Help:: Getting Started / Day One [...]

Most people find that using Wikity to bookmark is a good place to start. The following video shows how you can bookmark with Wikity.

Note that in the video the bookmark says ‘Bkmrk’ but in recent versions says ‘Wik-it’. The editor has also been upgraded

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Provenance and Forgery [...]

Most forged art is not very good or well-executed. It succeeds not because of the quality, but because of an invented provenance that turns off the critical mindset of the viewer:

A number of the forgers — more than half — if you just look at their forgeries in a vacuum, it’s surprising that they fooled anyone. Han van Meegeren’s Vermeers don’t look anything like Vermeers, but they managed to fool people. It is always the accompanying story, the invented provenance — which is essentially a confidence trick that manages to pass off the object — that really tricks the buyer. On further inspection, it’s always a surprise that the work itself could fool people. The way they do it is with a very compelling provenance.


Obvious connections here to assessing the quality of arguments or facts.

Also a connection to the fact that most hacks are the result of Social Engineering

More on the Meegeren Vermeers.

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Lunch Isolation [...]

An example of shaming the poor through segregation:

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VO2 Max and Lifespan [...]

Not surprisingly, smoking had the greatest impact on lifespan. It substantially shortened lives.

But low aerobic capacity wasn’t far behind. The men in the group with the lowest VO2 max had a 21 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those with middling aerobic capacity, and about a 42 percent higher risk of early death than the men who were the most fit.

Poor fitness turned out to be unhealthier even than high blood pressure or poor cholesterol profiles, the researchers found. Highly fit men with elevated blood pressure or relatively unhealthy cholesterol profiles tended to live longer than out-of-shape men with good blood pressure and cholesterol levels. (Source)

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Math Anxiety Contagion [...]

A common impairment with lifelong consequences turns out to be highly contagious between parent and child, a new study shows.

The impairment? Math anxiety.

Means of transmission? Homework help.

Children of highly math-anxious parents learned less math and were more likely to develop math anxiety themselves, but only when their parents provided frequent help on math homework, according to a study of first- and second-graders, published in Psychological Science. (Source)

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Four Stages of Solving [...]

Now, using an innovative combination of brain-imaging analyses, researchers have captured four fleeting stages of creative thinking in math. In a paper published in Psychological Science, a team led by John R. Anderson, a professor of psychology and computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, demonstrated a method for reconstructing how the brain moves from understanding a problem to solving it, including the time the brain spends in each stage.

The imaging analysis found four stages in all: encoding (downloading), planning (strategizing), solving (performing the math), and responding (typing out an answer). (Source)

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Beer’s Exile [...]

Stafford Beer, creator of Project Cybersyn, went into a self-imposed exile after the Chilean coup that shattered his dream. Of course, he got to influence Eno and Bowie, so it wasn’t all bad.

Stafford Beer was deeply shaken by the 1973 coup, and dedicated his immediate post-Cybersyn life to helping his exiled Chilean colleagues. He separated from his wife, sold the fancy house in Surrey, and retired to a secluded cottage in rural Wales, with no running water and, for a long time, no phone line. He let his once carefully trimmed beard grow to Tolstoyan proportions. A Chilean scientist later claimed that Beer came to Chile a businessman and left a hippie. He gained a passionate following in some surprising circles. In November, 1975, Brian Eno struck up a correspondence with him. Eno got Beer’s books into the hands of his fellow-musicians David Byrne and David Bowie; Bowie put Beer’s “Brain of the Firm” on a list of his favorite books.

Isolated in his cottage, Beer did yoga, painted, wrote poetry, and, occasionally, consulted for clients like Warburtons, a popular British bakery. Management cybernetics flourished nonetheless: Malik, a respected consulting firm in Switzerland, has been applying Beer’s ideas for decades. In his later years, Beer tried to re-create Cybersyn in other countries—Uruguay, Venezuela, Canada—but was invariably foiled by local bureaucrats. In 1980, he wrote to Robert Mugabe, of Zimbabwe, to gauge his interest in creating “a national information network (operating with decentralized nodes using cheap microcomputers) to make the country more governable in every modality.” Mugabe, apparently, had no use for algedonic meters. (Source)


Anatoliy Ivanovich Kitov, the proposer of Russia’s first cybernetic network, faced similar circumstances after the military mobilized against him. See Economic Automated Management System

Portions of The Brain of the Firm are available here

 

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Ulm School of Design [...]

Apple’s design aesthetic and the crazy Project Cybersyn share a common influence.

Today, one is as likely to hear about Project Cybersyn’s aesthetics as about its politics. The resemblance that the Operations Room—with its all-white, utilitarian surfaces and oversized buttons—bears to the Apple aesthetic is not entirely accidental. The room was designed by Gui Bonsiepe, an innovative German designer who studied and taught at the famed Ulm School of Design, in Germany, and industrial design associated with the Ulm School inspired Steve Jobs and the Apple designer Jonathan Ive. (Source)


See also Project Cybersyn

Beer’s Exile describes post-coup life for the creator of Cybersyn.

Cybernetics in the U.S. had a distinctly hippie flavor. See Techno-pastoralism

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The Cussedness of Things [...]

As Eden Medina shows in “Cybernetic Revolutionaries,” her entertaining history of Project Cybersyn, Beer set out to solve an acute dilemma that Allende faced. How was he to nationalize hundreds of companies, reorient their production toward social needs, and replace the price system with central planning, all while fostering the worker participation that he had promised? Beer realized that the planning problems of business managers—how much inventory to hold, what production targets to adopt, how to redeploy idle equipment—were similar to those of central planners. Computers that merely enabled factory automation were of little use; what Beer called the “cussedness of things” required human involvement. It’s here that computers could help—flagging problems in need of immediate attention, say, or helping to simulate the long-term consequences of each decision. By analyzing troves of enterprise data, computers could warn managers of any “incipient instability.” In short, management cybernetics would allow for the reëngineering of socialism—the command-line economy. (Source)

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Project Cybersyn [...]

Cybersyn aimed to provide market economy responsiveness to a socialist economy through cybernetics.

Project Cybersyn was a Chilean project from 1971–1973 during the presidency of Salvador Allende aimed at constructing a distributed decision support system to aid in the management of the national economy. The project consisted of four modules: an economic simulator, custom software to check factory performance, an operations room, and a national network of telex machines that were linked to one mainframe computer.[2]

Project Cybersyn was based on viable system model theory and a neural network approach to organizational design, and featured innovative technology for its time: it included a network of telex machines (Cybernet) in state-run enterprises that would transmit and receive information with the government in Santiago. Information from the field would be fed into statistical modeling software (Cyberstride) that would monitor production indicators (such as raw material supplies or high rates of worker absenteeism) in real time, and alert the workers in the first case, and in abnormal situations also the central government, if those parameters fell outside acceptable ranges. The information would also be input into economic simulation software (CHECO, for CHilean ECOnomic simulator) that the government could use to forecast the possible outcome of economic decisions. Finally, a sophisticated operations room (Opsroom) would provide a space where managers could see relevant economic data, formulate responses to emergencies, and transmit advice and directives to enterprises and factories in alarm situations by using the telex network. (Source)


Cybernetics was long a dream of communist planners. See
Cybernetic Red Scare, OGAS

Project Cybersyn is connected to Apple via the Ulm School of Design

The failure of the Chilean government led to Beer’s Exile

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Networks Without ARPA [...]

Without ARPA’s funding, vision, and project management, there would have been less R&D in computer networking, but even so, there would have still been many pockets of work in the field. What would have been absent is the role of government as a neutral steward of the evolving network. So in my imagined scenario, information networks, instead of being designed by the users themselves, empowered by the open TCP/IP platform, are designed by the telecommunications industry. Now, instead of an Internet, there is a balkanized tapestry of many competing proprietary systems largely controlled by telco service providers.

Each country has its own system, and the browser and the World Wide Web never evolve as such. Telephones have built-in displays and log in automatically to the local service provider, where users immediately encounter an enormous tree of menus. Fees are charged by the bit and for selected interactions, so the service is relatively expensive and usage is sparse. With the low participation, regionalization, and tight control of information services, national brands do not emerge—no Google, Amazon, or Facebook.

Well, all this seems like a bad dream, but in truth such a scenario would have been very unlikely. My own belief is that something akin to today’s Internet would have been so compellingly attractive that it would have emerged from some alternative pathway through the swirling chaos of actions and interactions.

But we’ll never know. (Source)

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A Better Status Email [...]

Then I got to Zynga in 2010. Now say what you want about Zynga (and much of it was true) but they were really good at some critical things that make an organization run well. One was the status report. All reports were sent to the entire management team, and I enjoyed reading them. Yes, you heard me right: I enjoyed reading them, even if when were 20 of them.

Why? because they had important information laid out in a digestible format. I used them to understand what I needed to do, and learn from what was going right. Please recall that Zynga, in the early days, grew faster than any company I’ve seen. I suspect the efficiency of communication was a big part of that. When I left Zynga, I started to consult. I adapted the status mail to suit the various companies I worked with, throwing in some tricks from Agile. Now I have a simple, solid format that works across any org, big or small. (Source)

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Tech as “Cool Babysitter” [...]

