Saturday, March 29, 2014

(re) writing affirmatively: how to work with noncoherence and political positionalities


Thursday 3 April – paper sessions

From Law13: 121-2:

"The interest in “fuzziness” signaled by the Common Knowledge symposium suggests an increasing willingness to face up to and articulate the realities of noncoherence. As the will to purity loses its power, it becomes easier to talk about how to do syncretism well and then to act accordingly. Purity is not the only way we hold together normatively or politically. The puzzle is why we are so often scared of the thought of a world that is noncoherent. Why do we feel ourselves at a disadvantage when we are told that, unless we buy into general moral and political principles, we have abandoned all possibility of a moral or political position? Perhaps we are still partially beholden to the modernist redesign that leads to straight lines and curves, rather than to the jury-rigged boxes and wires, ambiguities, tensions, and messy social arrangements of impurity—beholden to the idea that the opposite of coherence is incoherence rather than noncoherence. But then again, perhaps things are changing. If we are able to talk of fuzzy logics and heterogeneities, then perhaps the will to purity is starting to lose its grip.

"In its religious context, the term syncretism has been understood both as negative and positive. Negatively, it has been taken to connote sloppiness: a failure to be clear. It has been treated as a theologically and intellectually suspect eclecticism, as an attempt to throw everything into one pot. But positively, it has been understood as an expression of vitality, tolerance, and inclusiveness—as an indication of a fluid willingness and ability to draw on the power of many traditions by finding ways of holding them together. Religious syncretism has sometimes been accomplished hegemonically; notoriously, for instance, the early Christian church located its houses of worship on sites of pagan significance in order to tap into and domesticate the indigenous gods. But as we have seen, hegemony is not the only syncretic mode available. We need to explore the different ways in which these modes work and transmute them into a resource for thinking about how to do noncoherences well. There will be no analytical or normative guarantees, but then we have never been modern, and the guarantees that we once believed we had were always empty. There is no need to be scared, for if noncoherence is not incoherence, then neither is incomplete success a failure."

Warren Hedges, Immanent Domain & EMDA @ SOU 


Considering compassion, outcomes, transformations, moral outrage, social movements, urgency, privilege in many meanings: having it, using it, giving it up, alternate meanings in feminist theory and its histories and activisms....

From Friends of the Earth International:  

On March 31, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its report on the latest scientific understanding of climate change impacts.

Why we need climate justice: the climate crisis is an environmental justice issue

The report's findings draw our attention to the many reasons why the climate crisis is an environmental justice issue.
Climate change is hitting the poorest people and the poorest countries hardest, despite these being least responsible for causing it. These examples from the UN report exemplify why the climate crisis is an environmental justice issue:

1. The poorest are already most affected by climate change
Extreme weather can destroy homes and infrastructure, and changing weather patterns can reduce crop yields and make some conditions unworkable. While richer people and richer countries may be positioned to adapt to these new circumstances, poorer countries and poorer people are already struggling with higher food prices and reduced crop yields.

2. Poverty and extreme weather
Countries and districts lacking essential infrastructure and quality housing are simply less able to cope with extreme heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires. Water scarcity and lack of access to food following extreme weather is also a greater problem for poorer countries and poorer people in richer countries.

3. Access to food
Essential crop yields, such as wheat and maize, have already been negatively affected by climate change. Further change could mean the breakdown of food systems and supply chains in vulnerable areas. Once again it is the urban and rural poor who are worst hit.

4. Health impacts
Delivery of basic medical services will suffer in some particularly vulnerable areas, exacerbating existing health complaints and leaving preventable conditions unchecked. As the twenty first century rolls on, climate change is expected to lead to increases in ill-health.

5. Fishing and coastal communities
As climate change causes the loss of marine ecosystems and damages others, the impact on already fragile fishing communities could be catastrophic. Changing marine migration patterns are vastly unpredictable. Meanwhile, storm surges, coastal flooding and rising sea-levels are likely to disrupt livelihoods and cause injury, ill-health and death in coastal regions.

6. Poverty reduction efforts will be set back
With the erosion in food security comes the likelihood that efforts to reduce existing inequalities will be scaled back. Economic growth is likely to decline. Poverty reduction will be more difficult and less effective.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt, particularly by the poorest. Further climate change brings substantial risks to human well being, again particularly the poorest, as well as to ecosystems.

