Bookmarked How to change the course of human history | Eurozine by David Graeber (Eurozine)
The story we have been telling ourselves about our origins is wrong, and perpetuates the idea of inevitable social inequality. David Graeber and David Wengrow ask why the myth of 'agricultural revolution' remains so persistent, and argue that there is a whole lot more we can learn from our ancestors.
The thing that stood out to me in this lengthy post was the idea that the past was or is not always as we seem. David Graeber and David Wengrow unpack notions of inequality, that agriculture means sacrificing power and the chaotic reality of history.

The first bombshell on our list concerns the origins and spread of agriculture. There is no longer any support for the view that it marked a major transition in human societies. In those parts of the world where animals and plants were first domesticated, there actually was no discernible ‘switch’ from Palaeolithic Forager to Neolithic Farmer. The ‘transition’ from living mainly on wild resources to a life based on food production typically took something in the order of three thousand years. While agriculture allowed for the possibility of more unequal concentrations of wealth, in most cases this only began to happen millennia after its inception. In the time between, people in areas as far removed as Amazonia and the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East were trying farming on for size, ‘play farming’ if you like, switching annually between modes of production, much as they switched their social structures back and forth. Moreover, the ‘spread of farming’ to secondary areas, such as Europe – so often described in triumphalist terms, as the start of an inevitable decline in hunting and gathering – turns out to have been a highly tenuous process, which sometimes failed, leading to demographic collapse for the farmers, not the foragers.

Myths are so interesting. Even when we supposedly debunk them, they live on in our memory. As Roland Barthes explains,

Myth is imperfectible and unquestionable, time or knowledge will not make it better or worse.

One of the comments that I found interesting was that around the idea of revolutions. So often we associated revolutions with transformation, yet Graeber and Wengrow explain that they are rooted in tradition.

We must conclude that revolutionaries, for all their visionary ideals, have not tended to be particularly imaginative, especially when it comes to linking past, present, and future. Everyone keeps telling the same story. It’s probably no coincidence that today, the most vital and creative revolutionary movements at the dawn of this new millennium – the Zapatistas of Chiapas, and Kurds of Rojava being only the most obvious examples – are those that simultaneously root themselves in a deep traditional past. Instead of imagining some primordial utopia, they can draw on a more mixed and complicated narrative. Indeed, there seems to be a growing recognition, in revolutionary circles, that freedom, tradition, and the imagination have always, and will always be entangled, in ways we do not completely understand. It’s about time the rest of us catch up, and start to consider what a non-Biblical version of human history might be like.

via Doug Belshaw

Bookmarked Why the “golden age” of newspapers was the exception, not the rule by John Maxwell Hamilton (Nieman Lab)
"In our 'news' today we can see the tattler, the party pamphlet, the recondite journal of opinion, the yellow rag, the journal of commerce, the sob sister, the literary journal, and the progressive muckraker."
John Maxwell Hamilton and Heidi Tworek point out that the ‘golden years’ of newspapers between 1940 and 1980 was an anomaly in a longer, four-century history of news. In part this is a myth carried by a certain group in society:

The 1940s to 1980s were a golden age for newspaper owners to make money and journalists to make news. But they were only a golden age for a certain group of people. Many citizens — women and African-Americans, to take just two examples — often did not see themselves in news reporting and had few opportunities to shape it. It is no surprise that most of those writing the laments for times gone by are white men. Those men have long practiced such lamentations. Even in the 1980s, discussions at the American Society for Newspaper Editors were filled with a “persistent nostalgia for a mythic golden age when news was better made and better respected by the public.”

Cory Doctorow touches upon the association between newspapers and advertising in a recent interview for …

Bookmarked The mysterious heart of the Roland TR-808 drum machine (secretlifeofsynthesizers.com)
It is not really possible (at least thus far) to build an analogue copy of a Roland TR-808 without these specific transistors. Some clones have been released and some people have even attempted to build a DIY version using standard 2SC828’s and they discovered that it sounds very wrong. That’s because there is no transistor or zener diode on the planet that has the exact noise spectral profile and output level of the 2SC828-RNZ transistors from the specific 1970’s batch that was used in the production of the TR-808. If the transistor fails in a TR-808 it must only be replaced with a transistor from that original batch or it will no longer sound like a healthy TR-808. When Roland ran out of them they had to discontinue production of the instrument because the noise characteristic of these transitors is crucial to the all important snare and hand clap sounds and that white noise is also then filtered into pink noise for other sounds in the instrument. If you put a standard 2SC828-R into a TR-808 in place of the noise selected part the sound completely changes. As mentioned earlier in the article these transistors are in fact not technically speaking 2SC828’s, if they were they would not have been rejected so putting a 2SC828 in place of Q35 is futile, it’s the wrong part. Fortunately the transistor is not prone to failing so if you own an original 808 then it’s not something you should worry about.
This post on the history of the 2SC828-R transistor central to the Roland TR-808’s sound reminds me of Steven Johnson’s podcast that explored stretching instruments to breaking point. I am intrigued at the idea that to get the sound, Roland sort transistors that were deemed to be ‘out of specification’.
Liked No. 263 by Audrey Watters (HEWN)
It’s worth remembering, of course, that A Nation at Risk wasn’t so much a fact-finding commission as it was a carefully constructed (and statistically suspect) narrative about “failing schools” – a narrative that continues to be wielded in sequel after sequel after sequel after sequel after sequel after sequel.
Listened A by Jeremy Keith from adactio.com
The opening keynote from the inaugural HTML Special held before CSS Day 2016 in Amsterdam.


