Watched A bold idea to replace politicians by César Hidalgo from ted.com
César Hidalgo has a radical suggestion for fixing our broken political system: automate it! In this provocative talk, he outlines a bold idea to bypass politicians by empowering citizens to create personalized AI representatives that participate directly in democratic decisions. Explore a new way to make collective decisions and expand your understanding of democracy.

“It’s not a communication problem, it’s a cognitive bandwidth problem.”—César Hidalgo

He’s definitely right about the second part, but it’s also a communication problem because most of political speech is nuanced toward the side of untruths and covering up facts and potential outcomes to represent the outcome the speaker wants. There’s also far too much of our leaders saying “Do as I say (and attempt to legislate) and not as I do.” Examples include things like legislators working to actively take away things like abortion or condemn those who are LGBTQ when they actively do those things for themselves or their families or live out those lifestyles in secret.

“One of the reasons why we use Democracy so little may be because Democracy has a very bad user interface and if we improve the user interface of democracy we might be able to use it more.”—César Hidalgo

This is an interesting idea, but definitely has many pitfalls with respect to how we know AI systems currently work. We’d definitely need to start small with simpler problems and build our way up to the more complex. However, even then, I’m not so sure that the complexity issues could ultimately be overcome. On it’s face it sounds like he’s relying too much on the old “clockwork” viewpoint of phyiscs, though I know that obviously isn’t (or couldn’t be) his personal viewpoint. There’s a lot more pathways for this to become a weapon of math destruction currently than the utopian tool he’s envisioning.

🎞 Ocean’s Eight (2018) | Warner Bros. | ★★★

Watched Ocean's Eight (2018) from Warner Bros.
Directed by Gary Ross. With Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling. Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City's yearly Met Gala.

Pretty solid, but missing some zing and more complicated plotting compared to the others.

Rating:

📺 June 25, 2019 – PBS NewsHour | PBS

Watched June 25, 2019 - PBS NewsHour from PBS
Tuesday on the NewsHour, the acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has resigned after roughly two months in the position, at a time when legislation around immigration and border management hangs in the balance. Plus: The cultural impact of the Stonewall Riots, policy around period products, sexual assault allegations against President Trump and a book on “The Death of Politics.”

🎞 The Firm (1993) | Paramount Pictures | ★★★★

Watched The Firm (1993) from Paramount Pictures
Directed by Sydney Pollack. With Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook. A young lawyer joins a prestigious law firm only to discover that it has a sinister dark side.

Always a good watch.

Rating:

📺 "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" Content Moderation and Free Speech | Netflix

Watched "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" Content Moderation and Free Speech from Netflix
Directed by Richard A. Preuss. With Hasan Minhaj, Joyelle Johnson. Hasan explains how social media giants Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter abuse their right to free speech to prevent anyone from regulating their shady business practices, and does a quick follow-up on his Saudi Arabia episode.

Sampling. Sadly not quite as funny as I would have expected. Perhaps a bit bored with this particular episode, but only because it’s a subject matter in which I’m over-versed.

🎞 Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) | Walt Disney Pictures | ★★★★

Watched Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) from Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Ron Howard. With Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover. During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

A fun little romp with some creative origin stories.

Rating:

📺 "Dexter" Dexter | Netflix

Watched "Dexter" Dexter from Netflix
Directed by Michael Cuesta. With Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King. Dexter takes part in the investigation of a serial killer who drains his victims of blood. He also kills two criminals, and his romantic relationship may be going to the next level.

Dozed off on the couch early this evening. Woke up late and couldn’t sleep, so started watching some old tv for mild entertainment. 

2nd viewing of this series beginning here.

🎞 Murder Mystery (2019) ★★★ | Netflix

Watched Murder Mystery (2019) from Netflix

Murder Mystery poster

Directed by Kyle Newacheck. With Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, Terence Stamp. A New York cop and his wife go on a European vacation to reinvigorate the spark in their marriage, but end up getting framed and on the run for the death of an elderly billionaire.

Slow first act. Not as bad as I expected it would be. Not as funny either.

Rating:

🎞 Working Girl (1988) | Twentieth Century Fox

Watched Working Girl (1988) from Twentieth Century Fox
Directed by Mike Nichols. With Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin. When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss' job.

DVRed from cable; watched on television

You hear the opening title music and you immediately know what you’re watching even though you haven’t seen this in decades…

Holy crap their 80’s hair is high and insane. What were people thinking?!

Interesting to re-watch this in a post me-too era. Somewhat bizarre to see Kevin Spacey play an assaulter in the opening act. Art imitating life?

This really did have some awesome casting. Bully to Juliet Taylor with Ellen Lewis as her associatet. Many of the smaller players became bigger later or have done some interesting character work hereafter. Zach Grenier in an early turn hitting on Weaver at her office party. He really is underappreciated. This is one of his first big film appearance. Most will recognize him from his break through role in Fight Club as the overbearing boss. Quick turn by Leslie Ayvazian as a receptionist… Ricki Lake with a short appearance as a bridesmaid. Apparently David Duchovny had a role in one of the bar scenes, but I didn’t really catch it. Kind of cool to see Amy Aquino as the assistant at the end of the picture. I recognized her name in the credits having appreciated her in Bosch (Amazon) recently, but kept waiting for her to pop up. And wow! That curly hair!