Coping with the effects of climate change will require rapid and significant reductions in emissions from the wealthiest people across the world and from the wealthiest countries.
It will also require significant financial and technical assistance to help poorer countries and regions to adapt  and develop low-carbon economies.

But there is also an urgent  need to reduce vulnerability to climate change by reducing inequalities between and within countries.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Break the Spring!


Please help the Director of Presentations and Reading put together a map of who has read what: and thus, who we can turn to to facilitate connections with specific materials. Please include articles and talksites as well as whole books. Katie's links to talksites from the class site for example.

Let us see visually the universe of materials we are entangling ourselves into! One of those Adele Clarke like things could be nice!

Director of Presentations and Readings: It would be great if you would bring such a map in for our class after Break, a handout for us all to use.

Thursday 20 March – SPRING BREAK

Thursday 27 March – Sandoval, Keating, Reed, Flanagan, Alkon, Cohen, Dolphijn, Barad, King 
<<use Law as lens, or as, we might say, a coordinating artifact among these complex systems>>

Thursday 3 April – paper sessions


Sensing Botanical Sensoria: A Kriya for Cultivating Your Inner Plant

by Natasha Myers
Never forget this: your body does not end at the skin.[i] Your contours are not constrained by physical appearance. Your morphological imaginary is fluid and changeable.[ii] Indeed, your tissues can absorb all kinds of fantasies.[iii] Your imagination generates more than mere mental images; its reach extends through your entire sensorium. Simultaneously visual and kinesthetic, imaginings carry an affective charge. They can excite your muscles, tissues, and fascia, heighten or alter your senses. You can fold semiosis into sensation.[iv] Perceptual experiments can rearticulate your sensorium.[v] And by imagining otherwise, and telling different stories, you can open up new sensible worlds.
Consider tying on the habits, comportments, and sensitivities of other bodies. Becoming with and alongside others, you might begin to see with new eyes, smell with a new nose, and taste with a new tongue.[vi]Indeed, we have opportunities to do this every day in our entangled mimetic dances with others -- human, more than human, and machine. These encounters can incite other ways of seeing, feeling, and knowing. Altered perceptions can destabilize entrenched sensory regimes and bring otherwise imperceptible phenomena within grasp. What you once thought were stable boundaries between bodies may begin to break down. The very order of things may come undone.
Consider this as an invitation to deepen your already multispecies Yoga practice. Cat, Cow, Dog, Crow, Scorpion and Fish Poses torque your body into mimetic affinities with animal forms. Here I invite you to cultivate your inner plant. This is not an exercise in anthropomorphism – a rendering of plants on the model of the human. Rather, it is an opportunity to vegetalize your already more than human body. In order to awaken the latent plant in you, you will need to get interested and involved in the things that plants care about. Follow the plants.[vii] Let yourself be lured by their tropic turns and you will acquire freshly vegetalized sensory dexterities. Try this Kriya.[viii] Tree Pose will never be the same again.
Find a patch of sunlight. Stand tall, let your feet sink into the ground below you, and close your eyes. Reach your bare arms outward and feel the sun warm your skin. Drink it in. Now, let go of your bodily contours. The skin and flesh of your arms thins and fans outward, becoming membrane thin. Your bones dissolve, and your muscles melt away. Begin to pump water through your veins until they elongate and branch into turgid vessels. Draw water up your growing stem into your leaves. Play with this new buoyancy, feel the lift and lilt as your leaves and stems reach for more sunlight. You are becoming phototropic. Lap up the sunlight through your greening leaves.  Feel a cool pocket of air forming on the underside of your leaves as you release atmospheric vapours. You are photosynthesizing: eating sunlight, inhaling gaseous carbon, exhaling oxygen and releasing water. 
