inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #51 of 74: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 28 Oct 17 16:19
    
You how tech has intruded "into the intimacies of our life," and how
people now accept surveillance as a given. Are we too far into now
to back away, look critically, perhaps adjust our participation.
Might we become more active in defining the terms of use? Perhaps
dig into the "Indie web" movement that hopes to create p2p
alternatives to corporate networks like Twitter and Facebook?
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #52 of 74: Craig Maudlin (clm) Sun 29 Oct 17 07:31
    
> ... I urge them to look back and see how we got here concerning
> technology. What is happening is recent but not new.

This is key, imo. But how do we sucessfully teach those lessons?

  "History repeats itself."
                                    "History doesn't repeat --
                                     it rhymes!"
  "People will argue about
   anything."
                                    "Not always!!"
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #53 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Sun 29 Oct 17 10:09
    
I'm happy that there is finally a backlash against Facebook and
Google. But I wonder if the numbers of people backing off will make
a dent in billions who can't seem to stop posting. Can we live
without Google search now? And all those pictures! I have a friend
who posted over 100 pictures from her vacation in "Moments," and I
kept getting bugged that I hadn't looked at them. 

This brought me back to the vacation slide-shows my parents would
give to neighbors on the street of modest homes where we lived. Most
everyone had moved in at the same time, 1948, when the houses were
new. My parents would dim the lights in the dining room, set up a
screen, and put out folding chairs. The slide shows were, well, what
they were. But my parents served cocktails!

In LIFE IN CODE, I included a short passage about the despair being
felt by some of those involved in the early development of the
internet. They have accepted that privacy cannot be achieved, given
the current basic architecture. Like Time Berners-Lee, they are
trying to imagine and build a different internet, one peer-to-peer?
location-based? something else? Something.... What do others feel
about the possibilities?
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #54 of 74: Gary Nolan (gnolan) Sun 29 Oct 17 10:50
    
I share your happiness about the FB and Google backlash Ellen. 
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #55 of 74: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 29 Oct 17 13:54
    
I continue to use Facebook and Twitter and appreciate the connection
to friends and acquaintances, which continues to enrich my life.
When my grandson died last year, new and old friends shared our
grief and expressed their support, holding us up at a time of
irreversible tragedy. It's hard for me to buy into the argument that
the stacks, especially Facebook/Twitter/Google, are a great evil,
since they have brought so much to my life. I wonder if the indie
web would support the same wealth of connections... probably not. 

But the stacks are also machines that churn money and power. I don't
know what to do about that, other than shine a light on it.  And I
personally try to create a better tribal scene by advocating
co-operative ownership of businesses, where greed is mitigated by a
commitment to economic fairness.

Quote from Doug Rushkoff:

"...it’s the technologists actually developing things. They hold the
keys. The kids graduating Stanford don’t have to go work for Goldman
Sachs writing extractive algorithms. The developers and engineers
need to embrace their power, rather than submit to the operating
system of Wall Street. It’s so sad that they see themselves as
powerless lackeys of the moneyed elite, rather than the true power
players of the century. But I guess they’ve been brainwashed to seek
out 'unicorns' instead of creating the world they want to see."

Ellen, that seems to resonate with your latest. Doug argues that we
need a new social & economic operating system. Have you had similar
thoughts, or ideas about a more productive and sustainable direction
for 21st century cyborganic humans?
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #56 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Sun 29 Oct 17 14:08
    
I agree with Rushkoff. In the chapter "Programming for the
Millions," I encourage programmers -- more of them, from varied
backgrounds -- to ask new questions, essentially take power.  

Oh, Jon. I tremble when anyone asks me about the future. Many things
that I wrote about in the 1990s and oughts came true -- to my
chagrin. I wrote from what was happening around me, as a warning,
maybe, but mostly to try to understand the happenings myself:
writing as a way to have a deeper and more personal look at digital
life, mine and that of others.

Three is too much noise now. But it's certainly true that
cybernetics, whether in software or robotics, is extending its
fingers into .... well, everything. The medical advances will be
startling and heartening, maybe wondrous.

I'm glad you find some happiness in fbook and other social media.
Many do, I know. I suppose I'm the gloom representative. Always have
been. Have felt all along the need to question the techno true
believers, because of their unbridled certainties about the golden
digital future. Now there are many other questioners: good!
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #57 of 74: J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Sun 29 Oct 17 19:07
    
I tell younger people (and older people!) to focus on what feels most real
to them and try to make it happen.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #58 of 74: Pamela McCorduck (pamela) Mon 30 Oct 17 06:32
    
Good advice, <matisse>.

I found lost relatives on FB and connected with old friends. But I
came to see it (as I see Twitter) as a time sink that makes
insufficient returns. 

Wrestling with future trends, trying to decide which ones are worth
paying attention to, warn about, rejoice in? So hard. Was it Paul
Saffo who said we tend to overestimate future trends in a ten year
period and underestimate their effect over decades?
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #59 of 74: Craig Maudlin (clm) Mon 30 Oct 17 08:04
    
That's a very important observation. (Amara's law)

I think it suggests that, in the short run, paying attention is more
important than coming to a conclusion.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #60 of 74: Gary Nolan (gnolan) Mon 30 Oct 17 10:26
    
The "insufficient returns" you mention <pamela> is an important
point. The common justifications for FB use should be weighed
against the emerging social price we are witnessing. 
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #61 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Mon 30 Oct 17 12:59
    
I agree about the "time sink." Also email. Email is a little devil
constantly poking you with a pitckfork: check me, check me, check
me.

