For these reasons, it may be preferably to embrace an alternative to personalized learning, which might be called personal learning. In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves. (Source)
Rubbish! Soft skill training is disguised bootstrapping, which insidiously blames youth for failing in racist systems designed to block their success, and it abdicates the middle class from any responsibility to uproot inequality. It’s racism that really keeps students out of college and careers, not kids’ lack of resilience. Students are ready for college and jobs. Postsecondary institutions and employers are not ready for black and brown youth. (Source)
What caught my attention with respect to our conversation here was the conclusion, implicit in his argument, that many of the features that have built the Internet into a weapon of mass distraction are not intrinsic to the medium, but are instead a side-effect of its cooption as a tool for capital growth.
That’s a heavy sentence. Let me attempt to unload it…
Rushkoff notes that after the biotech crash of the 1980’s, investors needed a new sector that could continue to fuel capital growth.
The Internet filled this role. Among other things, it exposed net users’ attention and personal data as an under-exploited resource that could be extracted and sold, and therefore support growth much in the way colonizing a country and extracting minerals from the ground once did.
As in any extractive industry, the more resources you can mine, the better. This led the way to attention engineering and the general/inevitable push to make applications and sites as addictive as possible.
This capital-driven push toward maximum addictiveness led to the shiny tangle of apps and infotainment sites that have become the bane of potential deep workers worldwide.
This is an important distinction.
When I take a stand against social media, in other words, I’m not taking a stand against the contents of your feed, but am instead taking a stand against these large companies’ insistence that the intrinsic value of my attention should flow into their coffers instead of being directed by me toward deep work on things I find important.
Rushkoff’s observations, however, do more than fuel righteousness. They also provide hope.
The Internet can and should be a source of peer-to-peer connection, serendipity, interestingness, and even revenue generation. But we shouldn’t necessarily expect the venture-backed corporations sprinting to generate 100x returns to be the best source of these rewards.
Publicly-traded or venture-backed producers of social media content and designers of how we interact with it have every interest in producing more and more for us to click on and look at and then move onto the next thing. More consideration=less ad money. This is one reason why more people swim in The Stream rather than cultivating a Garden. It's more mental effort, but the money's in making The Stream be really easy to swim (or float) in. See The Garden and The Stream
For more about how human desires and pressures shape the electronic environment we've built, see Technology Doesn't Want
Our architectures tend to emphasize stability (present usefulness) over the intermediate nature of such things.
As an example, we often choose formats which privilege sharing (present usefulness) at the expense of remix (intermediacy). I first encountered this when looking at OpenCourseWare (OCW) in the mid-aughts. In the quest to share things in “open” formats, providers had shared PowerPoints in PDF, a widely readable format that increased shareability at the expense of remix. In one fell swoop, this decision transformed what could have been an emergent pattern into yet another for of publication. (Source)
What resonated to me from Mike’s piece above everything else was his recognition of a clash between usefulness and remixability. Resources that tend to be universally useful (PDF) tend to not be remixable. Resources that tend to remixable (let’s say open source code) tend to only be accessible by a privileged few who understand how to unlock the technology into a matter that is actually tweakable.
MakerBot is a dead company walking. Yes, the newest version of the Smart Extruder is more reliable, with most extruders printing successfully after 1200 hours. Thingiverse, a MakerBot property, is still the most popular object sharing repository on the Internet, but others including YouMagine are making inroads. What does the future hold for MakerBot? It will linger on as Stratasys division of consumer 3D printers, but it’s extremely doubtful MakerBot will ever be held in as high a regard as in the heady days of 2010 and 2011. (Source)