📰 Read Write Respond #078

Welcome back to another month. I feel like it has had a bit of everything, catching up with family visiting from interstate, eldest daughter managing to go on her first school camp in three years, as well as being being thrust into health and safety protocols.

On the Work front, I feel like I have spent much of my time trying to get to the bottom of a range of new defects that have come with a recent upgrade. I am always intrigued how aspects of the application that have not been fixed or improved are impacted.

Personally, I binged quite a bit this month, including The 100, Stranger Things, Birdman, Moon Knight and The Gray Man. I also listened to Tom Tilley’s memoir Speaking in Tongues. In regards to music, I enjoyed listening to Sam Prekop and John McEntire’s modular album Sons Of.

Here then are some of the posts that have had me thinking:

Self-Assessing Creative Problem Solving

Wouter Groeneveld discusses his development of the Creative Programming Problem Solving Test (CPPST), a self-assessment test for programmers that measures more than just divergent thinking.

If You’re Not Paying for the Product, You Are… Possibly Just Consuming Goodwill for Free

Troy Hunt posits that sometimes we are simply consuming goodwill.

Weary, old, a little broken, but not letting go of the dream: edtech in the 21st Century

Jon Dron shares his thoughts on how to help the edtech community find its soul again.

Four Tet on His 155-Hour Spotify Playlist, the Coolest Thing on Streaming

Kieran Hebden discusses his epic Spotify playlist, an artefact for listeners to explore.

Rewilding Cities

Clive Thompson thinks about the idea of monocropping and the impact of rewilding beyond just nature.

Read Write Respond #078

So that was July for me, how about you? As always, hope you are safe and well.

Image by Bryan Mathers

Background image via “Lego Stranger Things (fx)” by decypher the code is licensed under CC BY-SA

Bookmarked Uber broke laws, duped police and secretly lobbied governments, leak reveals (The Guardian)

Amid taxi strikes and riots in Paris, Kalanick ordered French executives to retaliate by encouraging Uber drivers to stage a counter-protest with mass civil disobedience.

Warned that doing so risked putting Uber drivers at risk of attacks from “extreme right thugs” who had infiltrated the taxi protests and were “spoiling for a fight”, Kalanick appeared to urge his team to press ahead regardless. “I think it’s worth it,” he said. “Violence guarantee[s] success. And these guys must be resisted, no? Agreed that right place and time must be thought out.”

The Guardian take a dive into the decisions that led to where Uber is today. This is unpacked further in three podcasts, including an interview with Mark MacGann about the decision to blow the whistle.
Bookmarked Rewilding Cities – Clive Thompson – Medium (Medium)

We’ve monocropped streets — so they’re used almost exclusively for cars. Time to rewild

Inspired by Thalia Verkade and Marco te Brömmelstroet’s discussion of banning cars in cities, Clive Thompson thinks about the idea of monocropping and the impact of rewilding beyond just nature.

In the same way that monocropping corn creates weaker, less resilient land, monocropping our streets with cars creates cities that aren’t as vibrant as they ought to be. We often don’t notice it, because we’ve trained ourselves to think of streets as “almost exclusively for cars”. But if you think of all the things you could do with streets, you realize how weird it is that we have, for decades now, used them mostly only for vehicles.

This reminds me of a piece that I wrote a few years ago about ‘rewilding education‘. Also, the suggestion of replacing roads had me thinking about the scene in Babakiueria where they propose replacing the freeway, a ‘baron wasteland’, with bushland. Of course, this is really a comical reference to the tendency to build on top of existing sacred sites.

Bookmarked Weary, old, a little broken, but not letting go of the dream: edtech in the 21st Century by Jon Dron (jondron.ca)

Edtech is learning from that model, replicating it, amplifying it. ‘Content’ made of bite-size video lectures and pop quizzes, reinforced by adaptive models, vie for pole position in charts of online learning products. These are not the products of a diseased imagination. They are the products of one that has atrophied.

This is not what we intended. This is not what we imagined. This is not what we wanted. Sucked into a bigger machine, scaled up, our inventions turned against us. Willingly, half-wittedly, we became what we are not. We became parts in someone else’s machine.

Jon Dron reflects upon the current edtech conversations. He shares his thoughts on how to help the edtech community find its soul again:

We must make playgrounds, not production lines. We must embrace the logic of the poem, not the logic of the program. We must see one another in all our multifaceted strangeness, not just in our self-curated surfaces. We must celebrate and nurture the diversity, the eccentricities, the desires, the fears, the things that make us who we are, that make us more than we were, together and as individuals. The things we do not and, often, cannot measure.

Dron’s list of dot-points are a useful provocation. I feel it also fits within the wider discussion of the small web.

Liked Enclouding education (code acts in education)

The cloud is a largely invisible, background presence in education, despite playing an increasingly significant role in many technical and institutional processes and practices. As recent relevant scholarship on the cloud has indicated, cloud computing arrangements are significantly affecting and reshaping a range of industries and sectors. The cloud represents an expansion of corporate big tech power into sectors like education, introducing new economic models, platform ecosystem arrangements, and AIOps capacities of automated governance.

Liked GitHub – ZaneH/piano-trainer: 🎹 Memorize piano scales with ease! A music practice program w/ MIDI support. Consider it an interactive reference manual (GitHub)

🎹 Memorize piano scales with ease! A music practice program w/ MIDI support. Consider it an interactive reference manual – GitHub – ZaneH/piano-trainer: 🎹 Memorize piano scales with ease! A music p…

Liked Tour de France: How many calories will the winner burn? (The Conversation)

Top Tour de France cyclists who complete all 21 stages burn about 120,000 calories during the race – or an average of nearly 6,000 calories per stage. On some of the more difficult mountain stages – like this year’s Stage 12 – racers will burn close to 8,000 calories. To make up for these huge energy losses, riders eat delectable treats such as jam rolls, energy bars and mouthwatering “jels” so they don’t waste energy chewing.