Now drop down into your roots. Extend yourself into the cool, moist earth. Feel your strength as a downward thrust that inspires an upward lift. Experiment with gravitropism. Feel the rush as you redistribute your awareness through this thin, filigreed tangle of roots and that branch and branch until they reach the width of just a single cell. Find one of your root tips. Taste the wet, metallic soil; smell that musty gradient of decaying matter flush with nitrogen and phosphorus. Propel yourself towards the source. Experiment with your strength. Push yourself up against the soil; grow through minute crevices between crumbling pieces of earth. Wherever the soil resists, just release your chemical stores to dissolve whatever is in your path.
Now multiply this sensation. Feel two searching root tips. Then four. Can you extend your awareness to five? What would it like to feel one thousand root tips extending through the soil? Feel the rush as you expand your awareness to millions of sensitive root tips. Dive downwards and run outwards, drawing water and nutrients in and up through all of them simultaneously. Feel your whole root system humming with an electric charge. You have become one giant nerve cell merging with soil.[i] Now hook yourself into a thickening mycelial network of fungi, microbes, and other roots all around you.[ii] Feel the energetic thrill of connection. How far can you extend your awareness? Run with it, in every direction.[iii]
Without letting go of this excitation, draw your awareness back up your stem and into your leaves. You no longer have eyes, a nose, ears, a tongue, or nerves, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see, smell, hear, speak, taste or feel. Can you feel the play of light and shadow across your leaves? The surface of each one of your leaves is a visual organ registering and remembering minute shifts light intensity. And you can see in colour, indeed, a wider range of colours than your human eyes have ever beheld. You don’t need a central nervous system to process this “information” into images. Your leaves are filmic media, recording colour movies of the lush, shifting light patterns around you. You can “see” the dancing shadows other plants cast as they list and play in the wind; and you can tell that the person standing over you about to prune your limbs is wearing a red shirt.[iv]
Experiment with light at dawn and dusk. Can you feel the energetic shift when the far-red light of the rising and setting sun clues your body in to the earth’s rotational rhythms? In time you will be able to remember precisely when those long rays last excited your tissues. You will not only acquire a bodily memory of the play of light and colour as they change over the seasons, you will learn to anticipate and prepare for future events.
Continue this practice daily and you will no longer need a nose to smell or a mouth to speak. Your entire body will become an olfactory organ sniffing out the richly fragrant world around you. Indeed, the atmosphere is a collaborative ecology of volatile chemical signals to which you actively and volubly contribute.[i] Take pleasure in the art of synthesizing and releasing complex bouquets of fragrance from your tissues. This is your way of telling the world what you are up to, moment to moment. You can talk to other plants and animals, reporting on the condition of your leaves, flowers and fruits. You will be able to lure pollinators and complain audibly about the damage done by feeding insects. Indeed, you not only feel insects crawling up your stem and slicing into your tissues, you can discern the distinct species eating your leaves by tasting the specific chemistry of its saliva. If you are quick you can synthesize volatile compounds to warn your neighbours so that they can prepare their tissues with toxins to keep the offending insects at bay. Or you could call out for help from other insects who will prey on these herbivores. Soon you will discover that you are an effusive catalyst at the centre of an affectively-charged chemical ecology.
Now, it’s time to let go. Draw in your roots until your rhizome remembers its feet. Let your leaves thicken into arms. Feel your turgid vessels soften. Drop your arms back down to your sides. Come back to your breath. Come back to your body. But remember to ask yourself: Is this really the same body? What has changed?


