Without “problematic,” then imperfect art is “bad” and you have to choose between cherishing the ways in which it improved your life and jettisoning the art and its effects on you. That all-or-nothing framework makes acknowledging imperfections needlessly expensive and thus unpopular.
But with “problematic,” we can have it both ways: “This art, whose flaws I acknowledge and wish to see improved upon, made me happy and improved my life and my understanding of the world.” That statement doesn’t give a pass to the flaws in art, it doesn’t make a virtue out of the work’s hurtful or ugly imperfections — rather, it opens a space to talk about (and thus address) the flaws without having to deny your pleasures, influences and loves.
My first impression was that it felt like the WordPress.com editor. I can see the appeal of blocks, it works for the new Google Sites and Weebly, but fear that it is overkill for what I do? I also noticed that Post Kinds disappeared.
Interestingly, in the screen providing a summary of all the posts, there is an option for starting a new post in the Gutenberg editor or the classic editor. Maybe this choice is an eye to the future, just wonder if there is a means of making ‘classic’ as default?
Some other reflections:
Dear the WordPress. You know I love you like family. But I am testing Gutenberg with Jaws right now and we really need to have an honest discussion about where this is going, including discussions from the other concerned developers.
The Google News Initiative: Building a stronger future for news – Google are launching the Google News Initiative (GNI), our effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age. It’s focused on three objectives: Elevate and strengthen quality journalism; Evolve business models to drive sustainable growth; and Empower news organizations through technological innovation
Transitioning Google URL Shortener to Firebase Dynamic Links – To refocus Google’s efforts, they are turning down support for goo.gl over the coming weeks and replacing it with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL). FDLs are smart URLs that allow you to send existing and potential users to any location within an iOS, Android or web app.
New ways to read more with audiobooks from Google Play – Two months ago Google launched audiobooks from Google Play. They have a few updates to make it even easier, whether you like to listen on the go with your phone or at home with the Google Assistant on Google Home.
Previewing Android P – Google has releaseed the first developer preview of Android P, the newest version of Android.
3 Website Tricks Using Chrome’s Developer Tools – Chrome’s Developer Tools are great for diagnosing or fixing problems with websites, Logan Booker unpacks three: reveal form passwords, delete obtrusive elements, as well as inspect cookies and local storage variables. — even if you’re not a web developer
The first Chrome OS tablet is here – Jacob Kastrenakes suggests at $329, the Tab 10 is somewhat more expensive than other Chromebooks, which often start below $300. But if schools are looking for something like an iPad, Acer has just given them an option.
Mute YouTube – Alice Keeler explains how to mute tabs in Google Chrome to stop audio from automatically playing.
A Cool Kaizena Update – Kaizena have updated the way they handle voice comments, by improving the speed and providing the ability to record ever if your wi-fi drops out.
Google Maps learns 39 new languages – Google are making Google Maps even more useful by adding 39 new languages—spoken by an estimated 1.25 billion people worldwide: Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bosnian, Burmese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, Georgian, Hebrew, Icelandic, Indonesian, Kazakh, Khmer, Kyrgyz, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Mongolian, Norwegian, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Zulu.
Machine learning meets culture – Art Palette lets you choose a color palette, and using a combination of computer vision algorithms, it matches artworks from cultural institutions from around the world with your selected hues.
The Building Blocks of Interpretability – Google has published “The Building Blocks of Interpretability,” a new article exploring how feature visualization can combine together with other interpretability techniques to understand aspects of how networks make decisions.
Classroom Hacks: Google Edition – GTT045 – Matt Miller and Kasey Bell share seem simple strategies for getting more out of instruction and interaction in the classroom, such as using Hangouts as a document camera or changing the url for different purposes.
At work we took another step with the reporting solution that we have been working on. This involved setting up two schools. There was a bit of a rush to have all the testing and documentation completed beforehand. However, the relative smoothness made it all worthwhile.
