Here’s that blog post I promised

TL;DR version: good pedagogy is emancipatory and empathetic. Thanks for letting me be your teacher.

***

We’re done with readings. We’re moving on to presentations. I always feel like the end of the class is the part that I fail at most–that I want to say something that is meaningful but not overwrought, to thank my class for their time and try to summarize how much I value the experience of being their teacher without coming off like an over-emotive weirdo.

The night that we discussed failures–one of my favorite discussions that we had in this class–and I rode home reading from Helen MacDonald’s excellent memoir H is for Hawk, which spends a lot of time discussing T.H. White and his relationship to teaching. And falconry. And his sexuality. And a lot of things. But coming home from our discussion about how we can nurture positive ideas failure in our class, I was hit with this:

White had escaped school by running to the woods, but he’d rented a cottage on the old road to its door. He’s gained freedom by changing his life, but he’d not escaped the concept of freedom that school had given him. At school you move up from year to year, gaining more power and privilege until you finally leave. It was this notion of freedom–as the natural end to an ordeal-filled education–that never left White, and it was working within him when he lengthened Gos’s [his goshawk’s] leash with breakable twine. As a schoolboy he knew that the boys over whom he had authority would one day have authority over themselves. And as a schoolmaster, too. And a falconer. Deep down he knew he was always training his charges for a time when they would be free.

Out of context, this quote doesn’t convey how very constrained this hierarchical sort of freedom is–that it is available to a particular type of ruling class and rests not only upon personal autonomy but dominion over other people, animals, and landscapes–and is maintained by force and ritualized ordeals of belonging. White himself was devastated by the brutality enacted upon him, and uneasy with wielding this power over his pupils–and his bird. But he was never free of it.

In current times, we’ve come to the era of “zero tolerance” and “no excuses.” We are asked to disregard the playing field without attempting to level it. So the next day when this article, “Why Are Americans So Inclined to Disrespect Students” popped up in my feed several times over, I stopped and paid attention. The author brings up the idea of “pedagogies of kindness and respect.” What would that look like? What would it feel like? Is it a move away from the stark, derisive, and racially-charged political focus we now have on “success” and “failure” (the bad, shaming kind) and towards understanding, empathy, and freedom? I hope we find out.

Public key

Inspired by the paranoia of this week’s readings, I’ve created my first public key using GNU Privacy Guard, which uses PGP. Feel free to sign and return. (Though not until you’ve verified that this post was created by me. Some malefactor could have taken over my computer!)

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The Double-Face of “Generativity”

The Part II of Jonathan Zittrain’s compelling book The Future of the Internet (and How We Can Stop it) centers around the concept of “generativity”—the core to the book’s argument.  It is defined as “a system’s capacity to produce unanticipated change through unfiltered contributions from broad and varied audiences.” (70)

Generativity, like capitalism, contains the seeds of its own destruction.  It allows people with malicious intentions and their malware to put the average Internet user at constant risk. This potential negative power the Internet generates will possibly lead to a regulatory backlash and a series of “blunt solutions” that will take away  what we love about today’s information ecosystem.  It also might lead to a consumer backlash against general-purpose PCs in favor of “tethered appliances”—TiVos, iPhones, etc.—that grant the user security at the expense of modifiability, which is at the heart of the concept of generativity.

Is that a wake-up call, or an over exaggeration? If we don’t start fixing the problems with the Internet, will it gradually lead to people’s giving up on generative systems and the innovation they can produce?  It is no wonder that many users, under such threats, would prefer a locked-down system in exchange for security. However, “tethered devices” are less generative and more open to outside (government or industry) control.  The threats of the “walled garden” are also true with online apps, which bring considerable convenience to Internet users but poses similar risks as tethered devices. Since the apps are not under user control, the functionality can change or even vanish anytime as upgrade happens.

In this ephemeral online world, it might be useful to rethink the concept of “generativity”—“a system’s capacity.” To Zittrain, is the “system” the technical amalgamation of tools and human effort? Or the automated combination of tools’ property? Or the Internet users or third parties who engage in unmediated participation in the creation of the Internet content? The fuzzy definition of the concept of “generativity” makes it difficult to judge where policies should go in terms of providing clear guidelines for its optimization.

