Posts Tagged ‘futurity’
* Does the BBC want Moffat off Who? Well, then, I guess that’s pretty much everyone.
* The AV Club argues the American Office, to the end, was a great television show about how terrible love can be.
* But it’s not only the Globe. This failure is repeated across the mainstream media landscape — the product of a mindset in which climate change is simply another environmental problem, albeit a particularly complex one for which we’ll eventually find a technical fix, mainly by doing more or less the same things we’re doing now, only more efficiently and with better technology. It’s nothing to get too excited about. It’s certainly not anything to sacrifice your career over.
* Mark Fisher on affective labor. Warning: The ultimate imagistic reference is pornographic, if that’s unpleasant for you.
Being exploited is no longer enough. The nature of labour now is such that almost anyone, no matter how menial their position, is required to be seen (over)investing in their work. What we are forced into is not merely work, in the old sense of undertaking an activity we don’t want to perform; no, now we are forced to act as if we want to work. Even if we want to work in a burger franchise, we have to prove that, like reality TV contestants, we really want it. The notorious shift towards affective labour in the Global North means that it is no longer possible to just turn up at work and be miserable. Your misery has to be concealed – who wants to listen to a depressed call centre worker, to be served by a sad waiter, or be taught by an unhappy lecturer?
Yet that’s not quite right. The subjugatory libidinal forces that draw enjoyment from the current cult of work don’t want us to entirely conceal our misery. For what enjoyment is there to be had from exploiting a worker who actually delights in their work? In his sequel to Blade Runner, The Edge of Human, K W Jeter provides an insight into the libidinal economics of work and suffering. One of the novel’s characters answers the question of why, in Blade Runner‘s future world, the Tyrell Corporation bothered developing replicants (androids constructed so that only experts can distinguish them from humans). “Why should the off-world colonists want troublesome, humanlike slaves rather than nice, efficient machines? It’s simple. Machines don’t suffer. They aren’t capable of it. A machine doesn’t know when it’s being raped. There’s no power relationship between you and a machine. … For the replicant to suffer, to give its owners that whole master-slave energy, it has to have emotions. … . The replicant’s emotions aren’t a design flaw. The Tyrell Corporation put them there. Because that’s what our customers wanted.”
* And the only way to win is not to play: In part, this is how all solitaire games work. The solitaire aesthetic in general is about taking rational content and form — apparent in the effort to model the range of a T-37 turret gun in the game’s structure — and giving it metaphysical expression and feeling in a game-play design. It is a constructed channel of experience, with clearly defined player operations, yet completely undefined in terms of how the player experiences it. Even though you are rolling a die and consulting a results table, you see the battle in terms beyond paper and dice; your mind creates a narrative in which the enemy is repulsed or surges forth, where a battle-scarred unit makes the break-through or where defeat is quickly assured when a leader is cut down in the opening hellfire of bullets. A string of successful rolls translates into cosmic kismet, failed rolls into a series of punches putting you on the ropes.
* “More toyetic”: The cast and crew of Batman and Robin explain what went wrong.
* Preposterously bad idea watch: Breaking Bad Spin-Off With Saul Goodman In The Works. Has to be a very dry joke on Vince Gilligan’s part.
* What is the political situation in the Mario universe? It is a never-ending condition of war within and war without, fraught and constantly changing as one faction or another vies for control, riven along racial and ideological fault-lines and held together only by the intervention of foreign interlopers, propping up the dominant superpower and whose ultimate motivations are shrouded in secrecy.
* A much larger revenue stream comes from federal student loans—$108,641,000 in 2011. In 2010, NYU had $659 million in total student debt, a figure bigger than the gross domestic product of twelve countries, and it is a national leader in the debt carried by its graduates, at 40 percent more than the national average. According a recent Newsweek ranking, NYU is now the fourth “Least Affordable School” in the United States. And in the latest Princeton Review college rankings, its financial aid and administration ranked first—for being the worst. The projected $5 billion expansion plan is certain to increase the student debt burden. Most of current student loans are federal money, so we can add these on to the public inputs received by this private university at a time when public universities are being put to the sword.
* Reframing the statement “don’t go to graduate school” to one that fully addresses the attack on tenure helps us to see and recognize each other, and our labor. I think it also helps us to identify new partners who might be able and interested in challenging or modulating some of the forces at work in educational restructuring.
* Guess Who Waits Longest to Vote? You’ll never guess!
* Authorities are still investigating how the younger child obtained the .22-caliber rifle: New Jersey 4-year-old shoots 6-year-old neighbor in the head.