In regards to the family, our eldest daughter was playing a game on the iPad recently and I said that maybe one day she might code her own such game. She said she could, but she had already decided that she was going to be a performer. I feel challenged everyday by my role as a parent. Do I step in and suggest that maybe she does not sound as good as Sia as she belts out her rendition of Chandelier or do I just support her in dreaming big? At the moment, it is the later. Our youngest on the other hand must have found my copy of A More Beautiful Question as she has taken to asking the Five Whys about absolutely everything. I answer and answer again. My wife says that I will lose, but I don’t see it like that. It is about the conversation, right?
On a personal level, I find myself diving deeper into reflections these days, especially with my second blog providing a means of ongoing engagement. One of the side-effects has been my lack of engagement in spaces like Twitter. I still write extended responses when challenged, but I do not trawl through conversations or conference hashtags as much as I used to. I am left wondering what am I missing in my move more and more to RSS and curated feeds?
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
Automation Generation – Although many talk about the power and potential of automation to aid us, sometimes we need to step back and ask ourselves what this means and where the limits lay.
Inquiry classrooms (and inquiry teachers) are constructed day by day, session by session. Being conscious of the choreography of our teaching and the degree to which it amplifies or diminishes inquiry is a powerful way to build culture over time. These ‘hacks’ are simple but by making one change, we can gain insights to which we have been previously blind.
The Library of the Future – Deborah Netolicky reflects on her recent investigation into libraries. This include the history of libraries, as well as how they and those who work within them are defined. Her review of the literature found that libraries are: neutral and democratising; participatory and connected locally and globally; centred around learning, literacy, research, and knowledge; and, facilitators of interdisciplinarity. I have written about the future of libraries before, however Netolicky’s deep dive takes it a step further.
School libraries have been called instructional media centres, media centres, information centres, information commons, iCentres, learning labs, learning commons, digital libraries, and cybraries (Farmer, 2017). These terms are in some ways faddish and transitory. ‘Library’, however, has a deep and long tradition associated with it, although the spaces and tools of libraries change over time. Librarians in schools have also had many names, such as teacher librarian, library teacher, library media specialist, library media teacher, cybrarian, information navigator, information specialist, information professional, informationist, and information scientist (Farmer, 2017; Lankes, 2011). Lankes (2011) argues that the terms ‘library’ and ‘librarian’ are entwined with the concept of knowledge and learning. I have said before that those claiming disruption should embrace interrogation of their ideas. Does ‘library’ need to be disrupted, in what ways, and why (or why not)?
As students progress through Years 8, 9 & 10 in the coming years, there will increasingly be more and more time for students to self direct their Personalised Curriculum. This may include, but is not limited to: Acceleration of core curriculum subjects leading to early commencement of HSC in one or two subjects. If required, intervention strategies for those students who do not meet minimum national benchmark standards for literacy and numeracy. Early commencement of VET (Vocational and Educational Training) subjects either at school or through TAFE. Participation in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), completion of digital badge courses or informal internships with local industry experts and ‘start ups’. Self-directed electives and collaborative projects as a result of students working with teachers with the following provocation: Knowing my Strengths, Motivations and Interests (SIM), how can I use my identified talents and affirmed capabilities to ensure a better world?
How to Write an Edu-book – Alex Quigley discusses his six steps to writing a book. In addition to the reflections from Mary Myatt, Tom Sherrington and Ryan Holiday, they offer a useful insight into the writing process. It is interesting to compare these with the process often taught in schools. Students often get straight into writing without being given initial planning time.
I wanted to share my own edu-bookery. It is important to state that for me, regular blogging and writing separate to a book is an excellent mental work-bench for writing a book, offering me the discipline needed to write habitually and at length. Still, my book writing process is really quite specific and I have fell upon a helpful habit in writing my latest book.
Assessing Assessment for Digital Making – Oliver Quinlan discusses the challenges associated with Black and Wiliam’s work on feedback and digital technologies. In the absence of defined criteria, he suggests using comparative judgement where feedback is gained by comparing with a similar object.
