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Notable readings of the day 05/18/2011

May 18, 2011
  • tags: culture multiculturalism Obama globalized limits knowledge

    • you could just as easily argue that TCKs will never know some really important things – can never know them – precisely because they’ve never had the experience of growing up in one culture which they knew (however erroneously) to be the way the world is. 
    • That isn’t simply an indictment of the kind of smug and self-important cosmopolitanism on display in your reader’s letter.  Nor is it simply a defense of the kind of organic experiential knowledge that is only possible when one is rooted to a particular place and time.  At bottom, it is a profound statement about the limits of human knowledge itself. 
    • Travel the world and try to transcend your culture all you want, but you won’t ever succeed.  Not really.  As Alasdair Macintyre put it, we are never more (and sometimes less) than the co-authors of our own narratives.  There will always be a part of us that it is the product of the time and place and family in which we first came of age, perhaps especially when we are reacting to that experience and trying to “transcend” it.  And even if by some miracle we actually succeeded in that project, then whatever else we may have gained, we will also have lost the ability to be truly a part of any culture from the inside. 
    • The game of “Who sees the world more broadly?” is a silly one to play.  And also dangerous in these times when what we really need are shrewd leaders who are so intimately familiar enough with American politics and culture that they not only see the breadth of our problems, but also their depth.
  • tags: Venezuela Chavez

    • these days Chavez’s influence is waning across the region as Venezuela’s oil-powered economy has gone bust and concerns have been raised about his governing style, which includes the jailing of opponents.
    • Ever so quietly, some of the Venezuelan populist’s biggest projects have been abandoned or mothballed, or have yet to take flight, including a pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina, a South American development bank, housing, highways and a continental investment fund.
    • Latinobarometro found in a February report that Latin Americans perceived Venezuela to be less democratic than other countries, assigning a 4.3 rating to Venezuela, with 10 being the most democratic.
    • When the group asked people to rate leaders in the Americas, Chavez finished second to last in its 2010 report. Even in Bolivia and Argentina, countries with warm relations with Venezuela, fewer than 35 percent of those polled had a favorable opinion of Chavez.
  • tags: gifted & talented education

  • tags: gifted & talented education

  • tags: gifted & talented education

  • tags: gifted & talented education

  • tags: torture CIA rationalization

    • what Thiessen articulates is, in many ways, more disturbing.

      What we are talking about is a system of violence and torture against whole swathes of prisoners to turn them into wreckages lacking human autonomy. The idea is that this makes them more likely to tell the truth because they have lost the will to resist. So Gitmo is really a camp designed to destroy human beings, not merely detain them, which was what Abu Ghraib revealed.

    • Are all detainees at, say, Gitmo subject to these techniques routinely? That would be the natural inference. If this is how torture was used, isn’t it light years’ away from the initial “ticking time bomb” scenario – in fact, a complete rebuke to such a scenario?
    • And if the torture creates a broken soul that cannot lie, why do the torture defenders acknowledge that KSM lied to them long after the torture – which is what allegedly tipped them off to the salience of previous intelligence about the alleged courier? If he had been broken into compliance, why on earth did they believe he was lying?
  • tags: library librarian information center

    • Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don’t shlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR. You might want them to, but they won’t unless coerced.

      They need a librarian more than ever (to figure out creative ways to find and use data). They need a library not at all.

    • Post-Gutenberg, books are finally abundant, hardly scarce, hardly expensive, hardly worth warehousing. Post-Gutenberg, the scarce resource is knowledge and insight, not access to data.
    • The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by a librarian who understands the Mesh, a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.
    • The next library is filled with so many web terminals there’s always at least one empty. And the people who run this library don’t view the combination of access to data and connections to peers as a sidelight–it’s the entire point.

      Wouldn’t you want to live and work and pay taxes in a town that had a library like that? The vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information? There are one thousand things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.