All year, riding to meetings and home from drinks, I have been obsessed with figuring out why I hate the Seamless ads in the New York City subway. “Welcome to New York,” one reads. “The role of your mom will be played by us.” That’s quite a claim. Is Seamless going to tell me it’s not too late to go to law school? A second ad suggests that when I think I’m “angry” I might just be “hungry.” A third ad derides suburbanites, who are “dead” because they live in “Westchester.” The personality is half mom, half teenager: “cool babysitter.” Seamless will let me stay up late, eat Frosted Flakes for dinner, and watch an R-rated movie.

Every time I get an email from Seamless I brace myself for the contents, which include phrases like “deliciousness is in the works” and suggestions that I am ordering takeout because I am at a “roof party” or participating in a “fight club.” Seamless allows that I may even be immersed in an “important meeting,” a meeting so important that I am secretly interrupting it to customize a personal pizza. I picture a cool babysitter, Skylar, with his jean vest, telling me as he microwaves a pop-tart that “deliciousness is in the works,” his tone just grazing the surface of mockery, because I am a loser who must be babysat. (Source)

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Creeping Playfulness [...]

In Lipstick Traces, an alternative map of 20th-century cultural history, Greil Marcus excerpts the 1977 shareholder report by Warner Communications, which noted that “entertainment has become a necessity.” This was an accurate statement, one that Marcus identified as a warning. Yet neither he nor the Warner executives could have prophesied its corollary, that we would become unable or unwilling to meet our needs without also being entertained. When we learn to expect playfulness from mundane tasks like ordering food or finding a pharmacy, or when we won’t go swimming without a Pokéchaperone, the result is a state of unsuspecting childlikeness, while adults wait in the woods to take their profits. My frustration with these apps only tells me I’m becoming the child they’re informing me I am. That’s the scary part, a dignity so fragile that a cartoon hamster breaks it (Source)

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Aesthetic of Powerlessness [...]

Via Jesse Baron/Sianne Ngai, cuteness is an aesthetic of powerlessness, which may be used to defuse our deep suspicion of technology which is too powerful.

In her essay “The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde,” Sianne Ngai, a professor at Stanford, theorizes cuteness as an “aesthetic of powerlessness.” In the face of the overwhelming question — “What’s it for?” — a strain of avant-garde art responds by playing up its inutility, she argues. It magnifies its impotence until “it begins to look silly.” Ngai’s concerns, admittedly, weigh heavier than any app or Disney-movie soundtrack: she deals in her essay with Beckett, Adorno, and Stein. But one of her key observations, that we tend to read cuteness as evidence of “restricted agency” rather than as evidence of concealed and significant power, proves useful when looking at the visual language of apps. (Source)


Baron sees this a an input into Post-Dignity Design

Kawaii, a form of adult-accepted cuteness, arose in tech-saturated cultures.

In tech, we have a Preference for Female Voices

Facebook is Prioritizing Baby Pictures

 

Post-Dignity Design [...]

We’re in the middle of a decade of post-dignity design, whose dogma is cuteness. One explanation would be geopolitical: when the perception of instability is elevated, we seek the safety of naptime aesthetics. Reading about the mania for adult coloring books, a proof so absurd that the New York Times has published four articles about it, you find that some colorers can’t get to sleep without filling in a mandala on paper, while others need “a special time when we’re not allowed to talk about school or kids.” Adulthood stretches pointlessly out ahead of us, the planet is melting off its axis, you will never have a retirement account. Here’s a hamster. That would be the demand-side argument, where the consumer’s fears set the marketer’s tone. That would also be false. The real power lies on the supply side: Hammy wasn’t born in our fantasies, but in a Silicon Valley office. (Source)

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Laws Can Spur Innovation [...]

Why did Adler’s automatic speed-control system fail? The technology seemed to work, although we can easily imagine its imperfections. What would happen if the device on the car malfunctioned, for example? And what would prevent drivers from simply disabling it? But the barriers to Adler’s system were not primarily technical. What ultimately doomed it was the lack of laws and governmental organizations to mandate the system’s use.

On 3 February 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. agency created in 1966 to oversee car safety standards, announced that it was considering requiring vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technologies on all cars sold in the United States. “This technology would improve safety by allowing vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether,” the press release announcing the decision stated. Since then, the agency has worked steadily to promote the technology and the regulation that would make such systems a reality. Many automotive experts believe that the logical next steps after V2V communication will be smart roads and autonomous vehicles, such as Google’s self-driving cars.

Tech companies and carmakers are working hard to bring about this automotive future. And yet, when that future arrives, it will largely be because of federal laws, first passed in the 1960s, that controlled automotive design and highway construction. While today’s carmakers introduce new safety technologies—airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control, rearview backup cameras—into luxury lines as sellable features, typically federal action is needed to push such technologies into all new vehicles. Such laws did not exist in Adler’s day. He was indeed ahead of his time, but as his case so poignantly shows, the success of an innovation often depends as much on the quality of our institutions as it does on the quality of the technology itself. (Source)

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Sonically Activated Traffic Signal [...]

Previous to pressure plates becoming the way to trigger stoplights, a simple proposal had a driver honk their horn to get the signal to turn.

He didn’t give up on trying to automate traffic safety, however. He continued to develop car safety devices, and in the late 1920s, he had minor success with a sonically actuated traffic signal. When a driver pulled up to a red light, honking the horn would make the light change. The system was intended for use at intersections where lightly traveled roads met major thoroughfares and where the traffic light needed to change only when a driver had to cross. (Source)

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Advert-funded Speed Control in the 1920s [...]

But Adler had misunderstood the basic nature of the conference. Hoover eschewed federal regulation, preferring to let corporations and state and local governments take action voluntarily; he’d created the conference in this spirit. Even if he’d felt otherwise, no federal law or rule gave Hoover the power to regulate automotive design or highway construction. Adler’s invention required coordination among several levels of government and the car industry. Without an authority to mandate speed governors in automobiles and magnetic plates in roads, the system wouldn’t function. Federal regulations over automobiles and highways wouldn’t become law for another 40 years.

Adler was undeterred. By May 1925, he’d gathered a group of financial backers. On the heels of his successful December 1925 test, he continued to demonstrate the system for journalists, signal makers, police chiefs, state motor-vehicle administrators, and potential investors. He suggested that local authorities could defray the cost of installing the magnets by selling advertising space on the same signs that warned drivers of the danger points. He argued that the installation of speed governors could be made a requirement in annual vehicle inspections. (Source)

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Post-Heroic Inventors [...]

Adler knew he’d have to spend considerable energy promoting his idea. He belonged to what the historian Eric Hintz has called the “post-heroic” generation of inventors, who followed on the heels of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Though the public still revered such engineering icons, being a lone inventor in the early 20th century was hardly glamorous. By then, large corporations were internalizing the act of invention by creating R&D labs. As organized research became the order of the day, independent inventors increasingly looked to license their patented creations, rather than attempting to manufacture the technology themselves. Corporations were naturally reluctant to license outside technologies—why else have an internal R&D lab?—so inventors had to publicize their technologies to have any hope of success. (Source)

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Wig-wag Rail Signal [...]

Adler’s first major project was a new type of flashing signal for grade crossings. At the time, many cars didn’t bother to stop at railroad crossings, with the unsurprising result that about 1,500 people were dying in car-train collisions every year. The eventual solution was to eliminate grade crossings wherever possible by placing rail lines above or below the road. In the meantime, the American Railway Association (ARA), the trade group for the U.S. railroad industry, directed its member companies to install some sort of flashing light at such intersections.

The system that Adler designed was triggered automatically by the train as it approached the intersection. Two lights would flash in an alternating pattern, known as a wigwag, which mimicked the way a man swinging a lantern might warn oncoming cars. Adler’s flashing signal received the ARA’s endorsement, and more than 40 railroad companies adopted it. (Source)

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Speed Control in 1925 [...]

On a cool December day in 1925, Charles Adler Jr. stood beside Falls Road, a state highway on Baltimore’s north side. He was there to test his latest invention: an electromagnetic apparatus that would automatically slow cars traveling at unsafe speeds. Adler had embedded magnetic plates in the road where it led into a precarious curve, and he was now waiting for a specially prepared car to drive over the magnets. The magnets would activate a speed governor connected to the vehicle’s engine, slowing it to 24 kilometers per hour.

Adler had developed this automatic speed-control system for railroad crossings, the scene of many deadly accidents at the time. But he soon came to imagine all sorts of applications for it: “Dangerous road intersections, streets on which schools are located, bad curves, and even steep down grades,” according to an article in the Baltimore News. (Source)

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Prudence, not Caution [...]

Comedian Dana Carvey famously imitated George H.W. Bush with the line “Wouldn’t be prudent!” Prudence is commonly thought of as caution, but it has an older, richer meaning in ethical and political theory. A prudent man knows not only concepts of right action and conduct, but also has experience, sound judgment, and practical wisdom that he draws from to make the right decision in real-world situations. Prudence, under this definition, is one of the highest virtues. It is time for responsible Republicans to put nation before party, and endorse Hillary Clinton for president. (Source)

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The Invisible Primary [...]