Comparative Judgement is a field relatively new to education practice that offers huge potential for this problem. It’s based on well established research that humans are relatively poor at making objective judgements about individual objects, but very good at making comparisons. Play a musical note to most people and ask them what it is and they will struggle. Play them two notes and ask them which is higher and they are likely to be successful. Repeat this several times, with a clever algorithm to keep track and present them with the right combinations and you can come up with a ranking. These rankings have been shown to be very reliable, even more so if you involve several people as ‘judges’.
One of the things that is funny is that these technologies get designed for a very particular idea of what they could be used for and then they twist in different ways.
Typing Tips: The How and Why of Teaching Students Keyboarding Skills – Kathleen Morris reflects on the place of typing in schools. She collects together a number of sites used to teach typing. It feels like we spend so much time debating handwriting sometimes that we forget about typing. Airelle Pardes suggests that the lack of a keyboard (and therefore typing) is one of the major reasons for the demise of the iPad in education. The discussion of typing also reminds me of a post from Catherine Gatt from a few years ago associated with assessing typing.
There are so many great games and online tools designed for younger students. Once students begin recognising the alphabet, I think they can begin learning to type. This can complement your teaching of traditional writing and literacy.
On the Need for Phone Free Classrooms – Pernille Ripp shares why her class will become phone free. A part of this problem is that the compulsive behaviour of social media and smart phones is by design. Douglas Rushkoff’s argues that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Mike Niehoff’s concern is what happens in the future when people have not learnt independance and moderation?
I know that I have pushed the use of phones in our classrooms before on this blog, how I have written about using them purposefully, but I will no longer subscribe to the notion that when kids use their phones it is only because they are bored. It is too easy to say that if teachers just created relevant and engaging lessons then no child would use their phones improperly in our rooms. That’s not it, all of us with devices have had our attention spans rewired to constantly seek stimulus. To instantly seek something other than what we are doing. To constantly seek something different even if what we are doing is actually interesting. And not because what we seek out is so much better, look at most people’s Snapchat streaks and you will see irrelevant images of tables and floors and half faces simply to keep a streak alive. It is not that our students are leaving our teaching behind at all times because they are bored, it is more because many of us, adults and children alike, have lost the ability to focus on anything for a longer period of time.
Whereas “[e]ach generation is expected to lower barriers for adoption successively for the next generation” I wonder if it is maybe time to update some of the tooling from generation 1 and 2 to be more compatible with generations 3 and 4?
The story of the invention of the PDF may not have a legal battle at the center of it or a hook like a Suzanne Vega song to push its story forward, but it does have this scandal. And love it or hate it, Manafort’s awkward use of a tool used by basically everyone really highlights how prevalent the PDF really is.
Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I actually feel better when I accept the fact that there’s a good chance it’s not going to get easier. Then I can focus on this question: “How to keep going?” Whether you’ve burned out, just starting out, starting over, or even if you’ve had success beyond your wildest dreams, that question always remains: “How do you keep going?”
Many things that get labelled as “fads” might work for an individual teacher (although many things might work better) but they only become fads when divorced from their original meaning and then are spread around and are imposed on other teachers. Teachers, being brilliant, are able to make these things work as best they can, or at least to minimise harm, but they still have an opportunity cost. Worst still they add to our workload and drive teachers out of teaching.
Metrics, Thy Name is Vanity – Harold Jarche reflects on turning Google Analytics off. He instead suggests that the metric that matters (for him) is how many books he sells and how many people sign up to his courses. He gives the example of a course that had hundreds of likes and reposts, yet only one person actually registered. This has me thinking about which metric matters to me and the way in which I engage with others. Maybe Doug Belshaw is right in creating a committed group of supporters?
About a year ago I deleted Google Analytics from this website. I no longer know where visitors come from, what they find interesting, or what they click on. This has liberated my thinking and I believe has made my writing a bit better. I always wrote for myself but I would regularly peak at my statistics. Was my viewership going up? What did people read? How did they get there? What search terms were people using? — Who cares? There are a lot of numbers that ‘social media experts’ will tell you to maximize. But there are few that make any difference.