* And I think I remember this movie: Lockheed Martin Harnesses Quantum Technology.
Lots of Thursday Links! The University in Ruins, How to Predict the Future, Lesbian Science Fiction, and More
* Cause of windfarm sickness identified: it’s spread by human mouth.
* “If our universe was a simulation you could totally tell. There’d be things like a fastest possible speed or a smallest possible size or a lowest possible temperature, or events wouldn’t actually be computed until they were observed by a player (you know, for computational efficiency).”
“During a summer in the late 1960s I discovered an easy and certain method of predicting the future. Not my own future, the next turn of the card, or market conditions next month or next year, but the future of the world lying far ahead. It was quite simple. All that was needed was to take the reigning assumptions about what the future was likely to hold, and reverse them. Not modify, negate, or question, but reverse.”
* The number of Purdue administrators has jumped 54 percent in the past decade—almost eight times the growth rate of tenured and tenure-track faculty. “We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible,” says Robinson. “Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?”
* Wayne State University and the University of Michigan could lose 15 percent of their state funding if the schools ratify new union contracts that bypass Michigan’s new right-to-work law under a House Republican budget proposal introduced Tuesday.
* It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.
* In this sense, frighteningly, the MOOC seems like the next logical frontier in the increasing contingency and “adjunctification” of labor in higher education. Faculty unions in California are already arguing that MOOCs might do some serious damage to collective bargaining agreements, as some faculty have already agreed to assemble MOOCs for free. But to get even more apocalyptic than that, it seems like this specter of the cyberteacher – emerging from the shadows of the murky MOOC lagoon – is some dystopian icon of the brave new cost-cutting educational future. What better way to cut labor costs in higher education than to simply replace human educational laborers with software?
* “I believe we’re in the best basketball conference in the country right now. If you look at the history of the schools, the original seven plus the new three, it’s obviously an elite group,” Father Pilarz said. “The new conference offers a tremendous opportunity for all 16 of Marquette’s athletic programs to compete against mission-driven and like-minded institutions.”
* A minimum wage worker in California must toil about 130 hours a week in order to feasibly afford a two-bedroom rental, a new report found.
* But journalists deserve a share of the blame, too—and not only for the failure to question more skeptically the Bush Administration’s claims about Saddam’s non-existent WMD. Journalists failed, above all, to show the war as it was. Americans who did not serve may think that they have some idea of what the war in Iraq was like, but they’re wrong. The culprit here is a culture of well-intentioned self-censorship that refuses to show the real conditions of modern warfare.
* Klein doesn’t think a state invaded another state; he thinks “we” went to war. He identifies with the state. Whether he’s supporting or dissenting from a policy, he sees himself as part of it. He sees himself on the jeeps with the troops. That’s why his calls for skepticism, for not taking things on authority, ring so hollow. In the end, he’s on the team. Or the jeep.
The goal of the game, which will officially be launched on Feb. 5, is to show how hard and frustrating it was for an average person to simply do their shopping under the Communist regime in Poland. The game has been developed by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), a Warsaw-based research institute that commemorates the suffering of the Polish people during the Nazi and Communist eras.
* Life advice from the Onion: Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.
* The kids aren’t all right: In Survey, Professors See a Lack of Professionalism Among Students
* Professional wrestling fans, we who are “smart marks” especially, are in many ways more sophisticated than the political junkies who populate political blogs and web sites (what are really fan boy and fan girl mark hangouts) like the Free Republic or The Daily Kos. They know that professional wrestling is a work and a game.
* Two bad tastes that taste good together: Rand Paul filibusters drones.
* Apocalypse now: The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show.
* The entrapment defense rarely succeeds, both in terrorism cases and more quotidian (usually drug-related) prosecutions, largely because “entrapment” means something very different in a courtroom than it does in ordinary usage. For nearly a century, the federal courts have allowed a criminal defendant to dodge criminal liability by showing that the governmentinduced her to commit an unlawful act. Once the accused makes such a showing, however, the government still has the opportunity to prove that she was predisposed to commit the crime, even before government agents entered the picture. If a jury accepts the government’s characterization, other factors—the nature or size of the “bait,” the complexity of the government artifice, or the independent wherewithal of the defendant to commit the crime—basically don’t matter: the defendant is still guilty. This means that when entrapment is at issue, the personality, reputation, criminal history, and political or religious beliefs of the accused become the centerpiece of the trial. Post-9/11 juries have had little trouble concluding that the disaffected Muslims (and occasional anarchists) ensnared by the FBI have been sufficiently “predisposed” to engage in terrorism.