The invisible primary is a product of the presidential nominating reform that was instituted in 1972. The reform grew out of the bitter 1968 Democratic nominating race, which was fought against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. The anti-war challenges of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy drove President Lyndon Johnson from the race. Yet, party leaders, who controlled most of the convention delegates, picked Vice President Hubert Humphrey as the presidential nominee even though he had not entered a single primary. Insurgent Democrats were outraged, and after Humphrey narrowly lost the general election, they engineered a change in the nominating process. State parties were instructed to choose their convention delegates through either a primary election or a caucus open to all registered party voters.

The reform had obvious appeal. What could be more democratic than giving control of presidential nominations to the voters?  Reformers did not foresee the extent to which the new system would be brokered by the news media and failed to account for journalists’ limitations as a political intermediary. They are not in the business of sifting out candidates on the basis of their competency and platforms. They are in the business of finding good stories. Donald Trump was the mother lode. During the invisible primary, the press gave him what every candidate seeks — reams of coverage. In his case, even the media’s attacks were a boon. Many Republicans dislike the press enough that its attacks on one of their own are nearly a seal of approval. (Source)

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Yankees and Cubs [...]

There’s only one problem: Hillary really was a fan of both the Cubs and the Yankees. And she really was a big baseball fan as a kid. Bob Somerby collects the evidence today. Here’s a childhood friend reminiscing about her in 1993, six years before New York was even a twinkle in Hillary’s eyes:

“We used to sit on the front porch and solve the world’s problems,” said Rick Ricketts, her neighbor and friend since they were 8. “She also knew all the players and stats, batting averages—Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle—everything about baseball.”

And this, in a 1994 story about a White House party for documentarian Ken Burns when he released “Baseball”:

“That was a great swing,” Burns told her. “Did you get some batting practice before the screening, just to warm up?” Mrs. Clinton, who as a kid was a “big-time” fan of the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees and “understudied” Ernie Banks and Mickey Mantle, smiled.

How about that? Hillary was telling the truth the whole time. Hard to believe, isn’t it? (Source)

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Positive Early Coverage [...]

> Of all the indicators of success in the invisible primary, media exposure is arguably the most important. Media exposure is essential if a candidate is to rise in the polls. Absent a high poll standing, or upward momentum, it’s difficult for a candidate to raise money, win endorsements, or even secure a spot in the pre-primary debates.

Some political scientists offer a different assessment of the invisible primary, arguing that high-level endorsements are the key to early success.[1] That’s been true in some cases, but endorsements tend to be a trailing indicator, the result of a calculated judgment by top party leaders of a candidate’s viability. Other analysts have placed money at the top.[2] Money is clearly important but its real value comes later in the process, when the campaign moves to Super Tuesday and the other multi-state contests where ad buys and field organization become critical.

In the early going, nothing is closer to pure gold than favorable free media exposure. It can boost a candidate’s poll standing and access to money and endorsements. Above all, it bestows credibility. New York Times columnist Russell Baker aptly described the press as the “Great Mentioner.”[3] The nominating campaigns of candidates who are ignored by the media are almost certainly futile, while the campaigns of those who receive close attention get a boost. Ever since 1972, when the nominating process was taken out of the hands of party bosses and given over to the voters in state primaries and caucuses, the press has performed the party’s traditional role of screening potential presidential nominees—deciding which ones are worthy of the voters’ attention. As Theodore H. White wrote in The Making of the President, 1972, “The power of the press is a primordial one. It determines what people will think and talk about—an authority that in other nations is reserved for tyrants, priests, parties, and mandarins.”[4] (Source)

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Type of Coverage [...]

The report shows that during the year 2015, major news outlets covered Donald Trump in a way that was unusual given his low initial polling numbers—a high volume of media coverage preceded Trump’s rise in the polls. Trump’s coverage was positive in tone—he received far more “good press” than “bad press.” The volume and tone of the coverage helped propel Trump to the top of Republican polls.

The Democratic race in 2015 received less than half the coverage of the Republican race. Bernie Sanders’ campaign was largely ignored in the early months but, as it began to get coverage, it was overwhelmingly positive in tone. Sanders’ coverage in 2015 was the most favorable of any of the top candidates, Republican or Democratic. For her part, Hillary Clinton had by far the most negative coverage of any candidate. In 11 of the 12 months, her “bad news” outpaced her “good news,” usually by a wide margin, contributing to the increase in her unfavorable poll ratings in 2015. (Source)

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The U.S. Is Light On Testing [...]

That last statement would shock many parents and activists who believe the opposite. But according to Schleicher’s reading of the data from more than 70 countries, most nations give their students more standardized tests than the United States does. He notes that the Netherlands, Belgium and Asian countries – all high-performing education systems – administer a lot more. “In many countries there is a test going on every month,” he added.

The data come from student and teacher surveys given alongside international exams known as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), given to 15-year-olds around the world. Along with the exam questions, they were asked how frequently they are given standardized tests, for example.

More than a third of 15-year-olds in the Netherlands said they took a standardized test at least once a month. In Israel, more than a fifth said they took a monthly standardized test. In the United States, only 2 percent of students said they took standardized tests this frequently, well below the OECD average of 8 percent. (Source)

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A Little Less Precision [...]

Many advocates believe that adopting such an approach to assessment for all students could spur teaching that aims to encourage thinking and reasoning, rather than just passing a test.

“The bottom line for now is we need to broaden what counts in education, so I’m in favor of moving in this direction even if we lose a little bit of precision to get there,” says Brian Stecher, senior social scientist at the RAND Corporation. (Source)

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Got Their Book [...]

She discovered Concepts of Biology, a textbook offered through OpenStax College, a nonprofit based at Rice University that seeks to make “open-source” textbooks available to students for free online. Fox decided to pilot the textbook this past spring for two online sections of the course that she teaches.

The effort evidently paid off.

Fox reports a 10 percent increase in successful completion of the course over the previous semester in both sections.  “And the reason was students actually got the book,” says Matt Reed, vice president for learning at Brookdale Community College, a Lincroft, New Jersey-based institution where 40 percent of the students are Pell Grant eligible. (Source)

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Free College and the Forgotten Majority [...]

Free college has become the banner headline for Democrats in an effort to attract the energetic, debt-ridden millennials who flocked to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

During the Republican and Democratic conventions, The Hechinger Report will publish a new story each day, examining what the party proposals might mean for the future of education. Our staff reporters will provide education coverage from Cleveland and Philadelphia. READ MORE

But what about the 8 million adult college students struggling to complete a degree, and the millions of other adults who wish they could go to college but can’t afford it? Most current tuition assistance programs are aimed at recent high school graduates. Yet a majority (60 percent) of 25- to 64-year-olds do not hold at least an associate degree, and the numbers rise to 71 percent and 79 percent for African-Americans and Latinos, respectively. (Source)

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Stern Love [...]

In the era of the self-packaged celebrity, where public image is carefully tailored on social media and authentic candor is rare, the interviews are an almost radical rebuttal to the patty-cake games and singalongs popularized by Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show”

Mr. Stern believes his approach isn’t just better radio, but also better for whatever product his guest is promoting.
Continue reading the main story

“If someone comes in and the audience feels like ‘Oh my god, I love this person,’ they will want to see their movie,” he said. “It’s a strange thing to say to someone trained in P.R., but it’s the God’s honest truth. If someone has an hour to sit and talk about their life and at the end they say, ‘By the way, that’s what brought me to this movie, or to write this book,’ it’s such a powerful vehicle for promotion.” (Source)

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Online Course User Experience: Standards Matter [...]

Research has shown that the design of online courses is an important factor for students learning and success in online courses. “Consistent course design is the most vital factor for students’ interaction and success in a course.”[1]

Most of our daily lives consist of a common understanding of the order of life and things around us. For those of us old enough to remember think back to when Microsoft Windows redesigned their menu system, Windows Vista. Multitudes of Windows users were frustrated and confused with the new design and didn’t know where to find “the old” tools, much less intuit that to shut down you had to click “Start.” Imagine the design changed every time you tapped onto your tablet or smart phone, requiring you to reorient to the new interface and relearn where your information went or how it was structured. Design standards help us understand and make sense of information and to use content without thinking of the context.

The same holds true for students in online courses. Courses that are designed to a standard online design allow the student to concentrate on the content, not on thinking about the context or hunting for the information. (Source)

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Street view hauntings [...]

Google Street View, a Google Maps feature that allows visitors to see panoramic street-level views of a property, had captured Dad working in the yard – apparently oblivious that a Google car had just passed him. There he was in his white shirt, white shorts, white shoes with white socks.

There he was, totally in his element. How we wished he were still there.

At the time, I told the story to everyone, and posted on social media about his Google Street View encounter. And I frequently visited him online – logging on to introduce him to his grandchildren, but mainly just to make sure he was still there.

(Source)

Note: I love this story because we all have versions of it. All space is haunted in this way when we recognise presence in time as separate from our own human mortality.

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Compassionate narrative [...]