  • tags: obama multiculturalism post-racial globalized

    • Obama, is what we call, a TCK—A Third Culture Kid. TCK’s grow up as the children of missionaries, or as military brats, or as the children of businessmen. It means that you grew up during your early developmental years in a culture outside of your parents’ home culture.
    • TCK’s are usually unable to view the world in a simplistic dualistic way. On the contrary, they are usually over-achievers, get advanced degrees, and are infinitely curious about the world. They can accentuate different facets of their personality and experiences based on who they are talking to—and it’s not fake.
    • Obama is the classic TCK. This is why he represents the new America so well—he is post-racial, globalized, and a great example of America’s own Third Cultural nature.
    • As you have pointed out, like Reagan or Thatcher, at his heart he is a pragmatist. Like a true TCK, he doesn’t romanticize any one culture or ideology. He understands that there is good or bad in everything.
    • TCK’s have no choice. They must engage the world.
    • Have we ever had a President who has lived in this many American worlds and cultures and succeeded in all of them? 
  • tags: information understanding structure app software writing

    • Tinderbox “the tool for notes.”
    • The power of Tinderbox comes from its ability to display those notes in a number of different and helpful ways, and its array of mechanisms for manipulating those notes.
    • Tinderbox is a toolbox full of tools that let you play with information. DevonThink Pro is a better tool for research, particularly when linked with Devon Agent, OmniOutliner is a better outliner, Scrivener is a better writing tool, and Omnigraffle does a better job of drawing. All of these tools are great, but while they overlap some, they don’t cover everything Tinderbox does.
    • For many years, I have walked into large, complex businesses and attempted to identify what was going on and how it could be done better. My job was part Qualitative Research, part Quantitative Research, and part Political Analysis. Qualitative Research has a number of tools for analyzing interviews and playing with the data, teasing meaning out of diverse viewpoints. I used these tools effectively, but I wish I’d had Tinderbox earlier in my career because it would have made this job easier. Tinderbox is a far more useful tool for ‘right-brained’ qualitative analysis than most of the other tools I’ve worked with, but even that sells it short.
    • Very few people I’ve seen truly understand its character as a tool box for manipulating and exploring information.
    • I have been using TB for just over a year and it has become my second top application after Scrivener. (I also use DEVONThink Pro)

      I have planned a trilogy of novels on it, and a detailed timeline for the first novel.
      I’m currently editing the first novel, which is to come out in Feb 2112, and I have set up my Scrivener screen so that the timeline occupies the lower third of my screen (though the Apps can be viewed together in other ways).

    • As for the trilogy, the plan is a work in progress using map view. But the power to manipulate the characters, events and relationships, and run what-ifs, has far exceeded my expectations.
  • tags: google intelligence research pew Education future knowledge contemplative utilitarian breadth depth

    • Carr argued that the ease of online searching and distractions of browsing through the web were possibly limiting his capacity to concentrate. “I’m not thinking the way I used to,” he wrote, in part because he is becoming a skimming, browsing reader, rather than a deep and engaged reader. “The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas…. If we lose those quiet spaces, or fill them up with ‘content,’ we will sacrifice something important not only in our selves but in our culture.”
    • force us to get smarter if we are to survive. “Most people don’t realize that this process is already under way,” he wrote. “In fact, it’s happening all around us, across the full spectrum of how we understand intelligence. It’s visible in the hive mind of the Internet, in the powerful tools for simulation and visualization that are jump-starting new scientific disciplines, and in the development of drugs that some people (myself included) have discovered let them study harder, focus better, and stay awake longer with full clarity.” He argued that while the proliferation of technology and media can challenge humans’ capacity to concentrate there were signs that we are developing “fluid intelligence-the ability to find meaning in confusion and solve new problems, independent of acquired knowledge.” He also expressed hope that techies will develop tools to help people find and assess information smartly.
    • 76% of the experts agreed with the statement, “By 2020, people’s use of the internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid.”
  • tags: social media personalization conformity information

    • the World Wide Web came along and blew the gatekeepers away. Suddenly anyone with a computer and an Internet connection could take part in the conversation. Countless viewpoints bloomed. There was no longer a mainstream; instead, there was an ocean of information, one in which Web users were free to swim.
    • Where once Google delivered search results based on an algorithm that was identical for everyone, now what we see when we enter a term in the big box depends on who we are, where we are and what we are. Facebook has long since done the same thing for its all-important News Feed: you’ll see different status updates and stories float to the top based on the data Mark Zuckerberg and company have on you. The universal Web is a thing of the past. Instead, as Pariser writes, we’ve been left “isolated in a web of one” — and, given that we increasingly view the world through the lens of the Internet, that change has frightening consequences for the media, community and even democracy.
    • Google has begun personalizing search results — something it does even if you’re not signed into your Google account. (A Google engineer told Pariser that the company uses 57 different signals to shape individual search results, including what kind of browser you’re using and where you are.)
    • Yahoo! News — the biggest news site on the Web — is personalized, and even mainstream sites like those of the New York Times and the Washington Post are giving more space to personalized recommendations. As Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said, “It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that is not tailored for them.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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