Zittrain admits that generative technologies can be built using non-generative tools or platforms. For instance, Compuserve developed Wiki-like features and invited its subscribers to contribute to something resembling Wikipedia.  Reversely, one finds generative technologies in supposedly non-generative appliances. For instance, many embedded devices with non-trivial capabilities use general-purpose operating systems such as Linux. TiVo, Xbox, and iPhone, which Zittrain categorize as non-generative, are all based on generative technologies.

Bearing in mind Zittrain’s pessimistic outlook on the future of the Internet, we should also think about the famous challenge Tim O’Reilly used to pose to Microsoft: without open platforms, where will its next wave of technology come from?

Communication, Coercion and Conditioning

I know that I’m supposed to be writing a response to CitizenFour but that’s not going to happen.

I cannot calmly discuss the “issues” that surround the invasion of our country from the inside out.  I do not want to talk about it.  I want to yell and scream and pound my fists on the table; how can we be so stupid, so careless, as to have given over our sweet, precious democratic republic  to a bunch of thugs…..to the enemy within?

There is nothing the Internet can offer us that will ever compensate for the loss of values, principles and ideals that in the past have allowed citizens to conduct their affairs for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of a ruler or agency or shadow government.  And it’s made worse by the fact that while we continue to elect representatives, none of them seem capable of actually restoring democratic principles — to anything.

We’re in deep shit, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

How do we fight the injustice of government surveillance and its infringement on our privacy?

For quick reference, here are the articles and videos I will be referring to:

While reading Wu and Bilton’s articles, I kept thinking about movies that dramatize surveillance paranoia. In particular, Wu’s New Yorker article made me think of Eagle Eye and I, Robot, although these are both extreme examples of technological surveillance where artificial intelligence drives technology to begin surveillancing and policing humans for our own safety. Funnily enough, Bilton’s opening comment that “Anyone who can watch you will watch you” immediately brought to mind the far less anxiety-inducing Truman Show. I think this line corresponds wonderfully to the shot where Jim Carrey is entertaining himself by drawing on the bathroom mirror with soap as the television audience watches intently:

Truman Show

surveillance to the extreme

And in response to Bilton’s suggestion that even our World of Warcraft activities are being monitored, I would like to express pity for the poor soul doing that surveillancing.

Both Wu and Bilton seem to assume that we, the readers, have an inherent mistrust in the government. It’s probably a safe assumption to make, but even so, each article overlooks some important information.

In his argument that seeks to create awareness of the fact that convenience for consumers through the centralization of the Internet has made it easier for the government to compromise our privacy, Wu makes no mention of September 11th or the USA PATRIOT Act, despite his historical survey of electronic privacy. He also surprisingly omits Obama’s signing of the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act, which extended provision for roving wiretaps, the library records provision, and surveillance of lone wolves (thank you, Wikipedia). (In opposition to this omission, I think that Poitras very effectively discusses the Obama administration’s complicity in the breech on citizens’ privacy, although admittedly Poitras had an additional year and knowledge of the events depicted in Citizenfour to take a position.) Also, I find it strange that in his conclusion Wu makes reference to the assassination of President McKinley by anarchist Leon Czolgosz alongside the government surveillance during WWII and the Cold War. Not that I want to advocate for presidential assassinations in any way, but isn’t citizen retaliation against the government (à la Edward Snowden) exactly what is needed in this situation?

I find Bilton’s article to be much more sensational in its viewpoint with a tendency for the nostalgic and melodramatic. (I’m actually reminded of the 19th c. Well-Made Play. During the Act Four climax, some piece of evidence, e.g. a letter or photograph, is brought forward to incriminate the play’s antagonist. Reference to Harvey Silvergate’s Three Felonies a Day seems to suggest that the government is going to show up with surveillance evidence to incriminate us all.) The title of the article itself (“Internets Sad Legacy: No More Secrets”) certainly appeals to a reader’s nostalgia for the good ole days when a man could commit three felonies a day and not be caught. Bilton appeals to our obsessive need for privacy without suggesting what sort of incriminating things people might actually be doing or saying online. Bilton’s solution to the problem of government surveillance, namely the hope that new technology can be used to fight against current surveillance technology, fails to address the imminent need for government curtailment to prevent them from using the new technologies to increase their surveillance.