> Compassion requires emotional connection, role exchange, empathy, experimentation and exploration of people’s world views and experiences, their perspectives on what troubles them beyond the illness label, and a shift of the professional gaze to the person’s location in a social world of relationships and a life-course legacy of risks which include genetics and life events, and current contextual impacts. A remarkable positive consequence is that the practitioner feels that they can perform their professional role with their full range of skills, and without a conveyor-belt culture of processing and outcome measurement, before and after unthinking intervention. The sense that the system we work in is not socially inclusive, and transmits inequity, as only the most able remain engaged and effective consumers, erodes the ethos of professionals. The skill of exploring the personal biographies and narratives of patients requires flexible and reflexive awareness by professionals of their own histories, and therefore connection with the true self rather than alienation from one’s ethos and values. (Source)

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Markdown Syntax [...]

Wikity allows people to use standard WYSIWYG editing, but encourages frequent users to take a few minute to learn Markdown syntax, and use Markdown where possible. Using Markdown will:

  • Dramatically improve your writing speed
  • Keep you focused on the content instead of the layout
  • Ensure your work is portable across many platforms
  • Avoid classic HTML gotchas

Markdown is a widely used standard used by millions of people to quickly write and edit documents. We use a brand of Markdown called GitHub-flavored Markdown. (Link)

To work in Markdown, just open the text tab of your visual editor and type, using the small number of indicators for things like emphasis and extra emphasis. You can also do lists:

  • Like
  • This

Here’s how that looks:

To work in Markdown, just open the text tab of your visual editor and type, using the small number of indicators for things like *emphasis* and **extra emphasis**. You can also do lists:

* Like
* This

You can add links: for example, Linked Word, as well as blockquotes:

This is a blockquote.

Here’s how that works:

You can add links: for example, [Linked Word](http://www.google.com/), as well as blockquotes:

> This is a blockquote. 

Long links can use a “keyword” syntax that allows you to move them to the bottom of the page.

You can add links: for example, [Linked Word][myref], as well as blockquotes:

> This is a blockquote. 

[myref]:http://www.google.com/

Because this is Wikity, if you see something on a page that you want to do you can always copy the page and look at the source.

For instance, if you want to see how to do a Special Term like this, just edit and view the source.

Same with this table:

Yes No
Votes 103 91

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Ephemeral Messaging vs. Disaggregating Identity [...]

This desire for these apps comes from the unnatural state of current online social communication. In real life, all communication happens within a context and people only have a limited identity in that context.

When I am teaching my class, I use my teacher qualifications. When I am reviewing a restaurant, I want to share the fact that I dine out frequently. When I am talking politics, it is relevant to know if I am liberal or conservative. What mainstream social networks lack is the ability to utilize only the relevant subset of your identity in online communications.

Outside of celebrities and other brands, there is little benefit from being fully identified in every conversation. If I am sharing tech gossip, it is much more useful for my audience to know that I am a high-tech CEO, rather than to know my actual name and entire conversation history.

When I am reviewing a recent Amazon delivery, my professional background is irrelevant. The ideal way to handle the retention of personally identifiable information is to simply not collect it in the first place.

Therefore, if aggregating identity is not useful, we are left wondering why all social networks put so much emphasis on this. It is because these networks are not in the business of enabling effective communication. Their actual business is in collecting users’ personal information and selling it to the highest bidder. Their advertisers are their customers, not the people who use their products (Source)

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Cultural appropriation as preservation [...]

Two Tumblr users, one of Eyak descent, one of Cree descent, offer alternate ways of thinking about cultural appropriation.

One argues that the usage of motives and styles from the person’s culture is a form of preservation, as it is dying out (less than 500 Eyak remain).

The other gives an account of growing up in the Cree culture learning its craft while putting a personal spin on it (ie. practicing a dynamic culture) – and being surprised how other people view native art as being more or less precise (ie. seeing culture as static).

The two voices are refreshing to hear in the discussion of cultural appropriation, which seem to be very binary most of the time.

Found in Charlies Loyds newsletter.

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Get Wikity [...]

Wikity is a personal note-taking tool for students and writers. It allows you to take notes, collect bookmarks, and even upload photos into a shareable web repository.

Wikity differs from other note-taking tools in two major ways.

Connections: First, Wikity borrows from the lessons of wiki, and allows you to connect your notes into a web. Connect relevant ideas and examples using simple wiki links. Use library view find and make connections.

Sharing: You’re perfectly welcome to use Wikity in a personal and private mode. Just go to your “Settings:: Publishing” page and set the “OPEN” property to “No”. Your pages will be hidden from the world. But for those that want to share their notes, Wikity offers a neat feature. Not only can people see each other’s notes, but you can also copy notes you like from other people’s sites into your own, where you can connect them, edit them, or expand on them.

How to Install Wikity

Wikity runs as a WordPress Theme. To run Wikity, first get a personal WordPress account set up which allows you to upload your own custom themes.

Then download the latest version of Wikity either from the zip file on the Wikity site or from the GitHub repository.

Then upload Wikity like you would any other theme and enable it. That’s it! You’re done.

The Math of Moderates vs. Base Turnout [...]

Many Democrats believe in the “turnout myth” (full disclosure, I used to myself). The myth runs as follows — “triangulators” such as Clinton and Obama run on moderate platforms to capture the moderate vote, but in doing so they lose the excitement of the liberal wings of their party, and ultimately end up with less votes because of depressed base turnout.

As an example of how this could work, liberals point to Republicans, who are said to run more base-focused elections than Democrats and benefit from that. A short tour of the math, however, shows that Democrats can’t afford to sacrifice the middle for the edges.

Self-identified liberalism is growing in America, but still polls at a fraction of support for conservativism.

One way of looking at this: to get to 50% support Democrats have to capture a whopping 75% of the moderate vote, while Republicans only need to capture a small fraction (25%) of the moderate vote to win.

Could base turnout overcome this disadvantage? For Republicans, yes. For Democrats, no. A reasonable increase of turnout in an election might push participation up by 5% in that demographic. The “youth wave” in 2008, for example, was an increase of about 4 percentage points of the under 30 vote, breaking 66/31 for Obama.

In practice, this wave of turnout represented one percentage point in the final results — an increase from 17% of the total vote to 18% of the total vote, and was worth less than one percent of advantage to Obama.

In close elections, that percentage point can make a world of difference, but for Democrats it can only do that if going after that vote does not sacrifice moderate support and turnout. For Democrats, a five percent increase in liberal turnout can be offset by a mere 3.5% decrease in the moderate vote. For Republicans, the opposite is true: an increase in the conservative vote more than offsets losses in moderates, because there are more conservatives than moderates in America.

This is why, despite what we might want, the winning national strategy for the Democratic party has been to run a center-left campaign in a center-right nation.

That’s not to say it’s hopeless to get to further to the left: you’ll notice that slow drift up in self-identified liberals. That drift up largely comes from our party and elected Democrats making the case for liberalism. As we win elections and talk like Democrats we demonstrate that liberalism works. But we do that by getting in office and showing what good governance looks like. We build that narrative with each election we run, but particularly with each person we get in office to demonstrate liberalism in action. Eventually self-identified rates will be high enough that we can run much further to the left. But that time is not now.

 

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The Fractured Left [...]

(Source)

This paper suggests that lower turnout among leftist citizens and the resulting partisan
advantage from mandatory voting could stem from heterogeneous ideology among the left’s
support. With diffuse support, a leftist candidate cannot adopt a political position that
caters to all its supporters. For example, if rightist citizens all agree on lower taxes and
smaller government while leftist citizens are split over protectionism, then we should expect
turnout to be lower among the left. Even though citizens have the same strength of prefer-
ences, some portion of leftist citizens will care less about the outcome of the election, since
no candidate is at their ideal point. (Source)

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Growth of Liberal Identification [...]

Self-identified liberalism has grown steadily since 1992.

Almost all this rise is due to polarization in the Democratic Party: moderates becoming more (self-identified) liberal:

At the same time, it is not clear that this is all due to a shift of belief as much as a reassessment of the term.

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Referendums and Democracy [...]

There is a popular view that the highest form of democracy is a referendum. We want to debunk that myth. Democracy is much more than consulting the people in “yes” or “no” decisions.The Brexit referendum, the Vancouver public transit referendum, the electoral reform referendum in B.C., the California tax referendums, the Quebec sovereignty-association referendums all appeared to be the essence of democracy. A closer look tells us that they violated many of its fundamental principles. (Source)

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Neoliberalism and Competition [...]

One way of understanding neoliberalism, as Foucault has best highlighted, is as the extension of competitive principles into all walks of life, with the force of the state behind them. Sovereign power does not recede, and nor is it replaced by ‘governance’; it is reconfigured in such a way that society becomes a form of ‘game’, which produces winners and losers. My aim in The Limits of Neoliberalism is to understand some of the ways in which this comes about.

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Adaptive Learners, Not Adaptive Learning [...]

Content is the least stable and least valuable part of education. Reports continue to emphasize the automated future of work (pfdf). The skills needed by 2020 are process attributes and not product skills. Process attributes involve being able to work with others, think creatively, self-regulate, set goals, and solve complex challenges. Product skills, in contrast, involve the ability to do a technical skill or perform routine tasks (anything routine is at risk for automation). 

This is where adaptive learning fails today: the future of work is about process attributes whereas the focus of adaptive learning is on product skills and low-level memorizable knowledge. I’ll take it a step further: today’s adaptive software robs learners of the development of the key attributes needed for continual learning – metacognitive, goal setting, and self-regulation – because it makes those decisions on behalf of the learner. (Source)

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Adaptive Learners, Not Adaptive Learning [...]