The Tree of 40 Fruit Is Exactly as Awesome as It Sounds

A ward-winning contemporary artist and Syracuse University art professor Sam Van Aken grew up on a family farm in Reading, Pennsylvania, but he spent his college years and much of his early career focused on art rather than agriculture. While Van Aken says that his work has always been "inspired by nature and our relationship to nature," it wasn't until recently that the artist's farming background became such a clear and significant influence, first in 2008 when he grafted vegetables together to create strange plants for his Eden exhibition, and then shortly after that when he started to work on the hybridized fruit trees that would become the Tree of 40 Fruit.
Each tree begins as a slightly odd-looking specimen resembling some kind of science experiment, and for much of the year, looks like just any other tree. In spring, the trees bloom to reveal an incredibly striking and thought-provoking example of what can happen when nature inspires art. Then, over the course of several months, Van Aken's trees produce an incredible harvest of plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and almonds, including many you've likely never seen before.
Thus far, Van Aken has created and placed 16 trees in museums, community centers, and private art collections around the country, including in Newton, Massachusetts; Pound Ridge, New York; Short Hills, New Jersey; Bentonville, Arkansas; and San Jose, California. Using a unique process he calls "sculpture through grafting," Van Aken creates trees that grow and support more than 40 varieties of stone fruit, including many heirloom, antique, and native varieties.
On the heels of Van Aken's TEDxManhattan talk, we spoke with him about the Tree of 40 Fruit, how he developed and executed the concept, his plans for the future, and what happens to all that fruit.
Epicurious: What is the Tree of 40 Fruit and what inspired the project?
Sam Van Aken: At the time this project began I was doing a series of radio hoaxes where I hijacked commercial radio station frequencies and played my own commercials and songs. In addition to becoming acquainted with FCC regulations I also discovered that the term "hoax" comes from "hocus pocus," which in turn comes from the Latin "hoc est enim corpus miem," meaning "this is my body" and it's what the Catholic priest says over the bread during [the] Eucharist, transforming it into the body of Christ. This process is known as transubstantiation and [it] led me to wonder how I could transubstantiate a thing. How could the appearance of a thing remain the same while the reality changed? And so, I transubstantiated a fruit tree. Through the majority of the year it is a normal-looking fruit tree until spring when it blossoms in different tones [of] pink, white, and crimson, and late in summer it bears [more than] 40 different types of fruit.
Epi: What is the goal of the Tree of 40 Fruit and what do you hope to communicate?
SVA: First and foremost I see the tree as an artwork. Like the hoaxes I was doing, I want the tree to interrupt and transform the everyday. When the tree unexpectedly blossoms in different colors, or you see these different types of fruit hanging from its branches, it not only changes the way you look at it, but it changes the way you perceive [things] in general.
As the project evolved, it took on more goals. In trying to find different varieties of stone fruit to create the Tree of 40 Fruit, I realized that for various reasons, including industrialization and the creation of enormous monocultures, we are losing diversity in food production and that heirloom, antique, and native varieties that were less commercially viable were disappearing. I saw this as an opportunity to, in some way, preserve these varieties. In addition to maintaining these varieties in my nursery, I graft them to the Tree of 40 Fruit. Additionally, when I place a Tree of 40 Fruit, I go to local farmers and growers to collect stone fruit varieties and graft them to the trees. In this way they become an archive of the agricultural history of where they are located as well as a means to preserve antique and native varieties.
Epi: You've described your artistic process as "sculpting by way of grafting." Could you explain what that means?
SVA: I currently work with over 250 varieties of stone fruit and developed a timeline of when they blossom in relationship to each other. By grafting these different varieties onto the tree in a certain order I can essentially sculpt how the tree is to blossom.
Epi: Why did you choose to work with stone fruits?
SVA: Stone fruits have [a] greater diversity among the species, and are the most inter-compatible. Although it gets tricky when you start to graft cherries, for the most part one can easily graft between plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and even almonds.
Epi: Where and how did you acquire all the different fruit varieties?
SVA: My primary source for most of these varieties was the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. When I began the project there was an orchard at the Experiment Station with hundreds of different plum and apricot varieties. They planned to tear this orchard out, so I picked up the lease until I could graft all of these varieties onto the trees in my nursery.
Epi: How long does it take to create one of your trees?
SVA: Depending on when the tree is planted it takes about five years to develop each tree and graft 40 varieties to it.
Epi: Do you continue to work on the trees after they're planted?
SVA: After the tree has been planted, I visit it twice a year, in the spring to prune and [in] late summer to graft, for three years, until the tree is established.
Epi: What happens to all the fruit from your trees?
SVA: Until I discovered garlic and peppermint repellents, they were a huge hit with the local deer, but fortunately we've resolved that. I've been told by people that have [a tree] at their home that it provides the perfect amount and perfect variety of fruit. So rather than having one variety that produces more than you know what to do with, it provides good amounts of each of the 40 varieties. Since all of these fruit ripen at different times, from July through October, you also aren't inundated.
Personally, I give away most of the fruit that comes from my trees. For people who aren't aware of farming and growing, the diversity of these varieties and their characteristic tastes are surprising and they ultimately begin to question why there are only a few types of plums, one type of apricot, and a handful of peach varieties at their local market.
Epi: Each of your trees has the capacity to grow more than 40 different varieties of stone fruits. Can you explain the significance of the number 40?
SVA: The number 40 has been used throughout Western religion to represent a number beyond counting. [Being] interested in this idea of a bounty of fruit coming from one tree, 40 seemed appropriate.
Epi: Do you have any plans for the future of this project?
SVA: I would like to continue to place these trees throughout the country preserving these heirloom, antique, and native fruit varieties. Wherever I place them there is a sense of wonderment that they create through their blossoms, the different fruit, and the process by which they are created.
Eventually, I would like to create a grove or small orchard of these trees in an urban setting. I have always stayed away from artwork that educates people, but to some extent these works in addition to being beautiful and producing fruit cause one to reconsider the possibilities with food and fruit production.
Photo: Sam Van Aken