More specifically, though, both Wu and Bilton are lacking advice or guidance to their readers. They seem to suggest that being aware of the infringements on privacy is progress enough. Donovan and Deep Lab go one step further, though. Donovan asserts that people shouldn’t simply accept the notion that “we have no privacy, get over it” as the new norm. (Jacob Appelbaum makes this argument even more poignant in Citizenfour by equating contemporary notions of privacy with historical views of liberty and freedom.) Donovan’s explanation of United States v. Jones and Justice Sotomayor’s disagreement with the other justices over citizen consent very clearly illustrates that a reasonable expectation of digital privacy might be a bit too reasonable for the government. I’m also extremely enticed (and unnerved) by the sentiment in the Deep Lab short film that young individuals must make a choice between remaining culturally relevant or being safe and protecting their information. In light of this problem, Wu and Bilton’s awareness of the situation is translated into a productive question: How do we fight this incredible injustice while being open?

So, how do we fight this incredible injustice? Deleting information that is currently online won’t help since the data is already saved in the government facilities in Bluffdale, UT. Could turning off Location Services on my iPhone actually make a difference? Not if my position can still be tracked by service towers. If, like Donovan suggests, consciousness-raising activities can be anti-surveillance practices, what’s the good of being informed if we can’t fight back? To go back to Rachel’s post about Snowden coming out, is our privacy completely dependent on brave individuals who are willing to sacrifice their own freedoms in the United States for our own?

Is it all of our responsibility to ‘come out’ like Snowden?

Some Americans know who Edward Snowden is. Some do not. And even those of us who know about Snowden’s actions–his reveal of classified information to mainstream media about the federal government’s surveillance programs–probably do not understand why he chose to do what he did and how he went about doing it. And this is what makes Citizenfour a powerful documentary—as it provides a platform for Snowden to speak his truth about what motivated his actions and why he believes he is/was responsible to share the government’s surveillance tactics. I do wonder how Snowden feels now, living in Russia (at least temporarily) after the fact.

Here I’ll share several thoughts/questions that came up after during/after watching Citizenfour:

Truth-telling, whistle-blowing, and accountability:

Whose responsibility is it to reveal knowledge/truth(s) about data, technology, and surveillance? And what are these truth(s)? Snowden states that he felt accountable to share what he knew. In fact, at one point in the film he shares: “These are public issues. These are not my issues, they are everyone’s issues.” Are these everyone’s issues? And if so, how do ‘we’ (and who is we) continue to effectively address (or should I say expose) them?

I agree that these are issues that affect everyone–but with two caveats.  First, there is not such thing as a universal ‘everyone’, even if we are solely talking about the US. Issues of public knowledge, surveillance, and even truth-telling manifest in different ways for different people. What can be said/the consequences of truth-telling/what type of knowledge is known in the first place—these and many other ‘circumstances’ depend on one’s race, class, space, sexuality, etc. Would Snowden be Snowden if he wasn’t a white heterosexual male?

Second, I know I take for granted that what I know about data, knowledge, and surveillance (and I far from know all there is to know) –through my coursework, my colleagues, my constructed social media feeds, etc. And often it seems as if everyone ‘should’ know what’s going on. But they don’t.

For me, both of these caveats are attached to several factors–all driven by this form of governmentality (the trope of neoliberalism). Slow death. Structural Racism. Necropolitics. Biopolitics. What all these fancy(ish) and useful academic terms tell me = People don’t know things they don’t know and it’s not because people aren’t interested in knowing; there are factors, decisions, structures in place, etc. that make it difficult for some people to know certain things.

And this leads me to two additional questions:  If not Edward Snowden, then perhaps someone else? Is surveillance reform in the United States inevitable?

Risk:

Snowden states that he leaked this information “for the good of his country.” What’s interesting is that by doing so Snowden placed not only himself, but also a host of others, at risk. And perhaps all risk isn’t equal. But for Poitras, Greenwald, and others, Snowden’s decision, along with their decision to publicize it, was and still is filled with risk. But does this risk outweigh the risk of not telling?

And how can one prepare for something like this? Snowden makes reference to how he prepared: he set up a system to ensure his rent would be paid, he left his girlfriend a note, he had the documents to pass over to Greenwald, MacAskill, etc.

Coming out:

One statement that really stood out is when Snowden talks to Greenwald (and maybe MacAskill) about revealing his identity. For Snowden, the question is not ‘if’ these journalists will reveal him as their source, but instead ‘when.’ Snowden even states that “it is powerful to come out. I’m not afraid.” And it seems as if more and more people are coming out with information about how corporations and government agencies are transforming our intellectual knowledge and our individual bodies into data–and even how they are using this data.