Tadej Pogačar won both the 2021 and 2020 Tour de France and weighs only 146 pounds (66 kilograms). Tour de France cyclists don’t have much fat to burn for energy. They have to keep putting food energy into their bodies so they can put out energy at what seems like a superhuman rate. So this year, while watching a stage of the Tour de France, note how many times the cyclists eat – now you know the reason for all that snacking.

Liked The silent danger of deep gum disease (bbc.com)

For many of these conditions, it is a two-way relationship. For instance, periodontitis may worsen conditions such as atherosclerosis, the hardening of the artery walls, and the presence of atherosclerosis also predisposes patients to periodontitis. There have been no randomised controlled trials (RCT), considered the gold standard of medical investigation, delving into this relationship (these would be hard to carry out ethically, denying one group treatment of their periodontitis for a prolonged period to see how it affected their atherosclerosis). However, periodontitis-causing bacteria usually found only in the mouth have been discovered embedded in atherosclerotic plaques.

Of all these chronic health conditions, diabetes has the strongest two-way link with periodontitis. People with type 2 diabetes have a three-fold greater risk of developing periodontitis than people without. For people who have type 2 diabetes and periodontitis, the infection worsens their body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.

Liked The Swerve (Locus)

The swerve is our hopeful future. Our happy ending isn’t averting the disas­ter. Our happy ending is surviving the disaster. Managed retreat. Emergency measures.

In the swerve, we’ll still have refugee crises, but we’ll address them hu­manely, rather than building gulags and guard-towers.

We’ll still have wildfires, but we’ll evacuate cities ahead of them, and we’ll commit billions to controlled burns.

We’ll still have floods, but we’ll relocate our cities out of floodplains.

Replied to Who am I? (Bianca Hewes)

If I’m in a non school based teacher position… am I really a teacher? And what does it even mean to be a teacher?

Thank you for sharing your reflection Bianca. I have been out of schools for years and have found identity one of the biggest challenges.

Although I still clearly work within ‘education’, a lot of my work has morphed to working behind the scenes. My title is ‘subject matter expert’, whatever that means. Really I find myself doing the work required, whether that might be. This is not the job of a ‘teacher’, but it is also not the job of the admin either. Strangely it is a continuation of what I was doing in school, but out of the classroom, whether it be timetabling, daily organization, academic reports, data management etc … These are legitimate activities with clear outcomes that need to be done, just not sure they create a very clear narrative.

Replied to Ed Tech Boxes by Tom Woodward (bionicteaching.com)

I want people with serious concerns about edtech but I want people who see potential. I want people who have goals and see technology playing a role in achieving those goals. I avoid people with easy answers and blinding confidence. Give me people who worry at night that they’re wrong. Give me people who help you navigate complexity but don’t hide it. Give me people who can see when it’s technology causing a problem and when technology is just providing evidence of larger societal issues. These things aren’t angst to me but an accurate and honest view of a messed up world and an attempt to navigate a path to something better.

I really enjoyed this reflection Tom on finding balance, as well as keeping on keeping on. This is something that I tried to capture a few years ago in regards to ‘being informed’ in response the Cambridge Analytica revelations.

One thing that I was left thinking about after reading your piece was a recent interview with Kieran Hebden’s creative use of Spotify. Rather than catering for people who do not care or complaining about the way in which the service surfaces some tracks and not others, Hebden’s seems to ‘see the potential’ in using the swath of music available to create an evolving artefact for listeners to explore themselves.

It would seem that there is always a choice.

Listened Sons Of, by Sam Prekop and John McEntire from Sam Prekop and John McEntire

Prekop and McEntire’s Sons Of is a thrillingly diverse journey and a masterclass in longform music that reveals nuance at each listen. By concentrating their considerable skills as both creators and curators, the duo have crafted an album abundantly vibrant, an intoxicating exploration of pure inspiration and intuition.

I really like how although these tracks are quite lengthly, they never feel overly repetitive or boring. This is something that Philip Sherburne captures in his review:

Every few bars, there’s a new sound clamoring for your attention; the chords gradually become more enveloping, radiant, even sentimental. The drifting harmonies echo the Sea and Cake at their balmiest and most bucolic, where even the slightest effort melts beneath the glow of the endless summer; the tumbling groove exemplifies the ramshackle, improvisatory spirit that’s at the heart of modular synthesis.

Place between Prop and Jono Ma.

Bookmarked So You’ve Decided to Unfollow Me – Cory Doctorow – Medium (Medium)

Find a writer you like and read them. If you can’t find the writer whose work you want to read, become that writer. That’s what I did. It’s great.

Cory Doctorow addresses the changing times in regards to challenges with being able to be able follow a particular part of someone’s interests or output.

If you loved a writer’s output of x but couldn’t abide their output of y, no problem — you’d just suck their feed into your reader and tell it to block stuff tagged as y.

That dream is mostly dead. Even on the Fediverse, your ability to follow someone for x but not y is crude as hell, hardly better than the web of the early 2000s.

Personally, what I find interesting about Doctorow’s discussion is whether you find a writer or are just interested in a topic. Although I am really intrigued by Chris Aldrich’s model, where you can easily put together a custom feed of the bits you you like. I fear that this sort of model still puts too my onus on the writer, not the reader. I also feel that maybe there is something of a reality of going crate digging. Maybe, feed readers will continue to evolve and become ‘smart’, but for now I will live with the practice of serendipitously sifting and sorting through feeds for the dots.