Consider this a rational corrective to centuries of dismissive shrugs, then: look for the gorilla. Do what we already automatically do with male art: assume there is something worthy and interesting hiding there. If you find it, admire it. And outline it, so that others will see it too. Once you point it out, we’ll never miss it again. And we will be better for seeing as obvious and inevitable something that previously – absent the instructions – we simply couldn’t perceive.
FOCUS ON … Cambridge Analytica
This month saw the revelation of the ways in which Cambridge Analytica used and abused data scraped from Facebook to nudge voters in the 2016 election. It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new era. In part this reminds me of the changes in the way people saw things after Snowden. Thinking about Doug Belshaw’s web timeline, maybe this will mark a new era of informed consent. Here then is a collection of responses to the current crisis.
My Cow Game Extracted Your Facebook Data – Ian Bogust discusses his experience creating a game on Facebook and explains how the Pandora’s box associated with external apps is one that they cannot be closed.
The people owned the web, tech giants stole it. This is how we take it back – Jonathon Freeland argues that Cambridge Analytica represents an attempt to reverse the internet’s push for the decentralization of power, to instead restore the traditional imbalance. The concern though is this recentralising of power is being done in such a way as if it were “the organic word of the crowd itself, spread virally from one person to another, with no traces or fingerprints left by those at the top.”
On The Obama Did The EXACT Same Thing Argument – Kin Lane explains that although Obama’s use of data may have been technically similar to Trump, the topics discussed in 2012 (big government, 2nd amendment, healthcare etc) were different to those pushed in 2016 (Mexicans coming for their jobs, the Muslim people coming to kills us, the community college mass shooting down the street being false flag, how queers and drug dealers should die, and how the Jews running the deep state had rigged the election.)
We were warned about Cambridge Analytica. Why didn’t we listen? – Nicole Kobie lists a raft of reports involving Facebook and shady uses of data, such as Obama’s 2012 campaign and 2015 revolutions about Cambridge Analytica. She contends that this time is different as there are a number of whistleblowers who have come forward.
Facebook’s Surveillance Machine – Zeynep Tufekei explains that what Cambridge Analytica did may not have been a breach, in the technical sense, but it was a breach of trust. Facebook failed to gain informed consent, leading to the exploitation of users and their data.
Fish that swim upstream & shipwrecks – Borrowing from the work of Paul Virilio, Benjamin Doxtdator explains that when we created social media, we also created the shipwreck that is Cambridge Analytica at the same time.
Facebook: is it time we all deleted our accounts? – Arwa Mahdawl explains that the issues associated with Cambridge Analytica are only the tip of the iceberg, as Facebook is only one of many platforms engaged in surveillance capitalism. The alternative though is not necessarily clear.
Facebooked, Googled And Recovering Imagination – Sherri Spelic returns to two books written about Google and Facebook, highlighting that many of the current concerns around regulation were identified then. In response, Spelic calls more more imagination, look up, pay attention and pause.
Facebook – to delete, or not to delete? – The Luddbrarian suggests that what makes the current #DeleteFacebook campaign different is that the data breaches allowed Trump to win. The problem with this is that it overlooks the problem at the base of such automated solutions. What we need is to widen our technological imagination and consider how Facebook could be better.
Don’t Delete Facebook. Do Something About It – Siva Vaidhyanathan suggests that it will take more than a few users leaving to impact Facebook, instead we need to turn our attention to activism and supporting collective groups, such as scientific organizations, universities, libraries, museums, newspapers and civic organizations.
It’s Time to Regulate the Internet – Franklin Foer says that the time has arrived for the United States to create its own regulatory infrastructure, designed to accord with our own values and traditions.
Back to the Blog – Dan Cohen suggests it is psychological gravity, not technical inertia, that is the bigger antagonist of the open web. His answer is to write more under our own banner as a model for those who are to come.