I was reading a blog about a completely different subject (Bruce Jenner’s primetime interview) where the author, Julia Serano, was talking about Jenner’s (and other trans-identified folks) coming out(s). And I know I’m taking this statement out of context  (and coming out as trans* and coming out as a whistle-blower are very different events with perhaps related, but dissimilar consequences) but I like what Serano wrote:

“Coming out isn’t supposed to be a spectacle. Coming out is when one person tells another person…” (and then this part is specifically about coming out as trans*)

So I want to leave us with this question: Is it all of our responsibility to ‘come out’ (with classified but potentially harmful information) like Snowden?

And does this type of coming out—this coming out in an age of increased surveillance and data bodies, does this type of coming out need to be a spectacle in order to be deemed successful? Or should we all (or at least those of us who are privy to these types of knowledge and I believe this is more of us than we think) come out on an everyday basis?

 

 

 

 

Should we change the conversation by not using the word “Failure”?

Since I won’t be in class this evening, I wanted to respond to a couple points that Sarah and Anke have made in their latest blog posts, as well as input a couple of my own thoughts into the conversation.

As Anke explains, students likely have a difficult time equating the academic goal of failing with good grades because they have serious concerns about GPAs, scholarships, or what have you. I think that these completely legitimate concerns must be addressed. As individual instructors, it is potentially dangerous to teach our students that risk taking is a worthwhile pursuit because other instructors might have very different thoughts on the matter. We need to be clear that our classrooms are safe learning environments, but other classrooms might not follow the same guiding principles.

I wonder if trying to encourage students to fail is fighting an uphill battle. Sarah and Anke both expressed interest in discussing whether or not a group’s relationship to failure is culturally specific, but whether the struggle with “Failure” is strictly U.S. American or not, we certainly need to address the fact that [most of] our students (and quite likely ourselves as well) do not view failure as a positive pursuit. For me, this leads to a question about language: would it be better (read: faster and more effective) to just re-frame the objective in different terms rather than try to reclaim a word that is loaded down with baggage? When we use phrases like “fail better,” we understand that the goal is risk taking and innovation. What we seem to mean is that we shouldn’t be afraid of failure because new ideas, thoughts, processes, technologies, etc. arise out of testing and development. However, aren’t we then arguing that the multiple iterations that it takes to achieve something more worthwhile are steps in the process rather than failures? And if these steps in the process are not failures because they help lead to the next thought or development, why are we encouraging failure?

Ultimately, we do not want our students to fail in the sense that the word implies. We want them to rethink what failing means. We do not want failure to be in opposition to success. Perhaps it’s just a small linguistical concern, but language is powerful and combating failure’s negative connotation might be a struggle we won’t be able to win over the course of a single semester. I’m pretty sure the capitalistic machine’s notions of failure are going to outweigh our own.

(For the record, I also see the benefit of using the term “failure,” but I think it worthwhile to play devil’s advocate.)

Perhaps a scientist in the classroom can help me with this final point … As educators, we should be trying to constantly improve our approaches and methods. Each new class we teach or assignment we develop is a pedagogical experiment. After an experiment has been completed, do scientists label their results as either success or failure? Shouldn’t we instead avoid connotations and simply discuss our findings and conclusions? Why this obsessive need to classify? Doesn’t every assignment have something salvageable even if it didn’t have the desired or anticipated results?

Innovation and Failure Part II

Alison Carr and Brewster Kahle provide two practical applications of processes that encourage/embrace failure. Of the exercises Carr posits, the most interesting to me were “Assessing ‘Quality of Failure,’” based on Edward Burger’s “Teaching to Fail” and “Try Again, Fail Differently,” based on Peter Elbow’s concept of low-stakes writing.

“Teaching to Fail” subverts the notion that there is such a thing as correct and incorrect by making failure a prerequisite for a good grade. As Carr explains, Berger defines failure as “a willingness to take on and pursue ideas that might not seem entirely ‘safe.’” This exercise is based on the belief that “risk-taking and failure foster imagination and lead to innovation.” He encourages students to share their failures, and 5% of the grade is based on “Quality of failure.” (Whatever that means! See below.)