As a writer (and, formerly, as a programmer) I found I needed the
singular focus. That gets too intense sometimes, and I had to do
what psychologists call a "displacement activity": something that
let's you discharge the growing intensity for a moment. Smoking used
to do it. Ah, farewell to that.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #62 of 74: Frako Loden (frako) Mon 30 Oct 17 13:35
    
Jigsaw puzzle is mine.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #63 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Mon 30 Oct 17 15:28
    
Ooh. Doesn't that get too obsessive? (It would for me.)
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #64 of 74: Betsy Schwartz (betsys) Tue 31 Oct 17 09:25
    
Facebook has such a clever hook though - the family and friends
connections that at the moment cannot be obtained another way. We'll
all be able to leave Facebook when everyone *else* leaves Facebook.

SO much stuff to read. Mailing lists and newsletters and online
newspapers and blogs and boards and videos... I can get lost just
reading the good stuff, never mind the clickbait.

 Speaking of feeds and filter bubbles, the Wall Street Journal has
an extremely cool site showing what life looks like for other
bubbles:

http://graphics.wsj.com/blue-feed-red-feed/
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #65 of 74: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 31 Oct 17 10:36
    <scribbled by jonl Tue 31 Oct 17 10:36>
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #66 of 74: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 31 Oct 17 10:41
    
"The common justifications for FB use should be weighed against the
emerging social price we are witnessing."

I don't think that use of FB or other similar platforms is the
issue - rather, the issue is misuse, and misuse has not been well
addressed, probably because social network platforms are relatively
new, and we haven't built the tradition and education necessary to
mitigate the undesirable effects, the "emerging social price"
<gnolan> mentions. 

E.g. parents who lack digital literacy can't be expected to teach
their
kids how to use FB etc. 

I've been hearing conversations about this point for years: we need
digital literacy education at the elementary level and beyond. I
don't really know whether that's happening - I wonder how (and
whether) elementary schools are addressing the problem?
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #67 of 74: Extension (jonl) Tue 31 Oct 17 10:42
    
This conversation was originally set to end today, but we're
extending through Wednesday because Ellen's book tour caused her to
miss a couple of days.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #68 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Tue 31 Oct 17 12:38
    
Yes, children need to be taught digital literacy (starting in
kindergarten? oh dear). In the book, I discussed the question of
society-at-large's understanding how code surrounds us. In
addressing it, I realized that the issue could not escape the hold
of social class, and the utter neglect of public education. We could
start a good rant about our dear Secretary of Education, Betsy
DeVos, who is nothing but a private-education profiteer.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #69 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Tue 31 Oct 17 13:01
    
On another subject, I was somewhat amused to realize that I had
taken and/or explored a couple of the MOOC Python classes that you
discussed. You raise an issue that I find disturbing--that, on the
one hand MOOC classes are free (or can be free), but that the
language and setting can make them inaccessible to anyone but a
current member of the cognoscenti. It's like we've created the great
way to democratize education, but kept the keys so that only the
right sort can get in.

Since I teach online (for a local university) it makes me think hard
about how I might restructure the lessons, readings so as to enable
more inclusion. In my mind, this is merging in some weird way with
Criminal Justice Reform--we seem bent on having a society that
filters out as many people as possible (keeping them away from
knowledge and/or locking them up in jail), rather than focusing on
how we enlarge opportunities and make knowledge more accessible.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #70 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Tue 31 Oct 17 14:04
    
I'm glad you found the Python part interesting. If it was helpful to
you in any way, I'm glad. In the Python class, I was shocked by the
online interchange between Severance and van Lent. I had to soften
it, for legal reasons. But what I wrote first was that he hit her
with "a verbal fist of dominance."

I think your linking this to criminal justice reform is intriguing.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #71 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 1 Nov 17 08:09
    
I was not impressed by Severance as a teacher. I thought you caught
the dichotomy between his "one of the guys" affect and the degree to
which he also teaches to those guys who are potential "one of his
kind of guys." Having said that, as one of the guys, his class was
helpful. But, in concert with your article, something I'm thinking a
lot about in terms of how =I= teach.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #72 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Wed 1 Nov 17 10:11
    
I do think he said something wonderful: "Beginning does not mean
easy." I think that is the true spirit of teaching.

I also credited him and the teaching team for the coding framework
they created, which guided students into code-writing. Also the
rubric for grading. He told the students not to mark down for
trivial mistakes for misspellings, unless they interfered with the
workings of the programs.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #73 of 74: Ellen Ullman (ullman) Thu 2 Nov 17 11:27
    
I have to sign off today. Thank you all for the fine conversation.
  
inkwell.vue.499 : Ellen Ullman, Life in Code
permalink #74 of 74: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 2 Nov 17 15:44
    
Inkwell thanks Ellen Ullman for joining us in the midst of her busy
book tour! Ellen's book is _Life in Code: A Personal History of
Technology_:
https://us.macmillan.com/lifeincode/ellenullman/9780374534516/

Thanks also to all the other participants in the conversation.
  



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