I have long been interested in the role of the producer in regards to influencing music and culture. Whether it be Mark Ronson, The Neptunes, Timbaland and Stuart Price. Here then is a collection of notes on Jack Antonoff:
Tiny Desk Concert
Bleachers performed on NPR Tiny Desk Concert. This stripped back concert includes a number of reimaginings, such as including Don’t Take the Money with Radio Gaga.
Making of Don’t Take the Money
Jack Antonoff reflects on the making of “Don’t Take the Money”. He provides an insight into the challenge of getting out the sound inside your head with the tools and skills at your disposal. Condensed into eight minutes, this overlooks the reality that such creations can take a considerable amount of time to develop.
Jack Antonoff reflects on the making of “Look What You Made Me Do”. Hearing the song on the radio for the first time, he provides a commentary sharing the thinking to some of the sounds and choices. He also reflects on the life of an artist, including the following:
“You know a song is done when you run to back it up with the hard drive”
“Music is meant to be a mini-documentary of that moment”
“Start young, because then you have longer before you have that conversation”
“You can’t learn it so just get out there and do it”
The Instant Motion Tracking Behind Motion Stills AR – Google has announced a new Augmented Reality (AR) mode in Motion Stills for Android. With the new AR mode, a user simply touches the viewfinder to place fun, virtual 3D objects on static or moving horizontal surfaces.
It’s Safer Internet Day: Key tools to protect yourself online #SaferInternetDay – As a part of Safer Internet Day, Google has rolled out a new version of our Security Checkup, which now provides personalized guidance to help you improve the security of your account. Instead of the same checklist for everyone, the Security Checkup is now a tailored guide to securing your data – your own personal security advisor.
The browser for a web worth protecting – Chrome is stopping all ads on sites that repeatedly display video ads that play at full blast or giant pop-ups where you can’t seem to find the exit icon even after they’ve been flagged
The Google Assistant is going global – Nick Fox discusses the expansion of Google Assistant. With more languages, more features and closer integrations with phone makers and carriers, the Assistant is getting better for you?
Google Domains: an easy way to get online – Google are releasing more domain endings, as well as opening the coverage to Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and Vietnam.
Move projects forward from one place—Hangouts Chat now available – Google have released Chat into the core suite. From direct messages to group conversations, Chat helps teams collaborate easily and efficiently. With dedicated, virtual rooms to house projects over time—plus threaded conversations—Chat makes it simple to track progress and follow up tasks.
HTTP still under attack – Dave Winer collects together a number of concerns associated with Google’s push to HTTPS, including the cost on the web of such a decision, as well as the possibilities of other solutions to solve the problem of security.
CheckMark v1.0 – Chris Craft announces an update to Checkmark, allowing users to customise the comments, as well as save a version to Drive so that they can be accessed on multiple computers.
A Student’s Guide to Using Google Sheets – Alice Keeler provides an introduction for students to four basic features: how to expand a column, turn on word wrap, make a big answer box and create a new sheet.
YouTube penalises Logan Paul for dead rat Taser video – Alex Hern has reported that YouTube has once again penalised vlogger Logan Paul for posting inappropriate content, just weeks after he was suspended from the company’s paid-content program over a video trivialising suicide.
Preventing Harm to the Broader YouTube Community – Google has announced additional steps we may take beyond our current strike systems when channels upload videos that result in widespread harm to our community of creators, viewers and advertisers.
Capture more of your favorite moments with Google Clips – Google announces the release of Clips, a new type of camera that captures the moments that happen in between posed pictures by using on-device machine learning to look for great facial expressions from the people—and pets—in your life. It turns these into short clips without you having to use video editing software.
Googling Libraries – A collection of ways Google G Suite for Education can be used in the library, including the creation of digital spaces, supporting research, organising thinking and making connections beyond the classroom.
Wow, it’s March already. At work, I have been supporting schools getting attendance and reporting up and running. I was also lucky enough to attend another session of a collective looking at ongoing reporting. As far as possible, I feel it is important to have a wider perspective as to how all the parts are working together as a system.
