacies.

If you were to teach a lesson or unit about Cyber Security to your students, what topics and/or activities do you think would be important to cover?

If I were to teach a unit, I would focus on the difference between privacy and security. I would also focus on finding the everyday implications, such as passwords, cookies and data.

If you have previously taught about Cyber Security, is there anything you would like to share about topics and/or activities you have covered or any resources and tools you used? We would love to consider these for an update.

I used the Digital Licenses in the past when it focused on Year 6. However, the problem I had with this is that although students got the right answer, they did not necessarily translate into understandings that were picked up elsewhere in their learning.

RSVPed Interested in Attending New MOOCS on Teaching Cyber Security and Awareness

This course is designed to:
Build your confidence and capability in delivering cyber security education in the classroom as part of the Foundation to Year 6 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and ICT Capabilities.
Increase your awareness of and access to high-quality cyber security education resources that you can use in the primary classroom.
Deepen your understanding of the challenges and risks of digital technologies and how to teach students about proactive behaviours in using technologies safely and securely.
Inspire awareness of jobs in cyber security, with a range of fascinating roles and real-world applications.
Although this course references the Australian Curriculum, anyone in the world is welcome to participate! Participants who complete the course receive a Certificate of Completion.

I am glad that the conversation seems to be moving away from what we can do with technology to a wider discussion of what we should do.
Bookmarked Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper (nature.com)

The Pulitzer prizewinner shares his advice for pleasing readers, editors and yourself.

Cormac McCarthy’s words of wisdom, as told by Van Savage and Pamela Yeh:

  • Use minimalism to achieve clarity.
  • Decide on your paper’s theme and two or three points you want every reader to remember.
  • Limit each paragraph to a single message.
  • Keep sentences short, simply constructed and direct.
  • Don’t slow the reader down.
  • Don’t over-elaborate.
  • And don’t worry too much about readers who want to find a way to argue about every tangential point and list all possible qualifications for every statement. Just enjoy writing.
  • With regard to grammar, spoken language and common sense are generally better guides for a first draft than rule books.
  • Commas denote a pause in speaking.
  • Dashes should emphasize the clauses you consider most important — without using bold or italics — and not only for defining terms.
  • Inject questions and less-formal language to break up tone and maintain a friendly feeling.
  • Choose concrete language and examples.
  • Avoid placing equations in the middle of sentences.
  • When you think you’re done, read your work aloud to yourself or a friend.
  • After all this, send your work to the journal editors.
  • Finally, try to write the best version of your paper: the one that you like.
Replied to Waving the Asynchronous Flag (CogDogBlog)

Do people think of asynchronous as adrift, alone in space? There’s every reason to feel a sense of conversation in a place of being in different times there, exchange, that can be every bit as engaging as being there exactly together.

Alan, this reminds me of Dave White’s discussion of lectures and the need to create moments of shared presence to facilitate new connections. We worry so much about the presentation of information and forget about learning opportunities. The problem is that for some this is not the work that matters, however I would argue that it is the work that often makes the biggest difference.
Liked Tech companies caring about Black Lives Matter is too little, too late (Fast Company)

What is happening is an example of what is sometimes called “performative wokeness.” These companies issuing a statement that they “stand with the Black community” is the absolute least they can do. It would be better to remain silent rather than reveal their rank hypocrisy. Many of these companies generate profit either by exploiting Black labor and/or by amplifying hate and extremism that directly harms Black folks. If Amazon truly felt that Black lives matter, its executives would change the way they treat their workforce, stop selling their facial recognition software Rekognition, and dismantle their Ring Doorbell and Neighbors programs. If Facebook truly stood with the Black community, it would eliminate the widespread organizing of white supremacy on its platform. But it’s unlikely that those changes will happen anytime soon.

Liked ‘All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace’: Care and the Cybernetic University (Hack Education)

I don’t mean here that we should refuse online education, to be clear. I would rather faculty and students and staff be online than dead. I care. But what I do mean is that we need to resist this impulse to have the machines dictate what we do, the shape and place of how we teach and trust and love. We need to do a better job caring for one another — emotionally, sure, but also politically. We need to recognize how disproportionate affective labor already is in our institutions, how disproportionate that work will be in the future. We need to agitate for space and compensation for it, not outsource care to analytics, AI, and surveillance.

We must refuse to be watched over, to have students and staff watched over by machines of purported loving grace. We must put our bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels and make the machines stop.

Bookmarked Revenge of the Suburbs (The Atlantic)

There was always comfort to be found in a big house on a plot of land that’s your own. The relief is even more soothing with a pandemic bearing down on you. And as the novel coronavirus graduates from acute terror to long-term malaise, urbanites are trapped in small apartments with little or no outdoor space, reliant on mass transit that now seems less like a public service and more like a rolling petri dish. Meanwhile, suburbanites have protected their families amid the solace of sprawling homes on large, private plots, separated from the neighbors, and reachable only by the safety of private cars. Sheltered from the virus in their many bedrooms, they sleep soundly, dreaming the American dream with new confidence.

Ian Bogost explains how the supposed defects of the suburban sprawl and rejection of mixed-use planning has all of the sudden become a positive.

The existing suburban McMansion might find a new life in the aftermath of the pandemic too. Although critics have deemed these homes aesthetically ghastly, inefficient, and extravagant, many families want the additional space of a suburban monstrosity to accommodate extended family, such as parents or grandparents. Multigenerational living might become even more common as the coronavirus threat and its economic consequences wear on. Colleges are still sorting out whether and how students will return to campus in the fall, and beyond. And recent graduates unable to find jobs, or unwilling to move to them, might return home for indeterminate periods of time. The exurban castle offers lots of space at an affordable price, thanks to its distance from the city.