The other day I posted this shot, from Sarawub Intarot at National Geographic, on Facebook.
The other day I posted this shot, from Sarawub Intarot at National Geographic, on Facebook.
Thanks to Facebook, we all see new memes every day. Some of them are funny, some insightful, and a lot are of the preaching to the choir variety, which even though they’re right as rain, they occasionally get tiresome. Like a lot of us, frustrated as hell with the sorry shape of our society and the deteriorating condition of our planet and the sheer hopelessness of mounting an assault against the mountain of cynical, corrupt cash standing between us and a solution, I guess I suffer from bouts of what we’ll call Fact Fatigue. If we’re intelligent, I fear, the truth is too much with us.
Every once in awhile, though, somebody sends one around that’s so on-point you can’t ignore it. Today, for instance, it was my friend Heather Sowards-Valey (she of Fiction 8 fame) sharing this one from Sciencegasm: Read more
Hi. I’m Sam, and I’m a PhD.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have a doctorate. Communication, University of Colorado, 1999. Some days it’s the thing I have done in life that I’m most proud of. Other days I think it’s the worst mistake I ever made in my life. There are days where I think both things more or less at the same time.
A couple of recent articles address my frustration and ambivalence. Read more
The word “socialist” was, for all intents and purposes, dead and buried after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But it has enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity since, oh, 2008 or so. The thing is, since we hadn’t had any real socialistm for awhile, our understanding of what the term means has gotten a little fuzzy.
So the question is, how socialist are you really? Maybe none at all, maybe a whole lot, and maybe somewhere in the middle. Let’s find out. Read more
I apologize in advance because this is going to ramble. And be wonky. If it helps, please know that it all makes sense in my head.
Our professional development program at work – yeah, my new job has an actual interest in professional development – has us doing some reading each week and informally discussing the insights. This week we were asked to read a section from a human-computer interaction text. It got me to thinking about some issues, and then one of my co-workers had a comment that took me even further down the rathole. Read more
A newly released report from the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University tells us some things we probably already know and some other things that ought to disturb us a little. Our good friend Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark, author of The Parent App, walks us through the main findings and offers some analysis in a post at Psychology Today, and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re a parent.
On the “we knew that” front, Clark notes that modern parents are “much more comfortable with communication technologies than were the generation of parents who preceded them” and that “these parents are using technologies like the TV, smartphones, computers, and tablets to manage family life and to keep children occupied.” Also, “joint media engagement drops off markedly for children who are six or older.” The report also confirms the explosion of smartphones and tablets “in the homes of those who have children aged 0-8, noting that 71% of these households have a smartphone, 42% have a tablet device, and 35% have both.”
The “slightly disturbing” part includes the revelation that “[d]igital media don’t even make the list of things that parents are ‘very concerned’ about,” which seems a little at odds with the finding that “most parents (70%) don’t think that these technologies have made parenting any easier.”
Then there’s the “more disturbing” category:
39% of families are media-centric, consuming an average of 11 hours of screen time each day. These families are very or somewhat likely to use tv to keep children occupied (81% say this). About half of these families leave the tv on all or most of the time and about half (44%) have a tv in the child’s bedroom. Children in these families spend an average of 4.5 hours a day with screen media (remember, these are homes with children who are 0 – 8 years old). Lower income families tend to fall into this category.
As I say, worth a read.
Clark reveals some important insights into what it all means and offers some useful advice (being both a leading scholar in the field and a mother of two affords her a good bit of expertise into the challenges facing today’s parents). For instance:
Instead of looking for guidelines about how much is too much screen time, we need to encourage parents to think about teaching time management and we need to provide young people with opportunities to learn how to remove themselves from or end screen time. Michael Rich, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and advice author at askthemediatrician.org, suggested that families consider instituting a “digital Sabbath” in which they experience life together and apart from technologies. He also noted that this is often harder for parents than for their children. Barbara Fiese, Professor at the U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted the importance of encouraging healthy habits in the whole “family ecology” of which media ecology is one part.
We need to remember that we don’t all experience media in the same way.