📺 Is that a toothpick or a flux capacitor? Oh wait, it’s Google Sheets. | Domains 2019 | Jeff Everhart, Tom Woodward, Matt Roberts

Watched Is that a toothpick or a flux capacitor? Oh wait, it's Google Sheets. by Jeff Everhart, Tom Woodward, Matt Roberts from Domains 2019 | YouTube

Are you looking for low stakes ways to store and display data? Welp, here’s Google Sheets. Do you want to automate all of the boring parts of your job and sip a drink on a beach somewhere? Looks like you owe Google Sheets a beer. Have you ever wanted to build a lightweight full stack application without spinning up an orchestrated Docker container cluster running on AWS using Typescript that has 90% unit test coverage. Well, hold on to your hats, cause Google Sheets is about to hit 88 MPH while keeping your molecular structure intact.

At VCU’s ALT Lab, we’ve used Google Sheets to build educational experiences that range from novel, to complex, to entirely absurd. Brace yourself for temporal displacement and a little but of JavaScript.

There’s some low-level stuff here that could be dovetailed with IFTTT.com to do some simple automation for maybe doing Snarfed’s backfeed problem.

📺 Embedded in the Fabric: Georgetown Domains and the Master’s of Learning, Design, and Technology | Lee Skallerup Bessette, Randal Ellsworth | Domains 2019

Watched Embedded in the Fabric: Georgetown Domains and the Master's of Learning, Design, and Technology by Lee Skallerup Bessette, Randal Ellsworth from YouTube

The mission of the new Master’s of Learning, Design, and Technology program at Georgetown University is “to give our students a deep foundation in the tools and theory of learning design, technology innovation, learning analytics, and higher education leadership, a foundation on which they can create engaging and innovative learning experiences for all students.” Working in and with Georgetown Domains is a key part of this engagement; the students learn about and create their domains during the opening week-long foundations course, and build on it throughout the duration of the degree, ending with a final portfolio on their domain of their work. In between, the students have the option of taking a one-credit course in Domains, as well as showcasing their coursework and projects on the site. For some, their personal Domains specifically and Georgetown Domains more generally have become the subject of their research and study. What this allows is for students to engage directly with the technology, as well as questions of accessibility, privacy, surveillance, and tools. They learn about and apply these lessons as they move through the program, perform and reflect on their research, and build their sites. But most importantly, this allows for students to own their own intellectual property, as well as provide the tools to apply what they have learned in a practical and holistic way. The e-portfolio requirement at the end of the degree highlights this commitment to students’ intellectual property as well as professionalization, while also providing an experimental and reflective space for students to connect their work. This short presentation will discuss curricular examples (Intro week, Domains course, Studio and Studio Capstone) of how Domains has been integrated into the program, sharing some student sites, projects, and portfolios.

Slides

“Domains is a Trojan horse for thinking about ed-tech.”—Lee Skallerup Bessette

Randal Ellsworth uses the phrase “thinking space” to describe Domains here.

📺 Old School Web Hosting at an Anything-But-Old-School University | Domains 2019 | Zach Coble, Ashley Maynor

Watched Old School Web Hosting at an Anything-But-Old-School University by Zach Coble, Ashley Maynor from YouTube

While many universities strive to offer the latest and greatest tech support and IT services to support innovation, at NYU, we’ve found that old school style web hosting fills an important need and service gap for digital pedagogy, digital humanities, and other forms of innovation and creativity on campus. Offered through the NYU Libraries, our simplified, down-to-earth service is easy to manage with a small team and integrates into a larger ecosystem of digital publishing services and support on campus. Come hear about our approach and the strengths and weaknesses we’ve encountered in our three years of offering the service.

A bit dry from my perspective, but this could be interesting to people new to managing a larger Domains project or considering doing so.

Listening to this I’m surprised they don’t have a more institutionalized version of a Homebrew Website Club set up to allow their user base to help each other.

📺 Weaponizing Your Website | Jennifer Hill

Watched Weaponizing Your Website by Jennifer HillJennifer Hill from Domains 2019 | YouTube

There is a war a raging in our cyberworld and it is time for you to join the resistance. Cambridge Analytica stealing Facebook user’s data, white supremacists getting verified on Twitter, and child pornography on Instagram. The list of atrocities continues. We as technologists know the inner workings of social media platforms more than anybody. We see the hypocrisy and the evil of social media platforms in a way that most people do not. It is time for us to awaken from our passivity and take a stance against our corporate social media overlords. Weaponizing Your Website will give you ideas, or ammunition, to fight against our broken social media world. This bootcamp will include learning how to utilize the strongest weapons in your stockpile; your voice and your website. With me, Jenn Hill, a University of Mary Washington student, at the helm I will prepare you for taking up arms and battling the corporate social media tyrants.