Leap Forward: Why We Need to Think Bigger on Climate Resilience

In 1995, a severe heat wave struck Chicago, killing more than 700 people. The disaster hit some neighborhoods much harder than others. For the most part, its devastation closely traced the city's economic and ethnic segregation. More people died in places like Englewood, a South Side neighborhood with a history of poverty and crime, and a largely African-American population; yet some neighborhoods with this same demographic fared remarkably well. Just adjacent to Englewood, the Auburn Gresham community -- also poor and black -- weathered the disaster far better than many of the city's wealthy white communities.

The difference? Auburn Gresham's strong social ties kept residents alive. As Eric Klinenberg explains in his excellent New Yorker piece, residents survived in large part because they knew each other. During the heat wave, neighbors checked on neighbors. They knocked on doors. They knew who was alone, who was elderly, who was most at risk.
As we grapple with how to best prepare for climate change, there's a valuable lesson in Chicago's heat wave. We've been hearing more and more about community resilience -- from the President's creation of a task force on the issue, to his executive order directing agencies to help prepare Americans for the effects of climate change. These measures couldn't be more important. We badly need investments in infrastructure and in emergency response systems that will mitigate damage from coming disasters. But these measures alone don't get us where we need to be.
So far, the conversation on climate resilience has been too narrow. It often overlooks some of the key components that have proven to make the difference in how a community survives a heat wave, a flood, a fire, or a hurricane.
Reliable infrastructure and good disaster response plans are crucial. But truly resilient communities -- the ones that weather storms, economic downturn, and disasters best -- also embody many of the following four key components:
1. Have Strong Social Capital
The neighborhood ties that helped Auburn Gresham survive Chicago's heat wave are so important that, as Klinenberg noted, they equal the impact of having an air conditioner in every home. That effect is too big to ignore. Resilience strategies need to recognize that social ties are a survival mechanism -- and support activities that build them.
2. Can Use Existing Assets to Cope with Calamity
During Hurricane Sandy, members of Green City Force, a service corps that prepares low-income youth for sustainable careers, played a new and crucial role in helping residents of Brooklyn's Red Hook area survive. Corps members gathered and distributed food to elderly residents who otherwise would have been cut off from help. It worked because the members of Green City Force knew the neighborhood well, they were already organized, and their members had an ethic of service and stewardship toward their community that propelled them to action. Smart resilience strategies will invest in the kind of organizations that are already embedded and connected with local residents -- from community groups and non-profits to churches.
3. Are More Self-Sufficient
If communities develop local sources of food, they're safer when droughts or disasters drive up food prices. If they have their own power -- like solar panels on a school -- they aren't as vulnerable in the face of blackouts. If they're familiar with their neighbors and have established gathering spaces, they can still communicate when cell phone networks get clogged. If they have prosperous local businesses, they're better prepared to ride out storms in the global economy.
4. Have a Voice in the Decisions That Affect Them
If a community has a history of engaging with government or working together to secure resources -- if neighbors have successfully petitioned the city to fix potholes or install gutters -- they'll not only be more prepared before a storm hits, they'll be in a better position to get the resources they need after the storm. The most effective resilience strategies will support local leadership.
Climate resilience plans that focus just on disaster preparation, but ignore these components, do a disservice to us all. And it's not just about mitigating the damage from storms -- it's also about creating the kind of long-term stability that strengthens our nation as a whole. We need to think bigger and be bolder so that our community resilience strategies reflect our nation's core values and capabilities.
Think Bigger, Be Bolder
When our leaders talk about helping Americans survive disasters, they haven't been thinking big enough. Surviving is a baseline. American communities have always endeavored to survive and thrive, despite the challenges or setbacks.