Content is the least stable and least valuable part of education. Reports continue to emphasize the automated future of work (pfdf). The skills needed by 2020 are process attributes and not product skills. Process attributes involve being able to work with others, think creatively, self-regulate, set goals, and solve complex challenges. Product skills, in contrast, involve the ability to do a technical skill or perform routine tasks (anything routine is at risk for automation). 

This is where adaptive learning fails today: the future of work is about process attributes whereas the focus of adaptive learning is on product skills and low-level memorizable knowledge. I’ll take it a step further: today’s adaptive software robs learners of the development of the key attributes needed for continual learning – metacognitive, goal setting, and self-regulation – because it makes those decisions on behalf of the learner. (Source)

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The Majority Illusion in Social Networks [...]

Social behaviors are often contagious, spreading through a population as individuals imitate the decisions and choices of others. A variety of global phenomena, from innovation adoption to the emergence of social norms and political movements, arise as a result of people following a simple local rule, such as copy what others are doing. However, individuals often lack global knowledge of the behaviors of others and must estimate them from the observations of their friends’ behaviors. In some cases, the structure of the underlying social network can dramatically skew an individual’s local observations, making a behavior appear far more common locally than it is globally. We trace the origins of this phenomenon, which we call “the majority illusion,” to the friendship paradox in social networks. As a result of this paradox, a behavior that is globally rare may be systematically overrepresented in the local neighborhoods of many people, i.e., among their friends. Thus, the “majority illusion” may facilitate the spread of social contagions in networks and also explain why systematic biases in social perceptions, for example, of risky behavior, arise. Using synthetic and real-world networks, we explore how the “majority illusion” depends on network structure and develop a statistical model to calculate its magnitude in a network. (Source)

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Real Americans [...]

If you’re one of these “real Americans,” you’re in the majority in almost every respect. Most Americans are white, most are Christian, most don’t have college degrees, and most live in the South or Midwest Census Bureau regions. And yet, only about 1 in 5 voters meets all of these descriptions.

This helps to explain what seems like a paradox. “Real Americans” overwhelmingly voted Republican in the 2012 election. The differences might be even more pronounced this year. And yet, President Obama won re-election four years ago. And Clinton leads Donald Trump in the polls, albeit narrowly. (Source)

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Trumping Truth [...]

In a study conducted in October,1 researchers presented 507 self-identified Republicans and 986 self-identified Democrats with actual things that Trump had said — some of which were true and some of which were false. The researchers might explain, for instance, that “Trump said that the MMR vaccine causes autism,” or they would simply present the assertion that “The MMR vaccine causes autism.” Then they asked people, “How much do you believe this statement?”

“If we told participants that it was Trump that said the misinformation, Republicans were much more likely to believe it and Democrats were much less likely to believe it,” said Briony Swire2, a Ph.D. candidate in cognitive psychology at the University of Western Australia, who conducted the study with colleagues at MIT and the University of Bristol. On a 10-point scale, Republicans rated the misinformation 4.8 and Democrats 3.2 when it was attributed to Trump. A similar partisan split appeared with the true statements — Republicans were more likely than Democrats to believe factual statements when told that Trump had said them. “People relate to the world with their partisan lens,” Swire said. (Source)

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Exploring the Physical Web [...]

The Physical Web is still pretty new, but the basic idea is that the Physical Web lets you broadcast any URL to the people around you. Awesome, right? The Physical Web lets you anchor URLs to physical places by way of a BLE beacon, effectively allowing you to “park” a webpage, link to a file, etc., wherever you want. It’s kind of like putting your own “Pokémon Go” wherever you want for people to find — except without making them surrender all their data 😉 (Source)

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More Debt, Better Outcomes [...]

The report later cites data showing that Americans with high-debt balances are more likely to own a home than those with smaller balances. Borrowers with high-debt balances typically attended graduate school and earn more than those with just a bachelor’s degree. Borrowers who are delinquent on their student debt—a large share of which owe small balances– are the least likely to buy a home, even compared to those with no student debt at all.

“It is education, not student debt, that drives the persistent differences in homeownership,” the report states. (Source)

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There Is No Student Debt Bubble [...]

Similarly, the White House also strongly refutes any comparison between the housing market bubble and student debt. “Student debt is less likely to make a recession more severe or slow an expansion in the way that mortgage debt may have,” the paper says.

For that, it cites several factors.

For one, student debt is still low as a share of Americans’ disposable income. In 2015, student debt made up 9% of aggregate income, up from 3% in 2003. By comparison, mortgage debt at its peak in 2007 comprised 84% of aggregate income, up 25 percentage points in five years, the report states.  Mortgage debt dropped back down to 61% in 2015.

Secondly, the White House says, “student loan debt is an investment in human capital that typically pays off through higher lifetime earnings and increase productivity.” (Source)

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Defaulters Owe Less [...]

To highlight this divide, the White House points out that borrowers owing the smallest balances are the ones most likely to default. Take the cohort of borrowers who were first required to start making payments on their debt in 2011. Two-thirds of those who defaulted in the following three years owed less than $10,000, the White House says. More than a third of defaulters, 35%, owed less than $5,000. These borrowers owe little because they typically attended college for one or two years and then dropped out. (Source)

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Online Attention as Inferior Good [...]

From The Empirical Economics of Online Attention (2016):

We find that higher income households spend less total time online per week. Households making $25,000-$35,000 a year spend ninety-two more minutes a week online than households making$100,000 or more a year in income, and differences vary monotonically over intermediate income levels. Relatedly, we also find that the amount of time on the home device only slightly changes with increases in the number of available web sites and other devices – it slightly declines between 2008 and 2013 – despite large increases in online activity via smartphones and tablets over this time. Finally, the monotonic negative relationship between income and total time suggests online attention is an inferior good, and we find that this relationship remains stable, exhibiting a similar slope of sensitivity to income. We call this property persistent attention inferiority. There is a generally similar decline in total time across all income groups, which is consistent with a simple hypothesis that the allocation of time online at a personal computer declines in response to the introduction of new devices. (Source)

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Poverty of Attention [...]

“…[I]n an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” (Simon, 1971).

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Settings:: Footer [...]

Original content licensed CC-BY-SA. Articles may contain material under different licenses, check the links, history, and other attribution.

Site proudly powered by WordPress.

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Getting Started: Day One [...]

Most people find that using Wikity to bookmark is a good place to start. The following video shows how you can bookmark with Wikity.

Note that in the video the bookmark says ‘Bkmrk’ but in recent versions says ‘Wik-it’. The editor has also been upgraded

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Settings:: Publishing [...]

These settings are used by Wikity to determine privacy (openness) and publishing schedule.

Please note that putting “Open” to “No” is an experimental feature, providing “good enough” privacy but not great privacy.

SETTINGS:

OPEN: Yes
RSS DELAY: 5 days

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Stewardess Requirements [...]

The 1960s were the golden age of air travel, and working as a flight attendant was one of the most glamorous jobs available for a woman. The criteria were strict: applicants were held to high standards of beauty, and required to be single, under 140 lbs, and between the ages of 20 and 26.

Pan Am:

Of course, the stewardesses were also required to fit nicely into their iconic blue uniforms. They were subjected to regular girdle checks, and even monthly weigh-ins! Anyone who went over the maximum weight was suspended from work without pay until they lost a few pounds. The criteria for appearance were strict, but the stewardesses were more than pretty faces and elegant white gloves. Pan Am was known for its phenomenal on-board food, and the girls were expected to learn silver service and prepare seven courses of French cuisine from scratch while in the air.(Source)

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Wood as clear strings and opaque glue [...]

> The basic idea is that wood can be thought of as two parts:

Cellulose: Strong structural strings which are naturally clear

and

Lignin: a sort of opaque glue that holds all those strong cellulose fibers together

If you can strip away the opaque (and non-structural) parts of the wood (the lignin) and replace it with clear epoxy, then you will have all the strength of the Cellulose fibers, but also be able to see through it!

This instructable shows how to make pieces of transparent wood through an easy process.

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Mechanical Turk wages [...]

52% of Mechanical Turkers earn less than 5$ an hour.

Pew Research Center has done a study of the uses of Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s platform for distributing work requiring human input into small sizes, each done by a “Turker”. Apparently, around half of Turkers earn less than 5$ an hour (39% earn between 5$ and 8$, 8% earn 8$ or more). A typical task pays 10 cents or less.

Only 25% of Turkers use Mechanical Turk for all or most of their income.

gig economy, labor market, minimum wage

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Almost Useless Objects: The Ten Chindogu Tenets [...]

“I despise materialism and how everything is turned into a commodity, things that should belong to everyone are patented and turned into private property. I’ve never registered a patent and I never will because the world of patents is dirty, full of greed and competition.” – Kenji Kawakami, the creator of Chindogu.