* #slatepitches: What SimCity Teaches Us About Real Cities of the Future.
* Ephemeral third ring of radiation makes appearance around Earth. If we lived in a comic book, I bet this story would be fifteen times as awesome.
* And the latest issue of The New Inquiry posits time is the fire in which we burn.
The headline reads, “3D Meat Printing Company CEO Refuses to Print Human Flesh.”
* A team of scientists led by chemist Richard Kaner had just finished devising an efficient method for producing high-quality sheets of the Nobel-prize winning supermaterial known as graphene — with a consumer-grade DVD drive. That was groundbreaking in and of itself, but the real surprise came when Maher El-Kady, a researcher in Kaner’s lab, wired a small square of their high quality carbon sheets up to a lightbulb.
* More massive profits for banks. I guess the crisis really is over!
* Tennant says he’s starting to ‘give up hope’ for Who 50th return. You bastards. This was a gimme.
As a computing education researcher, I find MOOCs to be a fascinating and promising educational technology. Replacing whole courses (has San Jose State University has decided to do), let alone whole universities, with a mostly untested and unproven technology seems premature. Starting from three research questions that I’m particularly interested in, here is I would like to know before we bow to our MOOC overlords…
* The more I think about the xMOOCs in terms of power relations, the more I note that they preserve and consolidate those of traditional academia. They take the sedimented prestige and name-brands of elite institutions and open up new markets for them, even while undermining many of the structures that those institutions have operated on for generations. The xMOOCs convert the capital carried by academic reputation into new value, at a new scale, in new forms.
But over time, an approach where users exchange information from each other similar to Facebook or telecommunications (a “facilitated network model”) will come to dominate online learning. This evolution is especially likely to happen if the traditional degree becomes irrelevant and, as many predict, learning becomes a continuous, on-the-job learning process. Then the need for customization will drive us toward just-in-time mini-courses.
It really couldn’t be simpler:
MOOCs deploy the rhetoric of innovation and "the future," but I find they're really a fantasy about the end of history.—
Gerry Canavan (@gerrycanavan) February 17, 2013
MOOCs are how you'd structure higher education if you believed there were no future.—
Gerry Canavan (@gerrycanavan) February 17, 2013
These tweets got a lot of attention over the weekend, so I wanted to take a minute and expand a bit on why I think this is the case. On some level, after all, this seems like a calculatedly perverse thing to say; as we all know, MOOCs are the one and only future of a higher education system that is otherwise doomed. Doomed! And don’t they use computers, and the Internet? What could be more future-oriented than that?
But MOOCs actually register an end-of-history fantasy in at least three ways:
(1) First, the most basic economic justification for MOOCs assumes that the funding conditions of the current financial downtown (2008-) will never reset. Colleges, we are repeatedly told, are to face ever-declining budgets from this moment forward forever. There will never be any period of expansion and growth again; consequently “we must all learn to do more with less.” From my perspective this supposedly urgent need to upend the basic assumptions that have governed university life over its centuries-long history — of which the MOOC is but the most salient example — is both a hyper-reaction to temporary vibrations in the economic cycle and an unnecessary surrender to a shock-doctrine rhetoric of permanent crisis. Draconian cutbacks to education are a choice we are making, not an historical inevitability or some unyielding law of nature, and a choice we can yet unmake.
But going deeper:
(2) The pedagogical justification for MOOCs derives from a misunderstood belief in the surety and fixidity of current academic knowledge when, in fact, the entire point of the academy is discovery and dialogue. That is: the MOOC assumes we know what there is for us to know, and the only question now is how to package that knowledge in its best possible form for widest dissemination. So we must locate the “most charismatic” professors — but really, why not hire actors? — and have them lecture “deliver content” for huge Internet audiences of 10,000 or more.
But this bears no relationship to what actually goes on in classrooms, at least in the humanities fields in which I’ve spent the last fifteen years. The vitality of our teaching derives not from the recitation of what is certain but from the explorations of questions that are still unsettled and raw. MOOCs presume that nothing new will be produced in research — the entire point is to freeze established “content” in its perfected form — but also that nothing new or worthwhile is produced in the two-way encounter between teacher and student. Neither assumption reflects any college classroom I’ve ever sat in or how we in the humanities teach and learn.