When our leaders talk about "bouncing back" they haven't been thinking big enough. Bouncing back is a dubious goal for folks living on the edge. If you're struggling to feed your kids or pay the rent before a storm strikes, it's not enough to return to business as usual. Vulnerable Americans need to find a way to gain ground -- not just go back to the margins. After all, the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina began to unfold long before the storm hit -- the seeds of disaster were planted decades earlier, when the area's poor communities were abandoned.
Our climate response plans have to think bigger about the problems -- and the opportunities. Our best community resilience strategies will:
Recognize that disasters hit low-income communities and people of color first and worst.
When it comes to storms and severe weather, those with the fewest resources have a harder time preparing, escaping and recovering. Nationally, African-Americans, who are more likely to live in coastal areas, are at greater risk for displacement from flooding and sea level rise. They're also more vulnerable to heat-related deaths, which are expected to increase by 90 percent. Meanwhile, climbing food costs, crime and illness from climate change are all expected to hit people of color and the poor hardest. Climate resilience strategies -- and investments -- must address this gap.
Put these communities in the driver's seat.
No one knows how to weather storms better than folks who've already been pushed to the edge. Neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham have endured decades of divestment and blight. The same communities hit hardest by extreme weather have survived years of toxic pollution, redlining and abandonment. In an under-resourced area, it's not uncommon to borrow a cup of sugar from next door, or lean on a neighbor to watch your kid. The history of social ties that have kept these neighborhoods alive through decades of hardship have already laid a strong foundation for climate resilience. Good resilience plans will be developed in partnership with vulnerable communities. Strong outreach and civic engagement will uncover ways to build upon the social entrepreneurship that's already buzzing within these areas -- to unleash the "hustle" that has helped residents survive and thrive for decades.
Think bigger. Stay focused on leaping forward, not just bouncing back.
Resilience investments should leave local economies stronger, more inclusive, and healthier than before. We have no choice now, but to fight climate change and get Americans ready for the disasters to come. But if we're smart about it, we can address economic inequality at the same time. Investing in clean energy, efficient infrastructure, and climate-readiness can create jobs and business opportunities in the communities that need them most. The kind of jobs that help fight carbon pollution, like manufacturing solar panels, tend to pay more (13 percent higher than the median wage) while requiring less formal education. That's a recipe for escaping poverty. In the long run, the economic stability these jobs create will do more than just about anything to fortify communities on the front lines.
A "leap forward" strategy won't just help the most vulnerable among us -- it will help everyone. The extreme devastation we see when disasters strike poor, under-resourced communities is more expensive to clean up. It drags down our economy, and it exacerbates suffering among families who are already struggling. It's in everyone's interest to prevent damage on that scale.
America's leadership will be tested more and more in the years to come -- not just by climate change, but by an increasingly globalized economy. Our nation's number one resource is its people. We simply can't afford to have so many members of our team sidelined by hardship -- or overlooked by shortsighted planning processes. We need to craft resilience strategies that unleash the genius within our communities.
By thinking bigger about resilience -- by creating prosperity in partnership with communities, and by clearing the way for the hardest-hit among us to build a healthier, safer, more equitable future -- we position ourselves to do more than just bounce back from hard times. We set ourselves up to leap forward, together as a nation, into the future of our own choosing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

pulling together: /es/system-ing: agential cuttings and compost

/es/system-ing: agential cuttings and compost

Alkon. 2011. Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability. MIT. 9780262516327
Cohen. 2012. Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 1. OHP. [Free online.] 9781607852377
Dolphijn. 2012. New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies. Michigan. OHP. [Free online.] 9781607852810
Barad. recent articles. (Reference: 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke. 9780822339175)
King. talksites. (Reference: 2012. Networked Reenactments: Stories Transdisciplinary Knowledges Tell. Duke. 9780822350729)
  • Thursday 20 February – Alkon, Cohen (Sandoval)
  • Thursday 27 February – Alkon, Cohen (Keating)
  • Thursday 6 March – Dolphijn, Barad, King
  • Thursday 13 March – Dolphijn, Barad, King