On the family front, our eldest has started the year well. We were unsure how she would respond to a teacher whose every step involves Star Wars. Prizes. Class pet. Table ‘systems’. I have therefore answered endless questions about characters and various storylines. Why is Anakin also Darth Vader? Who is the nicest character? Why does Yoda die? If Yoda is the leader, why does he live alone on Dagobah? Why does Kylo Ren have to be bad, because if he wasn’t so bad I think I would like him more. This is taking classroom themes to a whole new level!
Googling Libraries – A collection of ways Google G Suite for Education can be used in the library, including the creation of digital spaces, supporting research, organising thinking and making connections beyond the classroom.
Here then are some things that have also left me thinking this month …
Learning and Teaching
Mulling Time – Emily Fintelman reflects on the need to find time to mull over things. To do this, she suggests scheduling time, finding a challenge partner and recording your thoughts. Coming from the perspective of comprehension, Julie Beck argues that unless we do something with what we have read within 24-hours then we often forget it. She recommends slow reading to provide time to take things in. This builds on Ryan Halliday’s point to do something with what you read. I am left wondering about the place of digital literacies to support all of this.
To mull, we need to think deeply, and at length. This can be difficult if we don’t set aside time or make a plan for it. Perhaps your school or organisation isn’t able to provide you with this extra time to mull but it is integral you find a way to process what you have experienced. With schools doing so much, we need to avoid going ‘an inch deep and a mile wide’. We need to make space to think deeply and at length.
An annotation service like Hypothesis allows you to highlight, save, and (possibly) share individual lines from a text. This allows for saving this content across a page, and across multiple pages for themes. Used in discussion, this allows for collaborative reading exercises, or group annotations. This also allows for conducting research while you write and annotate. Since Hypothesis will import PDFs, you can annotate in the tool, it will give you a digital trail of breadcrumbs as you’re reading online to see what you found to be important. After you are finished reading and researching, you can go back and see what texts you’ve read, and the important elements from these pieces. Furthermore, if you effectively tag your annotations, you can look for larger themes across your readings.
Comments For Kids Still Count: Teaching And Promoting Quality Commenting – Kathleen Morris wonders about the changes to blog comments over time. Thinking about the classroom, she provides some tips, including setting guidelines, being consistent, using explicit lessons and involve parents. A recent innovation that I think has potential for supporting comments is Micro.blog. As a platform, it allows users to share a feed from their blog in a central space and converse there.
While we can’t control what goes on in the larger blogging community too much, we have much more control over our classroom blogging programs. The comment section is an excellent place to connect, learn, and grow. Who wouldn’t want to tap into that?
Problem Finding – Based on the methods of Design Kit, Tom Barrett breaks the process of framing a problem into eight steps: describe the problem, list the stakeholders, re-frame the problem as a ‘How Might We’ statement,
describe the impact you are attempting to have, who needs your help the most, what the possible solutions are, describe the constraints associated with your idea and rewrite the original HMW question. I remember when I ran Genius Hour, I used how might we questions with students, however I struggled with a process supporting students in developing these. I think Barrett’s steps would have helped with that.
The framing and re-framing process forces us to loop back into the process of defining the problem a little longer. It slows us a little and checks our enthusiasm to rush ahead and ensures we have carefully crafted our problem statement and it is an accurate reflection of a worthwhile issue.
Facebook is about making money by keeping us addicted to Facebook. It always has been — and that’s why all of our angst and headlines are not going to change a damn thing.
The Case Against Google – Charles Duhigg takes a look at the history of Anti-Trust laws and the breaking up of monopolies. From oil to IBM, he explains why it is important for large companies to be broken up. Not for the consumer, but rather for the sake of development and innovation. He uses the case of the vertical search site, Foundem.com, to demonstrate the way in which Google kills competition by removing them from searches. Rather than living off their innovation, Adam and Shivaun Raff have spent the last twelve years campaigning against Google. Supported by Gary Reback, they took their case to European Commission in Brussels. If such changes and challenges are dependent on individuals like the Raff’s standing up, it makes you wondering how many just throw it all in? Cory Doctorow captures this scenario in his novel, The Makers.