This is at odds, we should further note, with the ecstatic assertions of “disruption” that frequently accumulate around discussions of the MOOC. In fact the MOOC is not a disruptive form but a fundamentally conservative one, flattening academic practice into the playing back of fixed lectures from a handful of professors recorded who-knows-how-long-ago under who-knows-which conditions. The MOOC is, in short, exactly how you’d structure higher education if you believed there was no future, if you believed you were living at the end of history and nothing was ever going to change. It’s in fact the interactive educational experience that is dynamic and radically adaptative, the interactive experience that has the power to disrupt the things both student and teacher think they know for sure.
(3) Parallel to this there is the question of who exactly is supposed to update all these MOOCs, or record new ones, years and decades from now, as will inevitably become necessary. And in some ways this is the crucial point, not just about MOOCs but about neoliberal attempts to defund and deprofessionalize the academy more generally. People working in the academy themselves are commonly complicit in this; we generally treat questions of our own reproduction as a kind of unhappy embarrassment, as if it weren’t necessary for any field of human activity to attend to the replenishment of its own conditions for existence. (Indeed, what’s wrong with the short-term balance-sheets of late capitalism is precisely this failure to attend in any meaningful way to long-term sustainability.) What’s unique about the field of higher education is that it itself is in crucial ways the system of replenishment for so many other fields — the means by which we produce more engineers, writers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, doctors, and so on. But higher education is also the means by which higher education replicates itself, as it must, as any system must. It needs to fulfill both mandates as it goes or the system will collapse.
Articulating the need for more professors in the future — and thus grad students and assistant professors in the present — isn’t any different than doctors recognizing that in each year that comes there will always need to be more med students to replace those doctors who will retire or die. There are children being born today who will someday need college professors. There are children not yet born who will someday become professors for children not yet born! The university requires a rational and sustainable system for replicating itself into the future because there will still need to be a university system after we are all dead.
Failing to account for, and pay for, the continuation and reproduction of a necessary system isn’t economic rationality; it isn’t a hard-nosed commitment to making the tough choices; it’s the exact opposite. It’s living as if there is no future, no need to reproduce the systems we have now for the future generations who will eventually need them. The fantasy that we could MOOCify education this year to save money on professor labor next year, and gain a few black lines in the budget, ignores the obvious need for a higher educational system that will be able to update, replenish, and sustain the glorious MOOCiversity when that time inevitably comes. Who is supposed to develop all the new and updated MOOCs we’ll need in two, five, ten, twenty years, in response to events and discoveries and technologies we cannot yet imagine? Who is going to moderate the discussion forums, grade the tests, answer questions from the students? In what capacity and under what contract terms will these MOOC-updaters and MOOC-runners be employed? By whom? Where will they have received their training, and how will that training have been paid for? What is the business model for the MOOC — not this quarter, but this decade, this century?
In a thousand ways today, all across the world, higher education today is eating its seed corn; MOOCs are just a particularly visible example of this phenomenon.
The answer to this objection, as best as I can tell, is that elite students will still have elite colleges, and their elite professors will just do all the new MOOCs. But this is revealing — against a rhetoric of radically democratizing MOOCs that expand access for all, we find instead a reality of intensifying class divisions in higher education, making the current divide between educational cohorts both formal and permanent while at the same time returning to us the worst aspects of the academy’s past as a luxury only for the rich. It’s also a fundamentally self-defeating explanation for how all this is supposed to work; when pushed to its limit the radical disruption of the MOOC turns out to retain the “rotten tree” of the university after all, just for those who can still afford to pay. To take up Aaron’s hyperextended metaphor once again, from this perspective we might say that the MOOCiversity keeps only the rotten tree, and clear-cuts the rest of the forest.
Of course this is not to say that every MOOC is necessarily bad. Of course not. It seems to me there are plenty of places where this pedagogical model can work quite well; I’ve even heard rumblings on my own campus of limited MOOC-style projects that could (at least potentially) solve real structural problems with core instruction here. I don’t oppose the MOOC form in principle any more than I oppose online classes, or three-hundred-person-lectures, or Wikipedia. There’s a place for multiple pedagogical models in knowledge production, and certainly a place for experimentation. But this fantasy we keep hearing of replacing whole campuses and all courses and all instruction with MOOCs — of doing away with face-to-face and digital-face-to-digital-face instruction entirely, at least for bulk of students and professions — is a fantasy of tearing down the robust university system our society spent centuries building and selling it for scrap. I say we shouldn’t do it.
A Borg Complex is exhibited by writers and pundits whenever you can sum up their message with the phrase: “Resistance is futile.”