Chindogu means “weird tool” in Japanese. Chindogu are objects that are “un-useless” and are a rejection of capitalism and utility.
http://www.chindogu.com/tenets.html. The creators of Chindogu emphasize not only the anarchic potential of objects but also the idea of objects having soul and purity. This makes Chindogu stand out to me more so than, say, Dadaism or Rube Goldberg machines. More on that later…

chindogu-sweep-shoes eyedrop-funnel-glasses baby-mop subway-sleeper

The Ten Chindogu Tenets

Every Chindogu is an almost useless object, but not every almost
 useless object is a Chindogu. In order to transcend the realms of the 
merely almost useless, and join the ranks of the really almost useless,
 certain vital criteria must be met.

It is these criteria, a set of ten
 vital tenets, that define the gentle art and philosophy of Chindogu. Here
 they are:

  1. A Chindogu cannot be for real use
    It is fundamental to the spirit of Chindogu that inventions 
claiming Chindogu status must be, from a practical point of view, (almost) 
completely useless. If you invent something which turns out to be so handy 
that you use it all the time, then you have failed to make a Chindogu. Try
 the Patent Office.

  2. A Chindogu must exist
    You’re not allowed to use a Chindogu, but it must be made. You
 have to be able to hold it in your hand and think ‘I can actually imagine 
someone using this. Almost.’ In order to be useless, it must first be.

  3. Inherent in every Chindogu is the spirit of anarchy
    Chindogu are man-made objects that have broken free from the 
chains of usefulness. They represent freedom of thought and action: the 
freedom to challenge the suffocating historical dominance of conservative 
utility; the freedom to be (almost) useless.

  4. Chindogu are tools for everyday life
    Chindogu are a form of nonverbal communication understandable to
 everyone, everywhere. Specialised or technical inventions, like a
 three handled sprocket loosener for drainpipes centred between two 
under-the-sink cabinet doors (the uselessness of which will only be
 appreciated by plumbers), do not count.

  5. Chindogu are not for sale
    Chindogu are not tradable commodities. If you accept money for one 
you surrender your purity. They must not even be sold as a joke.

  6. Humour must not be the sole reason for creating a Chindogu
    The creation of Chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving 
activity. Humour is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate or 
unconventional solution to a problem that may not have been that pressing 
to begin with.

  7. Chindogu is not propaganda
    Chindogu are innocent. They are made to be used, even though they 
cannot be used. They should not be created as a perverse or ironic comment 
on the sorry state of mankind.

  8. Chindogu are never taboo
    The International Chindogu Society has established certain
 standards of social decency. Cheap sexual innuendo, humour of a vulgar 
nature, and sick or cruel jokes that debase the sanctity of living things 
are not allowed.

  9. Chindogu cannot be patented
    Chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world – they are not 
therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned. As they
 say in Spain, mi Chindogu es tu Chindogu.

  10. Chindogu are without prejudice
    Chindogu must never favour one race or religion over another.
 Young and old, male and female, rich and poor – all should have a free and 
equal chance to enjoy each and every Chindogu.”

 

“If you look at digital products, they all isolate people and leave them in their own small world, depriving them of the joy of communicating with others,” he once said. “I can’t deny that they make life more exciting and convenient, but they also make human relationships more shallow and superficial.” This explains the astounding lack of Kawakami-driven chindogu info online.

From a great Chidogu overview: https://www.tofugu.com/japan/chindogu-japanese-inventions/

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Pruitt Igoe, 1968 [...]

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From Gallery to Gauntlet [...]

Elevators in the infamous Pruitt-Igoe development stopped at the communal spaces on every third floor of the building, on the idea that forcing people to pass through the communal areas to get to their apartments would increase community. In practice this did not work out well. (Source)

Undersized elevators that “skip-stopped” on every third floor increased the personal risk to women and children (especially when things started deteriorating after 1957) by forcing them to reach their apartments through long corridors and narrow staircases. The elevator stop “galleries” themselves—intended to support community association—came to be described by residents as “gauntlets.”

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Defensible Space [...]

Movement begun in the 1970s to design architecture in a way that allowed residents to defend common spaces from outsiders. Advanced by Oscar Newman, the idea was a reaction to the Le Corbusier inspired designs of public housing that failed so horribly in the 1960s.

The St. Louis Pruitt-Igoe development provides an example. Newman describes the dream and the reality:

[By] most eminent architects [it] was hailed as the new enlightenment. It followed the planning principles of Le Corbusier and the International Congress of Modern Architects. Even though the density was not very high (50 units to the acre), residents were raised into the air in 11-story buildings. The idea was to keep the grounds and the first floor free for community activity. “A river of trees” was to flow under the buildings. Each building was given communal corridors on every third floor to house a housing project laundry, a communal room, and a garbage room that contained a garbage chute. (Source)

Reality, however, did not live up to expectations:

Occupied by single-parent, welfare families, the design proved a disaster. Because all the grounds were common and disassociated from the units, residents could not identify with them. The areas
proved unsafe. The river of trees soon became a sewer of glass and garbage. The mailboxes on the ground floor were vandalized. The corridors, lobbies, elevators, and stairs were dangerous places to walk. They became covered with graffiti and littered with garbage and human waste.

Why did this design, which worked well for middle class developments, fail with a lower-class set of residents? Newman points out that middle class people pay a number of people to “defend” internal spaces — a doorman, for instance, a security guard, a common area supervisor. Without the financial support for such positions, these large open spaces were not “defensible” from attack or abuse.

Newman develops an architecture that links most common areas to a few residents at most, requiring passage through private spaces to get to it.

He describes the issues in this documentary:


Related idea: Hostile Architecture

Unintended effects of Pruitt-Igoe led to safety issues. See From Gallery to Gauntlet

There are perhaps some parallels with education here, when we ask why certain models of education don’t work as well in underfunded schools — what paid support is missing?

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The Writer’s Bench [...]

Throughout the history of the New York City subway’s aerosol art movement there were meeting places for writers known as writer’s corners or writer’s benches. The majority of these meeting places were in the subway system.

The last active location was the 149th Street Grand Concourse subway station in The Bronx, on the 2 and 5 IRT lines. It was active from the 1970s until the decline of subway painting in the late 1980s.

Writers from all over the city congregated at a bench located at the back of the uptown platform. They came to meet, make plans, sign black books and settle disputes. The main activity was watching art on the passing trains (known as benching). The writers would admire and criticize the latest paintings.
This station was an ideal location for a writer’s bench for several reasons. It was a station where the 2 and 5 lines converged. The 2 and 5 lines featured some of the most artistic works in the city. The fact that many lay-ups and train yards for the 2s and 5s were located in both the Bronx and Brooklyn made creativity on these lines extremely competitive. An overpass connecting the uptown and downtown platforms was an ideal vantage point from which to view the passing trains.

Since paintings rarely if ever run on trains today, this bench is no longer frequented by writers. Old school New York writers occasionally visit the site for the sake of nostalgia. Writers post 1989 and writers from outside New York City occasionally visit it as a historical location. (Source)

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Love Bench [...]

The Love Bench pulls people together.

Last month, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) installed a single pair of heart-shaped hand straps on one of its lines in hopes of sparking romance among their passengers. However, with Valentine’s Day behind us it seems they aren’t through playing matchmaker.

This time JR Shikoku is strapping on some cupid wings by installing ”Love Love Benches” in two of their stations. The seat of the bench slopes inwards so that no matter how two people sit on it they will quickly be brought together thanks the marvel of gravity.

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Superpowers take time [...]

Mike Caulfield bruger Wikity til at tage noter på en ny måde, som han kalder en superkræft.

Jeg har ikke så meget mere at skrive her, men jeg vil lige prøve at linke til andre sider.

Hvad med denne artikel? Artikel

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Nurture, Culture, and Notes [...]

The study is one of the first to put an age-old argument to the test. Some scientists believe that the way people respond to music has a biological basis, because pitches that people often like have particular interval ratios. They argue that this would trump any cultural shaping of musical preferences, effectively making them a universal phenomenon.Ethnomusicologists and music composers, by contrast, think that such preferences are more a product of one’s culture. If a person’s upbringing shapes their preferences, then they are not a universal phenomenon. (Source)

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(Various) Shades of Grey [...]

A description on how the set of I Love Lucy was optimized for black and white television.

This knowledge of the contrast secret is further revealed in the décor of the sets. These are painted in various shades of grey. props likewise follow the ethical demands of correct contrast, as do the wardrobes of the players. Even newspapers, when they are to appear in a scene, have to be tinted grey. Such overall uniformity of colors or tones in the scenes make rigid demands on the lighting and has resulted in the careful illumination formula which Freund and his gaffers now regular employ in lighting the sets. (Source)

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Planned Obsolescence of Light Bulbs [...]

Planned obsolescence was built into light bulbs very early.

The thousand-hour life span of the modern incandescent dates to 1924, when representatives from the world’s largest lighting companies—including such familiar names as Philips, Osram, and General Electric (which took over Shelby Electric circa 1912)—met in Switzerland to form Phoebus, arguably the first cartel with global reach. The bulbs’ life spans had by then increased to the point that they were causing what one senior member of the group described as a “mire” in sales turnover. And so, one of its priorities was to depress lamp life, to a thousand-hour standard. The effort is today considered one of the earliest examples of planned obsolescence at an industrial scale.