Antitrust has never been just about costs and benefits or fairness. It’s never been about whether we love the monopolist. People loved Standard Oil a century ago, and Microsoft in the 1990s, just as they love Google today. Rather, antitrust has always been about progress. Antitrust prosecutions are part of how technology grows. Antitrust laws ultimately aren’t about justice, as if success were something to be condemned; instead, they are a tool that society uses to help start-ups build on a monopolist’s breakthroughs without, in the process, being crushed by the monopolist. And then, if those start-ups prosper and make discoveries of their own, they eventually become monopolies themselves, and the cycle starts anew. If Microsoft had crushed Google two decades ago, no one would have noticed. Today we would happily be using Bing, unaware that a better alternative once existed. Instead, we’re lucky a quixotic antitrust lawsuit helped to stop that from happening. We’re lucky that antitrust lawyers unintentionally guaranteed that Google would thrive.
Small b Blogging – Tom Critchlow provides a case for network blogging where your focus is on a particular audience. For me, I often have at least one person in mind when writing, whether it be a reply to another idea or something to share. This approach however seems to stand in contrast to the suggestion that blogging is first and foremostly personal.
Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”. And remember that you are your own audience! Small b blogging is writing things that you link back to and reference time and time again. Ideas that can evolve and grow as your thinking and audience grows.
The Tyranny of Convenience – Tim Wu plots a convenient history, with the first revolution being of the household (Oven, Vacuum etc) and then the personal (Walkman, Facebook etc). He argues that the irony of this individualisation is the creation of ‘templated selfs’. Wu argues that struggling and working things out is about identity. I recently reflected on the impact of convenience on learning. I am wondering how this relates to mental and physical automation?
All the personal tasks in our lives are being made easier. But at what cost?
Three years after publishing the first version of Another Web Bites The Dust (35 corpses), it was time to update, and add 24 more dead web sites to the video.
Storytelling and Reflection
Building Staff Culture: The Importance of Gratitude – Chris Wejr reflects on his efforts to be more grateful and embed opportunities for his staff to do the same. He provides a list of possible activities to use. I have written about improving staff morale in the past. Wejr’s list provides some new ideas to explore.
I am retraining my brain to see the positives (which I used to be so good at). Looking for the positives does not mean we ignore the challenges… but embracing the good things in life sure give us more energy to deal with the ‘not-so-good’ things when they happen!
As private enterprise takes an increasingly prominent role in the creation and management of ostensibly public urban space, as neo-authoritarianism spreads unchecked, and as pervasive technology weaves itself ever more intimately into all the sites and relations of contemporary life, all of the material conditions are right for Chinese-style social credit to spread on other ground. Consider what Sidewalk Labs’ neighborhood-scale intervention in Toronto implies—or the start-up Citymapper’s experiments with privatized mass transit in London, or even Tinder’s control over access to the pool of potential romantic partners in cities around the world—and it’s easy to imagine a network of commercial partners commanding all the choke points of urban life. The freedoms that were once figured as a matter of “the right to the city” would become contingent on algorithmically determined certification of good conduct.
The Cost of Reporting while Female – Anne Helen Petersen documents a number of examples where women have been threatened while working in journalism. This includes a series of historical cases. This reminded me of Lindy West’s confrontation of troll and why he chose to do what he did. I am always left wondering what the answer is, sometimes fearing that such thinking creates more problems than solutions. Maybe there is something in Sherri Spelic’s suggestion to ‘think small’.
Over the course of nearly 200 years, female journalists have been under threat because of their gender, race, beat, views, and coverage.