The rhetorical function of “MOOC” is this bait and switch: MOOC is a fantasy of potential, a stand-in for what could be, whose possibility makes it unnecessary to produce evidence for its plausibility. This is also why Shirky doesn’t talk about the lightning that’s destroying the rotten tree. He doesn’t talk about what will replace “College” once MOOC’s have destroyed it, or defend the proposition that a world with MOOC’s instead of colleges is a good thing. He just talks about how terrible actually existing college is. The aftermath can take care of itself; the futurologist places his faith in it, but he does not subject it to all that much scrutiny.
* My particular demographic: Study Finds Vegetarians Will Live Longer, Are Boring.
McCrory echoed a crack the radio show host made at gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, a top tier public university. “That’s a subsidized course,” McCrory said, picking up the argument. “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”
I’m certain that those classes more than pay for themselves, as the humanities always do.
* Damn you, President Romney! Office Working to Close Guantánamo Is Shuttered.
* A 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration last week was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends in bullet-scarred Chicago. Meet The 9 Year-Old Girl Who Likely Would Be Alive Today If High-Capacity Magazines Were Illegal. Gaby Giffords’s notes for her testimony before Congress; the video is amazing. There was a mass shooting during her testimony.
* This is what happens when you give people license to unleash their Inner Authoritarian, when you encourage them in thinking that the arbitrary enforcement of irrational codes of behavior designed to keep a labor force unpaid that is making you billions of dollars are somehow on an equal footing with actual criminal and civil law.
* A newly elected Ohio Supreme Court justice who achieved the unlikely feat of ousting an incumbent without accepting any campaign contributions is not wasting any time in asserting his opposition to the death penalty.
* Frank R. Paul art gallery. Yes please.
* A website for the US judicial system states that jurors are “not expected to speak perfect English”: Cat ordered to do jury service.
* It is often claimed that renewables are still too costly and not yet competitive with conventional energy sources. But what costs are incurred when renewable energies are not used? Every day during which potential renewable energy sources are not utilised but exhaustible fossil fuels burnt instead speeds up the depletion of these non-renewable fuels. Using burnt fossil fuels for nonenergy related purposes (e.g. in the petro-chemical industry) in the future is obviously impossible. Thus, their burning – whenever they could have been replaced by renewables – is costly capital destruction. This study concludes that, estimated conservatively, the future usage loss resulting from our current oil, gas and coal consumption is between 3.2 and 3.4 trillion US Dollars per year.
* You are living in a simulation: New $1.6 billion supercomputer project will attempt to simulate the human brain.
* A Russian family that disappeared into the Siberian wilderness in 1936 and had no contact with other people for more than 40 years.
* And an epic game of tag that has been going on for 23 years.
* Neoliberalism watch: Under this plan, financed by Pitney Bowes, the entire Postal Service would become a series of private companies that would process and transport the mail to your US Postal Service Letter Carrier who would deliver it. The rational of this misguided plan is that they can eliminate hundreds of thousands of good union middle class jobs and replace them with low wage and benefit challenged employees . Then disguise it by still having your trusted Letter Carrier still bring it to your door.
* End of history watch: The 14 rules for predicting future geopolitical events.
* And it looks like Republicans are now full-on committed to trying to rig the Electoral College in their favor. Bring on the next manufactured political crisis! Adventure!
State Sen. Dick Saslaw does not mince words about his support for uranium mining. A Northern Virginia Democrat who is also the Senate minority leader, Saslaw says burying the radioactive byproduct known as tailings underground should be a solution to environmental concerns. And he says he can’t be concerned about what might happen 100 [years] from now.
My baby’s selfish decision to start vomiting ruined my plans to finally see The Hobbit. So instead I’ll clear some tabs:
* If you want a vision of the future, imagine me and @adamkotsko arguing about revenge in Tarantino, forever.
* Meritocracy watch, from the archives: In both data sets, Krueger and Dale, like other researchers, find that students who attended more selective colleges tend to earn higher salaries later on than those who attend less selective colleges. However, the researchers not only looked at the schools that students attended but also where they were accepted and rejected. They found that where a student applies is a more powerful predictor of future earnings success than where he or she attends.
* Thomas Frank blames academia for Occupy’s failures. Now the lead editorial of the next Jacobin is devoted to denouncing Frank.
* FBI Considered It’s A Wonderful Life Communist Propaganda. Don’t ever change, you lovable scamps!
* Could a captive tornado power an entire city? What could possibly go wrong?