This was one of the points I wanted to make, as I observed that not all families even want to adopt a “media-light” position. I noted that the “helicopter parent” or “concerted cultivation” approach to parenting tends to keep families too busy to watch television and is framed in relation to viewing all leisure as a waste of time. Media are only seen as positive in these families when they fit within what in my book The Parent App I term an ethic of expressive empowerment. However, not all parents can engage in the kind of concerted cultivation activities that tend to make media use lighter. They may face economic, health, language, or job- or transportation-related challenges. Or their neighborhood’s not safe and so staying inside with media is a positive alternative.
This is just a sampling. I strongly encourage you to take five minutes and go read Clark’s post at PT. I often tell people that I have the smartest circle of friends of anyone I know, and Lynn is a sparkling example of what I’m talking about. If you’re a parent, or if you know one whose home has been Borged by digital media to the detriment of the family’s health, pass it along.
I think at some point in our lives, most of us imagine that it might be cool to be famous. But perhaps…perhaps not like this.
I suppose, as a general rule, the human animal is built to prefer knowing to not knowing, but I have been struck over the course of the past decade or so at how much worse our society has gotten at tolerating uncertainty. It’s as if having to say “I don’t know” triggers some kind of DNA-level existential crisis that the contemporary mind simply cannot abide.
Perhaps this is to expected in a culture that’s more concerned with “faith” than knowledge, reason, education and science, but even our extremely religious history fails to explain the pathological need for certainty that has come to define too much of American life. Perhaps it’s due to fear. America is currently being slapped about by one hell of a perfect storm, after all: Read more
The US takes on Ghana in the Round of 16 today, and we realize that soccer is a game whose nuances are alien to many American sports fans. SVR offers this brief primer on the basics of the game so as to enhance our readers’ enjoyment of today’s match.
Part 2 of a series; Previously: What Bell Labs and French Intellectuals Can Tell Us About Cronkite and Couric
The 20th Century represented a Golden Age of Institutional Journalism. The Yellow Journalism wars of the late 19th Century gave way to a more responsible mode of reporting built on ethical and professional codes that encouraged fairness and “objectivity.” (Granted, these concepts, like their bastard cousin “balance,” are not wholly unproblematic. Still, they represented a far better way of conducting journalism than we had seen before.) It’s probably not idealizing too much to assert that reporting in the Cronkite Era, for instance, was characterized by a commitment to rise above partisanship and manipulation. The journalist was expected to hold him/herself to a higher standard and to serve the public interest. These professionals – and I have met a few who are more than worthy of the title – believed they had a duty to search for the facts and to present them in a fashion that was as free of bias as possible.
In other words, their careers, like that of Claude Shannon, were devoted to maximizing the signal in the system – the system here being the “marketplace of ideas.” Read more
This came to me just now in an e-mail exchange with our friend John Harvin. So, tell me – am I onto something? Has this already been said?
In any public communication system where access is generally open, noise tends to expand at an exponential rate while the expansion of signal is merely additive.
Of course, it’s hard to imagine why this would occur to me…
One of the great debates in the field of ethics centers around the thinking of Emmanuel Kant vs. the Utilitarians – most notably John Stuart Mill. To simplify, Kant’s philosophy suggests that the means justify the ends: we should always do the right thing and trust the results to work out for themselves. Mill, on the other hand, argued that we should do what produced the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, and that the ends justified the means.
I’ve always tried to do the right and moral thing, of course, but when push comes to shove I’ve been an unapologetic utilitarian. I might, in my brasher moments, have put it this way: what matters is the outcome, the result, and doing the noble thing when it leads to a tragic result isn’t ethical, it’s both immoral and stupid. Read more
Part two in a series.
As I suggested in Part One, the messianic/utopian view of science and technology attributed to LIFE Magazine is consistent with an ideological bent that traces its lineage to the dawn of the Enlightenment in Europe.
Francis Baconâ€™s highly influential New Atlantis, first published in 1626, recounts the narratorâ€™s fictional shipwreck on the shores of Bensalem, a lost utopia, and offers one of the earliest testaments to the potential of applied science (Outhwaite & Bottomore 1994). In an extended ceremony, Bacon is given to know the seemingly limitless bounty of Bensalemâ€™s scientific expertise. Bensalem is well versed in all manner of advanced technology: refrigeration and preservation, mining, agriculture, astronomy, meteorology, genetics, animal husbandry, desalination, medicine, musicology, mechanics, air flight, and mathematics are literally only a few of the society’s advanced technological arts. Read more
Thx to Jim Gwyn for passing this on.