If Berger subverts the notion of correct=good grade, failure=bad grade; then Elbow rejects the dichotomy altogether. As we read last semester, Elbow suggests that in order for student writing to improve, teachers need to create environment in which writing is disassociated from receiving red marks on the page. In Carr’s exercise, the idea is that writing is never correct (check mark) or incorrect (red mark), but constantly in flux. As she says, the focus is “not on how to say it better but on how to say it differently.” This semester, my students participated in an archive-building activity with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum which required them to write a short vignette that had a limit of 1500 characters. Similar to this process, it was fascinating to see them have to figure out what to cut and how to tighten their language so that they could upload their piece. Assigning students to tweet, it seems to me, would also have a similar effect.

Here are some questions these teaching models brought up for me:

  1. How do we assess failure? Is it in relationship to success? Or can you assess it alone? (As Berkun says, failing alone is not enough to lead to innovation; it requires the ability to extract the lessons learned from failure and apply them to new situations.)
  2. How might we as teachers measure that extraction and re-application of lessons learned through failure? It seems to me that that, actually, should be the metric of learning.
  3. How do or would your students react to these assignments? Would they freak since it subverts their entire experience up until this point? What types of scaffolding could you put in place to help them feel comfortable with an assignment in which failure was to be valued, not feared?

Last, yesterday’s very interesting lecture by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, got me thinking even more about innovation and failure. Here we see a man willing to go a long way in pursuit of wacky ideas. The non-profit has now made millions of books, movies, software, music, TV shows, websites and more free and open to the public. Kahle also referenced new pet projects including bit-coin and affordable housing; two aspects that don’t seem to have much to do with the rest of the archive. He spoke repeatedly of delegating; whether working with a Columbia University new music archivist to assess the importance of/create taxonomies for music preservation, or working with volunteers to trust them with the work of searching for whether video titles are currently available for purchase (and therefore should not be added to the archive.) In many ways, his approach and story reflects many of the  innovators described by Berkun.

Furthermore, his entire project, The Internet Archive, is the result of the failure (as he sees it) of the National Archives and the Library of Congress to collect, preserve, and create public access to intellectual material in digital formats. Kahle expects that he will be perpetually begging for forgiveness. This assumption that he will “fail” (get in trouble, do something wrong,) means that he doesn’t feel the need to constantly ask for permission. Some of the best parts of his talk were when he described mis-steps along the way and what he’s learned from other failures. For example, the fire of the Library at Alexandria told him to make many copies. Further, he’s making those copies in all types of different formats, with the full expectation that 90% of those (my made-up number) will fail to preserve this material. But if you try a gazillion different things, something is bound to stick.

Questions that Kahle made me consider:

  • What are the ramifications of this? Could it ever become damaging to get so used to/proud of failure? By never asking permission, but merely taking down materials when people complain, Kahle is railroading the (economic, social) aspects of shame that have historically protected intellectual property. In many ways, the digital age has meant that we no longer have these feelings of shame around stealing/being caught “stealing” intellectual property.
  • Should we see the integration of the pedagogy of failing forward as a feminist act? What are the gendered ramification of changing the culture of classrooms in this way? In Berkun’s lecture, we saw a group of innovators and were asked what they all had in common. My initial reaction was that they were all men; an observation that Berkun glossed over, along with the observation that they all have “bad hair.” Kahle embodies the sort of devil-may-care, breaking the rules personality associated with masculinity. Last year there was an article entitled “The Confidence Gap” in the Atlantic about why women fail once they move beyond the classroom into the real world; they expect that doing what they’re told will lead them to success. It worked in school; so it should work in the workplace! But, as Berkun and Kahle show, this training does not lead to innovation. The author argues that women get left behind since they lack the confidence to fail and to ask for raises/promotions, etc.

 

On Failure

In her post, Sarah questions Scott Berkun’s assertion that the anxieties surrounding failure are uniquely American. I don’t think I can answer that questions of course, but I have been thinking about such issues as I’ve been getting to know this culture and especially its educational system over the past few years. And, like Sarah, I am a perfectionist who finds that this trait is very hard to shake, so these texts certainly resonate with me. As a teacher, one of my goals is to get students to let go of the fear to fail, and, if at all possible, to let go of their focus on and anxiety about grades. But truth is that for them so much depends on their final grades and GPA. Admission, financial aid, fellowships, etc.