When the new bulbs started coming out, Phoebus members rationalized the shorter design life as an effort to establish a quality standard of brighter and more energy-efficient bulbs. But Markus Krajewski, a media-studies professor at the University of Basel, in Switzerland, who has researched Phoebus’s records, told me that the only significant technical innovation in the new bulbs was the precipitous drop in operating life. “It was the explicit aim of the cartel to reduce the life span of the lamps in order to increase sales,” he said. “Economics, not physics.”

Phoebus is easily cast as a conspiracy of big-business evildoers. It even makes an appearance as such in Thomas Pynchon’s weird-lit classic “Gravity’s Rainbow”: the shadowy organization sends an agent in asbestos gloves and seven-inch heels to seize diehard bulbs as they approach their thousandth hour of service. (“Phoebus discovered—one of the great undiscovered discoveries of our time—that consumers need to feel a sense of sin,” Pynchon writes.) In its day, however, the shift to planned obsolescence was in keeping with the views of a growing body of economists and businesspeople who felt that, unless you dealt in coffins, it was bad business and unsound economics to sell a person any product only once. By the late nineteen-twenties, the repetitive-sales model had become so popular that Paul Mazur, a partner at Lehman Brothers, declared obsolescence the “new god” of the American business élite. (Source)

Medical Pot Laws and Opioid Abuse [...]

They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. (Source)

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First Packet Failure [...]

“This is part of a series of bugs that I have known and loved… What you won’t read is that this packet failed and it failed, it crashed one of the systems, and the reason it failed was one of the systems was expecting carriage-return line feed and the other system was expecting EOL as a line terminator. So this bug has been with us since the very first Internet packet and it still bugs lots of systems today.” (Source)

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Media Literacy [...]

Basic Definition

Media literacy is the ability to ACCESSANALYZEEVALUATECREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication. 

In its simplest terms, media literacy builds upon the foundation of traditional literacy and offers new forms of reading and writing.

Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens.

(source)

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Hyperuniformity [...]

Torquato had been studying this hidden order since the early 2000s, when he dubbed it “hyperuniformity.” (This term has largely won out over “superhomogeneity,” coined around the same time by Joel Lebowitz of Rutgers University.) Since then, it has turned up in a rapidly expanding family of systems. Beyond bird eyes, hyperuniformity is found in materials called quasicrystals, as well as in mathematical matrices full of random numbers, the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum ensembles, and soft-matter systems like emulsions and colloids.

Scientists are nearly always taken by surprise when it pops up in new places, as if playing whack-a-mole with the universe. They are still searching for a unifying concept underlying these occurrences. In the process, they’ve uncovered novel properties of hyperuniform materials that could prove technologically useful.

From a mathematical standpoint, “the more you study it, the more elegant and conceptually compelling it seems,” said Henry Cohn, a mathematician and packing expert at Microsoft Research New England, referring to hyperuniformity. “On the other hand, what surprises me about it is the potential breadth of its applications.” (Source)

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OER as a participatory activity | Saylor Academy [...]

If OER is participatory, then the environment should support and encourage participation

But Saylor Academy would absolutely benefit from infrastructure that would encourage us, our students, our partners, and members of the wider open community to really create the open content we need from the open content that we have. (Source)


The Moodle open book project is a small step toward that (Site)

Which in turn raises the issue of the Reusability Paradox

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Misuse of CC-licensed Photos [...]

The Wikimedia blog post pointed out that this isn’t the first time that CC-licensed photos have been misused in this way. In 2013, Wikimedian Sage Ross found that his photos of Aaron Swartz were being used in news articles around the world: “Of the 42 news articles he examined, only six followed the licence at least in part. Another nine attributed him but not the licences, nine attributed them to a for-profit photo agency, and a final eighteen provided no attribution at all.” (Source)

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Technical Expertise Is Not Major Factor in Startup Success [...]

A quick skim of CB Insights’ collection of 150+ startup post-mortems reveals that only ~5% of post-mortems referenced a lack of technical ability/execution. Most startup failures were caused by building the wrong product, or lacking strong sales skills, or not having a viable business model. The presence or absence of amazing engineers was rarely a factor.

Another way to analyze the value of engineering is to look at highly-valued private companies: Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. These are certainly challenging products to work on today because most software is hard at a large enough scale. However, it’s doubtful that any of these companies needed 10x engineers for their initial launches. 3x or 2x or maybe even 1x engineers would have been sufficient.

There are, of course, some companies with real technical risk: SpaceX, Zoox, Rigetti Quantum Computing, etc. But for a typical consumer app or SaaS tool, technical risk is low enough to be ignored. (Source)

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Premature Optimization [...]

The ability to scale with success is important, but designing products for high scalability from Day 1 is usually a mistake. (“Premature optimization is the root of all evil.” — Donald Knuth) (Source)

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Harmony Explained [...]

Most music theory books are like medieval medical textbooks: they contain unjustified superstition, non-reasoning, and funny symbols glorified by Latin phrases. How does music, in particular harmony, actually work, presented as a real, scientific theory of music?
The core to our approach is to consider not only the Physical phenomena of nature but also the Computational phenomena of any machine that must make sense of sound, such as the human brain. In particular we derive the following three fundamental phenomena of music:

  • the Major Scale,
  • the Standard Chord Dictionary, and
  • the difference in feeling between the Major and Minor Triads.
    While the Major Scale has been independently derived before by others in a similar manner [Helmholtz1863, Birkhoff1933], I believe the derivation of the Standard Chord Dictionary as well as the difference in feeling between the Major and Minor Triads to be original.
    We show to be incomplete the theory of the heretofore agreed-upon authority on this subject, 19th-century Physicist Hermann Helmholtz [Helmholtz1863]: he says notes are in “concord” because the sound playing them together is “less worse” than that of some other notes. But note that, in this theory, more notes can only penalize, some merely less than others, and so the most harmonious sound should be a single note by itself(!) and harmony would not exist as a phenomenon of music at all.
    I intend this article to be satisfying to scientists as an original contribution to science and art, yet I also intend it to be approachable by musicians and other curious members of the general public who may have long wondered at the curious properties of tonal music and been frustrated by the lack of satisfying, readable exposition on the subject. Therefore I have written in a deliberately plain and conversational style, avoiding unnecessarily formal language. (Source)

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Wyoming’s Suicide Problem Is More Than a White Male Problem [...]

“I kept hearing, as I talked to people out here, that it’s all about white men in rural areas, middle-age white men. And it’s true that, statistically, that’s the group most likely to commit suicide,” Pepper said. “But when you start looking at the data, this region of the country leads for men, for women, across all racial groups, across all ethnicities. It’s not just a rural problem, whatever it is is also in urban areas, as well as everywhere in between and across all age groups.”

Pepper thinks that means experts need to look beyond just white men and see what regional factors might explain the problem. Rurality is certainly one, as is the isolation that goes with it; Wyoming is nearly twice the size of New York state but with only 586,000 residents has less than 1/30th the population. She also notes that self-reported depression isn’t higher in the mountains, but alcohol and drug abuse are. Unemployment and low income are associated with high risk of suicide; Wyoming’s employment rate withstood much of the recession of the 2000s, but a recent drop in the prices of oil and minerals, which form the foundation of the state’s economy, is starting to wreak havoc on the finances of many families. There’s also the high rate of gun ownership. (Source)

Digital posters [...]

Digital posters is a term for large images that include words, numbers and simple graphics. They are often seen as the poor relations of infographics.

So what are digital posters good for, as design artifacts? Even Citraro finds it difficult to avoid damning with faint praise. “If neither your message nor your audience is complex, digital posters can be an excellent tool for communicating,” he says. Ah, so if you want to talk simply to simpletons, here’s the ticket! But if you think of digital posters with the same expectations as any other kind of poster—a form of graphic communication that, like any other, contains masterpieces as well as reams of crap—it becomes easier to see what they excel at. “The nature of a digital poster is to effectively convey a simple message without overloading the viewer,” Citraro says.

(Source)

At their best, infographics are a visualisation tool that:

  • Present information in a more compelling way
  • Make a complex subject and make it easier to digest
  • Add to people’s understanding of a topic by introducing an element that copy alone couldn’t easily convey

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Choral Explanations [...]

Choral Explanations is a wiki-like approach to information sharing. It is pluralistic in that multiple answers are desired, and they can (or even should) take different approaches and assume different levels of existing knowledge.

They are less like the answers that appear on like older, transactional sites like Yahoo Answers but more like Stack Exchange or Quora.

Unlike earlier sites, it’s not about the best or first adequate answer. People looking to learn a theory or a skill find seeing the multiple explanations a benefit. Since each response takes a different approach to providing an answer, the reader can read multiple explanations that get at a subject in different ways, at different levels of complexity. Some are nuanced, and some are ridiculously simplified. Some exercise metaphorical thinking, others dive into math, others illustrate with diagrams.

And this approach – multiple routes into the same concept for the learner – is supported by the research. There are no “learning styles”, as we know – no “kinesthetic learners”. But lost in the discussion about learning styles is the research base that shows that most students benefit from multiple approaches into a subject using a variety of styles. Segregating students into different style groups has no effect, but teaching in a variety of ways is quite effective.