CM 097: Sam Walker on Creating Outstanding Teams – In an interview with Gayle Allen, Sam Walker argues that successful ‘captains’ are not what we usually think. In his research, he identified seven key behaviours: they are relentless, aggressive, willing to do thankless jobs, shy away from the limelight, excel at quiet communication, are difficult to manage and have excellent resilience and emotional control. Moving forward, he suggests dropping your preconceptions about leadership, looking for those who deflect praise onto others and are focused on team goals, even if this is critical of current practices. This has many correlations with the work of Leading Teams.
Sam Walker lays out his findings in his latest book, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World’s Greatest Teams. Initially, he expected to find a magical combination of factors such as exceptional skill, brilliant coaching and remarkable strategy. Instead, he discovered something completely different: the 16 teams with the longest winning streaks across 37 elite sports succeeded because of a single player — the captain of the team. These captains were not only not the best player, but also possessed all or most of seven characteristics rarely associated with great leaders.
FOCUS ON … Polarisation
There was a short pop-up MOOC, Engagement in a Time of Polarisation,running over the last few weeks. When it was announced, I had every inclination to participate, yet it just has not happened. There are a range of reasons, some of which are captured in my short microcast. However, I have been engrossed in the various texts shared throughout. I have therefore collected some of them here:
Antigonish 2.0: A Way for Higher Ed to Help Save the Web – This is Bonnie Stewart’s call to action. She outlines a way to develop the local and global literacies needed to foster functional democratic participation. This model involves three layers: a distributed international network, institutional capacity-building and local study clubs. This post is supported by the opening webinar in which a range of guests explore the question of enagagement.
Power, Polarization, and Tech – Chris Gillard explains that polarisation is always about power. It is a means of garnering engagement and attention. In many respects, social media and silicon valley promotes polarisation for its own good. This is best understood by considering who is protected by these spaces. This is often a reflection on the inequality within these organisations.
It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech – Zeynep Tufekei explains that just because we can all create a social media account in seconds this supposed ‘democracy’ is a phantom public. Although it may seem that we can all ‘connect the world’, each of the platforms is controlled by algorithms designed to keep the prosumer engaged and advertised. This is something that Tufekei also discusses in her TEDTalk. The change needed is systemic.
Education in the (Dis)Information Age – Kris Shaffer reflects on the abundance of information on the web. He suggests that the hyperlink maybe ‘our most potent weapon’ against disinformation.
The Problem with Facts – Tim Harford explains that the solution for fake news is not simply more facts, rather we need to foster a culture of curiousity.
Inclusion Again – Sherri Spelic discusses staying quite or taking a small step in an effort to include others.
The Digital Poorhouse – Virginia Eubanks compares the restrictive nature of the poorhouses of the nineteenth century with the digital spaces of today. In conclusion, she says that we need to work together to solve this crisis.
So that is February for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.
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As Future Tense captured in the first of a two part series, China is an emerging player when it comes to overseas aid. The problem with this is that much of it is not actually ‘aid’ money. As Brad Park explains:
China actually provides a lot of state financing that is more commercially oriented and is provided market terms or close to market terms. And so much of the money in fact that is going to Russia is not aid in the strict sense of the term, they are loans offered on close to market rates, and China is offering those loans in part because it’s one of the world’s largest net creditors, it’s sitting on very large reserves, it wants to earn an attractive financial return on its capital, and so it has an aggressive overseas lending programs. So China wants those loans to be repaid with interest.
In part two, Samantha Custer, Abhijit Banerjee and Stephen Howes discuss the sustainable development goals developed by the United Nations. These provides the policy and guidance for how aid should be spent.
Reflecting on the state of democracy, Branko Milanovic looks back at the work of those like Max Weber and the concept of demagoguery:
These old-school writers were also very astute about the political science of demagoguery, which Weber defined as manipulation of the electorate through proffering of unrealistic promises. He thought the rise of demagogues was specific to Western political culture; it was a potentially dangerous side effect of democracy. Demagoguery appeared, according to Weber, first in the Mediterranean city-states and then spread to Western parliamentary systems through the role of party leaders.source
Wikipedia defines a demagogue as:
A leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation Demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so.source