Even though Allison Car wants to focus not so much on external evaluation and assessment, ie. failing a course, as on failure as an “affect-bearing concept”, i.e. “being a failure,” I think the need for external praise and the importance of assessment is such an integral part here, not just of the educational system but the culture as a whole, and plays a huge role in why failure and “being a failure” is such a shattering experience. And, in a way, being able to take risks and be creative as a student is a luxury, something you probably would not dare think about if your GPA and financial aid is on the line when you’re just a number in an education factory. A lot of factors play a role, and I don’t think you can pinpoint the exact differences between different ways failure plays a role in different societies, but I do know that in the Dutch school system everyone fails at some point. And that’s totally fine. Grading is different. Only 50-60 percent of students usually pass a course (in higher ed mostly, secondary and elementary school are a bit different but there’s a difference in how they’re structured too, with three different levels of high school and no public/private–happy to elaborate on that in class). So almost everyone fails once, or twice, or more. No big deal. Then there’s the question of (access to) resources of course. Here, for many students failing a course or lagging behind means an increased financial strain on the student or family. In a system with only public schools, equal access and quality of education, there’s some wiggle room to fail and try again. Life doesn’t end there. Oh, and there are no class rankings, honors rolls, etc, all a result of the way in which secondary and higher Ed is structured in The Netherlands, which I think reduces the pressure and competition among peers.

I am still thinking about the differences here, why it sometimes seems it’s either/or here–either you’re a success, or you’re a failure–and why so many people have internalized this as well as the idea that it’s to the individual’s own fault or merit. But there are two other, more concrete things that I’d like to say about today’s readings, and that’s that I fully agree with what two articles in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy’s Teaching Fails columns say, namely, that there’s a huge amount of student orthodoxy, and that in English/literature classes, you often find yourself spending more time navigating the technology (ie. finding the same passage on your e-reader) than on the actual text under discussion. The article’s author is waiting for a tool that makes the text more “ready to hand” than current technology. I also sometimes feel that with all these different devices students carry, the different letter sizes they use, etc, etc, it’s hard to be on the same page, literally. There are a few of us who teach the kind of massive literature surveys I teach, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

Innovation and Failure Post Part 1

This week’s readings all consider elements of failure, from experiences of design failure to implementation and follow-up failure to the emotional experience of failing and the fear (or reality) of becoming “a failure,” and the ways in which the legacy of failure is written out of the record.

As a one-time perfectionist turned proud, loud, and frequent fail-er, I was excited to focus on these readings. Further, as a teacher who’s more interested in students being creative than in their being right, I was eager for tips on how to create a classroom environment in which failure is understood to be OK. I want to talk a bit about Scott Berkun’s lecture, Alison Carr’s, post, and the lecture by Brewster Kuhle (founder of the Internet Archive) that some of us saw yesterday.

Scott Berkun makes some important points. First, process is integral to understanding innovation. Sort of like how this blog post was supposed to be up on Saturday rather than Tuesday, the point is that when ideas that are mulling around in our heads, we have a much greater chance of putting them together in new and unexpected ways.This takes time, practice, patience, and guts.

Process also, I might add, requires down time with no new stimuli. Every time I have a free second, I check my phone, the news, facebook. For workers in open office plans, there’s always something exciting going on. We have a million new ideas buzzing around us all of the time, which means that we (or at least I) never give my brain the chance to do its own work in reorganizing these ideas. This is where developing good habits come in. See below.

Another of Berkun’s points is that most of this mulling time is boring, and often leads nowhere. Further, some of the most creative people are willing than most to spend longer entertaining outlandish ideas–the ones that seem most likely to fail. Good managers give their staff time to pursue those outlandish ideas.

In the end, however, failure, along with  process, failure is written out of history. We never see the crappy wooden slums of Rome; never learn about Mac’s “Newton”; only the marble buildings and MacBooks that have (so far) stood the test of time.

Here are some questions to get a conversation started:

  • Both Carr and Berkun suggest that our relationship with failure uniquely American. Do you buy this? Does anyone know about different cultures’ understandings of failure? How do they differ? Have our American notions changed over time? When how and why? (Sorry, I’m an Historian…you can’t just say this stuff.)
  • Berkun talks about the Luddites and the sociological reasons why innovations often take time to be adopted. What are the conditions necessary for adopting new technologies?  What conditions prolong how long it takes?
  • How might our phones/open office plans be used to foster innovative habits rather than inhibit them, as I suggest mine do for me?