The multiple explanations help in other ways too. Like most other users of Quora or StackExchange, I find that the tenuous understanding gathered reading an initial explanation is slowly solidified and clarified as I read subsequent explanations. In fact, this process – reading multiple treatments of the same issue to add nuance to understanding – is a best practice for learners, accommodated and encouraged by this format.

(Source)

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US ebook revenue peaked in 2013 [...]

> After peaking in 2013 at $3.24 billion, eBook revenue declined to $3.20 billion in 2014 and again in 2015 by 11.3% to $2.84 billion. Unit sales also declined by 9.7%, with eBooks now making up 17.3% of the trade book market. (Source)


The growth of ebooks as a percentage of US publisher sales stalled after 2012: Print made moderate gains in 2015

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Decline of Stomach Cancer [...]

Until the late 1930s, stomach cancer was the No. 1 cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Now just 1.8 percent of American cancer deaths are the result of it. No one really knows why the disease has faded — perhaps it is because people stopped eating so much food that was preserved by smoking or salting. Or maybe it was because so many people took antibiotics that H. pylori, the bacteria that can cause stomach cancer, have been squelched. (Source)

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World Science U [...]

Open question based site that gives videos on science.

Immerse yourself
in the world of science
Education for everyone at all levels of interest and knowledge. Learn More. (Source)

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Silence Is in the Contrast [...]

n 2006, Bernardi’s paper on the physiological effects of silence was the most-downloaded research in the journal Heart. One of his key findings—that silence is heightened by contrasts—is reinforced by neurological research. In 2010, Michael Wehr, who studies sensory processing in the brain at the University of Oregon, observed the brains of mice during short bursts of sound. The onset of a sound prompts a specialized network of neurons in the auditory cortex to light up. But when sounds continue in a relatively constant manner, the neurons largely stop reacting. “What the neurons really do is signal whenever there’s a change,” Wehr says.

The sudden onset of silence is a type of change too, and this fact led Wehr to a surprise. Before his 2010 study, scientists knew that the brain reacts to the start of silences. (This ability helps us react to dangers, for example, or distinguish words in a sentence.) But Wehr’s research extended those findings by showing that, remarkably, the auditory cortex has a separate network of neurons that fire when silence begins. “When a sound suddenly stops, that’s an event just as surely as when a sound starts.” (Source)

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Noise Kills [...]

Surprisingly, recent research supports some of Nightingale’s zealous claims. In the mid 20th century, epidemiologists discovered correlations between high blood pressure and chronic noise sources like highways and airports. Later research seemed to link noise to increased rates of sleep loss, heart disease, and tinnitus. (It’s this line of research that hatched the 1960s-era notion of “noise pollution,” a name that implicitly refashions transitory noises as toxic and long-lasting.)

Studies of human physiology help explain how an invisible phenomenon can have such a pronounced physical effect. Sound waves vibrate the bones of the ear, which transmit movement to the snail-shaped cochlea. The cochlea converts physical vibrations into electrical signals that the brain receives. The body reacts immediately and powerfully to these signals, even in the middle of deep sleep. Neurophysiological research suggests that noises first activate the amygdalae, clusters of neurons located in the temporal lobes of the brain, associated with memory formation and emotion. The activation prompts an immediate release of stress hormones like cortisol. People who live in consistently loud environments often experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

Just as the whooshing of a hundred individual cars accumulates into an irritating wall of background noise, the physical effects of noise add up. In 2011, the World Health Organization tried to quantify its health burden in Europe. It concluded that the 340 million residents of western Europe—roughly the same population as that of the United States—annually lost a million years of healthy life because of noise. It even argued that 3,000 heart disease deaths were, at their root, the result of excessive noise. (Source)

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Nightingale’s Noise [...]

Dislike of noise has produced some of history’s most eager advocates of silence, as Schwartz explains in his book Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond. In 1859, the British nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale wrote, “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well.” Every careless clatter or banal bit of banter, Nightingale argued, can be a source of alarm, distress, and loss of sleep for recovering patients. She even quoted a lecture that identified “sudden noises” as a cause of death among sick children. (Source)

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Pockets of Polarization [...]

> On Twitter, for instance, people who tweet about politics tend to tweet primarily at and with people who belong to the same party, creating what one team of researchers called “pockets of political polarization.” (A 2014 study suggested such pockets could become less polarized as they tweeted with other groups, but the jury’s still out on that one.) On Facebook, the average user agrees with the politics of more than three-fourths of her friends. The social network has found that affinity is more pronounced among liberals than it is among conservatives; it’s also found that, because most users signal to the algorithm (through their clicks) that they’re more interested in stories that agree with their politics, the algorithm tends to surface more of that agreeable, re-affirmative content. (Source)

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ADEPT Method [...]

Make explanations ADEPT: Use an Analogy, Diagram, Example, Plain-English description, and then a Technical description.

ADEPT method of learning (Source)

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Utah Suicide [...]

“Last year we were over 600,” said Dr. Todd Grey, the chief medical examiner for Utah. “We’re certainly on track for being over 600 this year. So that means every day, on average, we’re going to see at least one to possibly two suicides.”

SEE ALSO: Most suicides by veterans are by those over the age of 50

A new report shows the youth suicide rate in Utah has nearly tripled since 2007. It is now the leading cause of death among 10 to 17-year-olds in Utah.

“Look at the numbers here folks, these are big numbers,” Grey said. (Source)

Messy In-Betweeness [...]

SF: The tragedy of it was: If only my father—if only all of us—could be ourselves in our own messy in-between category-ness. My father was so much more interesting in an ambiguous state, which she didn’t reach until the last three or four years of her life. Also, she talked to me so much more, saying, “Now that I’m a woman I feel I can communicate more. As a man I felt I couldn’t communicate.” One of the things that gave her real relief was not feeling isolated at the end of her life. The other aspect of how my father found, I wouldn’t say peace, because no one fully changes—toward the end of her life, my father was willing to look into her own past. She was talking a lot more about being Jewish and her family and the history that she had spent so much time covering up. I think that was freeing for her. To stop trying to put on a mask and just begin to confront all the circumstances and historical conditions that shaped who she became. (Source)

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Roust and Balancer [...]

Apps attempt to “fix” your filter bubble. (It won’t work).

We’re not quite there yet, the experts reassure me — and steps could be taken away from that ledge. A social network called Roust, currently in beta, promises to gather an ideologically diverse crowd to “discuss tough topics like politics, religion and social matters.” Opposite the content-blockers of the Internet, extensions like “Balancer” analyze your browsing history and tell you when it skews liberal or conservative. (Source)

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Algorithms Don’t Polarize People, People Do [...]

Facebook claims that individual choice limits exposure to cross-cutting content more than algorithms.

“Individual choice has a larger role in limiting exposure to ideologically cross cutting content [than the News Feed algorithm],” a recent study by Facebook’s own data team ruled. “We show that the composition of our social networks is the most important factor limiting the mix of content encountered in social media.”

Chart showing increasing polarization dating back to the 1970s

In other words, the thing most polarizing people online is people themselves — a phenomenon that the latest string of anti-Trump apps, browser extensions and add-ons would not appear to help. On top of the unfriending site, there’s an iPhone app called Trump Trump that will eliminate the candidate’s name from the websites you’re browsing, as if he didn’t exist. Remove Donald Trump from Facebook will, as its name suggests, scrub the candidate from your News Feed. A mountain of Chrome extensions will replace Trump’s name or picture with a series of other things: “Voldemort,” “your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving” — even the smiling poop emoji. (Source)


Nailing down the ethical responsibilities of algorithms is a part of Algorithmic Accountability

Degree Assortativity characterizes most human networks, and is resistant to inflow of outside ideas.

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Pockets of Polarization [...]

On Twitter, for instance, people who tweet about politics tend to tweet primarily at and with people who belong to the same party, creating what one team of researchers called “pockets of political polarization.” (A 2014 study suggested such pockets could become less polarized as they tweeted with other groups, but the jury’s still out on that one.) On Facebook, the average user agrees with the politics of more than three-fourths of her friends. The social network has found that affinity is more pronounced among liberals than it is among conservatives; it’s also found that, because most users signal to the algorithm (through their clicks) that they’re more interested in stories that agree with their politics, the algorithm tends to surface more of that agreeable, re-affirmative content. (Source)

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Newness and Retweeting [...]

The researchers made a few other telling observations, as well: Most clicks to news stories, they found, were made on links shared by regular Twitter users, and not the media organization itself. The links that users clicked were much older than we generally assume — some had been published for several days, in fact (Source)

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Readerless Sharing [...]

Now, as if it needed further proof, the satirical headline’s been validated once again: According to a new study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute, 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked: In other words, most people appear to retweet news without ever reading it. (Source)

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Breaking and Entering [...]

Empathy, humility, compassion, conscience: These are the key ingredients missing in the pursuit of innovation, Ms. Helfand argues, and in her book she explores design, and by extension innovation, as an intrinsically human discipline — albeit one that seems to have lost its way. Ms. Helfand argues that innovation is now predicated less on creating and more on the undoing of the work of others.

“In this humility-poor environment, the idea of disruption appeals as a kind of subversive provocation,” she writes. “Too many designers think they are innovating when they are merely breaking and entering.”

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