Jeremy Keith provides a different introduction to the #IndieWeb. He maps a path from the beginning of the web, discussing apophenia, anchors, archive, all, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Atlantic, augmentation, ARPA, attribute, Adactio and authentication.

Keith invites people to the world of forking paths:

I would like us all to spend more time in the garden of forking paths. I would like us all to continue to grow this garden of forking paths. Add your own website to this garden of forking paths. Use it to make more links.

On your website, you can link to this thing over here and that thing over there, and in doing so create an entirely new forking path.

Checked into Arthur Streeton: The art of war
During my time in Canberra, I visited the National Gallery of Australia. Away without the children, I decided to use the opportunity to explore. I part I was interested in seeing Blue Poles:

NGA – Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock

I was pleasantly surprised to find an Arthur Streeton exhibition focusing on the First World War:

Bringing together key works from collections around Australia and overseas, an important survey exhibition of Arthur Streeton’s war art will open at the NGA in December. Streeton’s contribution to the Australian war effort was significant. He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps at the Third London General Hospital in Wandsworth from 1915 to 1917 before leaving for the Western Front as an official war artist in May 1918.

His wartime output includes images of war machinery stranded in the landscape and scenes of operations headquarters, dressing stations and field hospitals. Streeton visited regions in France where the Australian army had been successful against the enemy, including Poulainville, Péronne and Mont St Quentin, overlooking the Somme. The NGA has recently acquired a deftly painted watercolour of this strategically significant area, presented as a gift to Sir John Monash, one of the war’s outstanding commanders.

I have read poems and diaries, as well as listened to Dan Carlin’s five part series, Blueprint for Armageddon, the thing that stood out with Streeton’s paintings was the stories that they told. We are given such a visual impact of conflicts like Syria. However, back then this was left to artists.

French siege gun by Arthur Streeton

Interestingly, the Australia War Memorial has also improved on its depiction of war, creating models.

Listened New insights about what happened at Pompeii from Radio National
How do you correctly interpret a site that was initially unearthed so long ago? Modern archaeology provides new tools to chip away at the secret.


Matt Smith speaks with Dr Estelle Lazer, Dr Eric Poehler, Dr Gillian Shepherd and Dr Steven Ellis about learning with and from Pompeii. With 250 years of archaeological work, we can now gain new insights about Pompeii by investigating the way in which early archeologists collected evidence. Technology is also providing a new way of preserving the past through the creation of a digital map.

Bookmarked Books on the History of Education Technology by Audrey Watters (The Histories of Education Technology)
I have created a page that lists some of the titles. It does not include works of sociology or guides on instructional design. It also does not include "books from history," that is books written by notable historical figures in the field.
Replied to HEWN, No. 259 by Audrey Watters (Tinyletter)
The question of whose story gets told is always an interesting one, I suppose, particularly in science and technology. And I can’t help but wonder not only what happened to Crowder but what’s going to happen to the (education) technologists of today. How will they be remembered? (And what are the archival materials we’ll turn to to study them?)
This is a really important point Audrey. I have been spending time collecting and curating what updates and information from Google and Hapara, two platforms that are at the core of our learning strategy. So often ‘updates’ come in the form of a revision of support material. There are no dates or details, just how tos. Even if they try to tell a story, this is often quite disparate.
Liked The Paradox of Universal Basic Income by Joi Ito (WIRED)
Touted as an elegant solution to the problem of poverty in America and the impending decimation of jobs by automation, UBI is a hot topic today in the “salons” hosted by tech and hedge-fund billionaires. The idea of UBI in fact is an old idea, older than me even: Either through direct cash payments or some sort of negative income tax, we should support people in need—or even everyone—to increase well-being and lift society overall. Interestingly, this notion has had broad support from conservatives like Milton Friedman and progressives such as Martin Luther King Jr. On the other hand, UBI also has been criticized by conservatives as well as liberals.