Thursday 20 March – SPRING BREAK

Thursday 27 March – Sandoval, Keating, Reed, Flanagan, Alkon, Cohen, Dolphijn, Barad, King 
<<use Law as lens, or as, we might say, a coordinating artifact among these complex systems>>

Thursday 3 April – paper sessions

>>Everyone should work with the Director of Presentations and Readings to make sure as a class we cover all the material on 27 March: not everyone has read all of each, but we cover all of it, and we have enough overlap for good comparisons and thinking together. Everyone should know Law13 very well by now!

>>Everyone should be working ahead with the Director of Paper Sessions to make sure your papers will be centered in the readings for the class and demonstrate how you are using these materials, no matter what else among your own projects, interests, and careabouts you also include.

Paper sessions will be organized just like a poster session would be. So bring enough copies of a handout that allows immediate access into your arguments and cares to use as a coordinating artifact with other class members for on-the-spot interactions. Handouts should be both visual and textual. We will use them as mini-posters to create a physical (on the wall) and mental (handed out) space for connection.

>>After the paper sessions, everyone will work with the three Directors of the Website to create an online site to share the papers publicly. Collectively the class will complete this by the end of the term.

For a wonderful resource for thinking about posters (coming up) or sooner, handouts, as multimodal compositions, with cognitive consequences and uses, and with some ideas about visualization and design, see Leeann Hunter's slideshow HERE. Think of handouts as little posters for your papers. See also additional Hunter resources HERE.

PLEASE REVIEW our TABS: What to Do! & On Presentation 

Friday, March 7, 2014

more to be said for "lifelong kindergarten" exploratory creativities.....


Preschoolers can outsmart college students at figuring out gizmos

The findings suggest that technology and innovation can benefit from the exploratory learning and probabilistic reasoning skills that come naturally to young children, many of whom are learning to use smartphones even before they can tie their shoelaces. The findings also build upon the researchers' efforts to use children's cognitive smarts to teach machines to learn in more human ways.
"As far as we know, this is the first study examining whether children can learn abstract cause and effect relationships, and comparing them to adults," said UC Berkeley developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, senior author of the paper published online in the journal, Cognition.
Using a game they call "Blickets," the researchers looked at how 106 preschoolers (aged 4 and 5) and 170 college undergrads figured out a gizmo that works in an unusual way. They did this by placing clay shapes (cubes, pyramids, cylinders, etc), on a red-topped box to see which of the widgets -- individually or in combination -- could light up the box and play music. The shapes that activated the machine were called "blickets."
What separated the young players from the adult players was their response to changing evidence in the blicket demonstrations. For example, unusual combinations could make the machine go, and children caught on to that rule, while the adults tended to focus on which individual blocks activated the machine even in the face of changing evidence.
"The kids got it. They figured out that the machine might work in this unusual way and so that you should put both blocks on together. But the best and brightest students acted as if the machine would always follow the common and obvious rule, even when we showed them that it might work differently," wrote Gopnik in her forthcoming column in The Wall Street Journal.
Overall, the youngsters were more likely to entertain unlikely possibilities to figure out "blicketness." This confirmed the researchers' hypothesis that preschoolers and kindergartners instinctively follow Bayesian logic, a statistical model that draws inferences by calculating the probability of possible outcomes.
"One big question, looking forward, is what makes children more flexible learners -- are they just free from the preconceptions that adults have, or are they fundamentally more flexible or exploratory in how they see the world?" said Christopher Lucas, lead author of the paper and a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. "Regardless, children have a lot to teach us about learning."
Other co-authors of the study are Thomas Griffiths and Sophie Bridgers of the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology.
A new study shows children can sometimes outsmart grownups when it comes to figuring out how gadgets work because they're less biased in their ideas about cause and effect. (Video by Roxanne Majasdjian and Philip Ebiner)

  • Christopher G. Lucas, Sophie Bridgers, Thomas L. Griffiths, Alison Gopnik.When children are better (or at least more open-minded) learners than adults: Developmental differences in learning the forms of causal relationshipsCognition, 2014; 131 (2): 284 DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.12.010

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