Slides

Jenn is only scratching the surface here. Mike Monteiro just wrote the entire book on this. He makes her sound almost overly sane!

Jenn, you should definitely join us at IndieWeb Summit at the end of June. If you can’t join in person, do consider joining us remotely via video and online chat.

📺 Against Blogging | Zach Whalen | Domains 2019

Watched Against Blogging by Zach WhalenZach Whalen from Domains 2019 | YouTube

For the past 15 years, I’ve included blog assignments in my classes as a default, routine, and generally low-stakes assignment. It began with a simple journal where students kept track of their progress through a video game, and through the years, the assignment has ranged from similarly simple logs or progress reports to the more ornate and decorous “features articles” where students seek to emulate magazine writing and engage with a public audience. At times, like when having a platform online was still a novelty and the adrenaline rush of Web 2.0-fueled activism took flight in the optimism of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, blogging totally made sense. As a classroom experience, a blog assignment helped students find their digital identity through written expression. By finding their voice digitally, students found themselves.

But while this will still happen, and while I still see brilliant writing from my students, the era when the exigency of a blog assignment can be reliably vindicated by an authentic external audience has ended. It’s time for something else, which means it’s time to re-evaluate what blogs have been and what we have needed them for in order to find the best ways to meet those goals through other means. In this short presentation, I will offer several suggestions.

This is, however, an aspirational proposal. I’m writing this between semesters as I reflect on the Fall — where blog assignments didn’t always meet my goals or in some cases arguably undermined other goals for my class — and thinking ahead to the Spring — when I hope to implement some new assignments based on this recent conviction about the ineffectuality of blog assignments. Therefore, by June, my expectation is that I will have something new to report: either finding success with an entirely new set of assignments and corresponding tools, or returning to the familiar embrace of blog assignments with a renewed sense of their value.

Most likely, I’ll be somewhere in between, but my hunch is that different forms of discursive content creation will help students take control of their learning and find direction for their digital identities. Whatever I find in the coming semester, I’m confident that I’ll be ready to share some insight into the intents, purposes, and outcomes of inviting students to do intellectual work on the internet of 2019.

Notes as they occur to me while I’m watching this video:

To me blogging is a means of thinking out loud.

Of course having a site doesn’t mean one is blogging. In fact, in my case, I’m collecting bits and pieces on my site like a digital commonplace book, and out of those collections come some quick basic thoughts, and often some longer pieces, which could be called blog posts, but really are essays that help to shape my thinking. I really wish more people would eschew social media and use their own websites this way.

We need to remember that a website or domain is FAR, FAR more than just a simple blog. 

It kills me how many in the edtech/Domains space seem to love memes. It’s always cute and fun, but they feel so vapid and ineffectual. It’s like copying someone else’s work and trying to pass it off as our own. English teachers used to say, “Don’t be cliché,” but now through the use of digital memes they’re almost encouraging it. Why not find interesting images and create something new and dramatically different.  (I can’t help but think of the incredibly unique Terry Gilliam “cartoons” in Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the phrase “and now for something completely different…”.

Zach uses the phrase “personal learning journal” but doesn’t quite get to the idea of using domains as digital commonplace books.  He also looks at other social sites like Tik-Tok, Instagram stories, YouTube channels, and Twitter hashtags, but doesn’t consider that what those things are could easily be contained within one’s own personal site/domain. The IndieWeb has been hacking away at just this for several years now. What he’s getting at here, but isn’t quite saying is “Why can’t we expand the Domain beyond the restrained idea of “just a blog.” And isn’t that just the whole point of the IndieWeb movement? Your website can literally be anything you want it to be! Just go do it. Invent. Iterate. Have fun!

Zack should definitely take a look at what one can do with Webmention. See: Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet. I suppose some of the restraint is that most people don’t know that it’s relatively easy now to get one domain to be able to talk to another domain the way social sites like Facebook and Twitter do @mentions. And once you’ve got that, there’s a whole lot more you can do!

Perhaps what we should do is go back to the early web and the idea of “small pieces, loosely joined“. What can we do with all the smaller, atomized pieces of the web? How can we use these building blocks in new and unexpected ways? To build new and exciting things? What happens when you combine Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Blogger, Soundcloud, Foursquare, Flickr, Goodreads, Periscope, Lobsters, TikTok, Quora, Zotero, Flipboard, GitHub, Medium, Huffduffer, Plurk, etc., etc. altogether and mix them up in infinite ways? You get Domains! You may get something as cutting edge–but still relatively straight-laced–as Aaron Parecki’s website, which you might have to dig into to realize just how much he’s got going on there, or you might end up with something as quirky and cool as Kicks Condor’s site or his discovery/syndication channel Indieweb.xyz.

Want to be able to use your website to highlight and mark up what you read? Go ahead and do that! I have. You could keep a record of everything you watch or listen to. Make a food diary. Track where you’ve been. Want to keep collections of chicken related things so your site can have a chicken feed? Go crazy!!