Read A Skeptical Farmer’s Monster Message on Profitability by Chris BennettChris Bennett (AG Web)
Adam Chappell was a slave to pigweed. In 2009, several years prior to the roller coaster rise and fall of commodity prices, he was on the brink of bankruptcy and facing a go broke or go green proposition. Drowning in a whirlpool of input costs, Chappell cut bait from conventional agriculture and dove headfirst into a bootstrap version of innovative farming. Roughly 10 years later, his operation is transformed, and the 41-year-old grower doesn’t mince words: It was all about the money.
Interesting to read this after hearing the experimental anthropologist Scott Lacy talk about farming technologies in Africa earlier this morning in Anthropology and the Study of Humanity. The African farmers described sounded much more in touch with their needs and their land than the majority of American farmers apparently are. Based on this, it almost sounds like Big AG has been doing to the industry what ride sharing tech companies are trying to do elsewhere, they’re just doing it with different tactics.
 
Somehow AG Web seems like the sort of journal I ought to check in on occasionally. 
Read What's wrong with WhatsApp by William Davies (the Guardian)
The long read: As social media has become more inhospitable, the appeal of private online groups has grown. But they hold their own dangers – to those both inside and out.

Theory on Cultural Changes with Respect to Mnemonics and the Ten Commandments in Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and specifically within Judaism

And God spoke:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens above, on the earth beneath, or in the waters below.
–Exodus 20:1-4

I have a hypothesis that the admonition in the ten commandments to have no other gods nor to worship idols was the result of a power struggle among early peoples on the border of nomadic lives and settling down into agricultural lifeways. These peoples may likely have been associating their memories not only to standing stones, portable items (the Ark of the Covenant as an example which was historically said to be carried into war), or small idols and graven images.

By removing peoples’ valuable cultural and societal memories over several generations, a ruling priestly class, particularly in a society with not evenly distributed writing and literacy, would have been more easily able to aggregate power within the culture to itself. From a cultural perspective it would also have put an extreme emphasis on writing, literacy, and learning with them. Is this part of an explanation for why Jewish culture still has such an emphasis on these tools thousands of years later?

This obviously needs to be thought out further with supporting evidence from the historical and archaeological record, but on first blush, I feel like the evidence for this hypothesis generally exists.

If I’m right, then these few sentences have had a far more dramatic influence on Western and even human culture than we have previously thought.

Featured Image: The Crusader Bible, MS M.638, fol. 39v, Paris, France, ca. 1244–1254, 390 x 300 mm, via the Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased by J.P. Morgan (1867–1943) in 1916
David’s Greatest Triumph, The Ark Enshrined in Jerusalem, David Blesses Israel
Old Testament Miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions
David retrieves the Ark of the Covenant from Obed-Edom’s house, and a jubilant celebration ensues as the triumphant king, playing upon his harp, leads it into Jerusalem. Once the Ark has come six paces into the city, a sacrifice is made of an ox and a ram. No one is more overjoyed than the king himself, who dances and leaps before the procession. David’s wild behavior embarrasses Michal, who points accusingly at him from her window. But the king is unconcerned, wishing only to give thanks and humble himself before God. (2 Kings 6:12–16)

Read - Want to Read: Digital Sociologies by Jessie Daniels, Karen Gregory, and Tressie McMillan Cottom (eds.) (University of Chicago Press | Bristol University Press)
520 pages | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2 | © 2016 This handbook offers a much-needed overview of the rapidly growing field of digital sociology. Rooted in a critical understanding of inequality as foundational to digital sociology, it connects digital media technologies to traditional areas of study in sociology, such as labor, culture, education, race, class, and gender. It covers a wide variety of topics, including web analytics, wearable technologies, social media analysis, and digital labor. The result is a benchmark volume that places the digital squarely at the forefront of contemporary investigations of the social.
Read A Harvard sociologist explains why we confide in strangers by Jenny AndersonJenny Anderson (Quartz)
Who did you last trust with some really personal information? 

Small says there are three reasons we might avoid those closest to us when we are grappling with problems about our health, relationships, work, or kids. 

Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 08:39PM

The first is that our closest relationships are our most complex ones. 

Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 08:39PM

The second reason is that when we are dealing with something difficult, we commonly prefer to confide in people who have been through what we are going through rather than those who know us, seeking “cognitive empathy” over guaranteed warmth or closeness. 

Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 08:40PM

The third reason is that in our moment of vulnerability, our need to talk is greater than our need to self-protect. 

Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 08:41PM

Adam Smith, writing in 1790, said we can only expect real sympathy from real friends, not from mere acquaintances. More recently, in 1973, Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter established as a bedrock of social network analysis the idea that we rely on “strong” ties (our inner circle) for support and weak ties (our acquaintances) for information. 

Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 08:43PM

Read The Evolving Exhibition of Us: A Decade of Sharing Pictures Online : Adjacent Issue 6 by Summer Bedard (itp.nyu.edu)
A deep examination and self-reflection on photo sharing of the last decade, Summer Bedard’s article looks at how the previously intimate, cumbersome experience has morphed into the edited, contrived perfection found on Instagram.

The explosion of people, marked a shift from having a community to having an audience. This ultimately changed the mental model of what gets posted. People act differently in their living room than they do on stage. They may feel more vulnerable and guarded. You’re sharing with a community, but working for an audience.

–November 28, 2019 at 09:42PM

I would love to see a future where enjoying photos becomes more like enjoying music. Spotify gives you an easy way to consider options by assessing your mood and putting together an appropriate playlist that feels personal. We could do the same for images. Can you imagine opening Spotify and having it blast a random song immediately? Our current Instagram home screen is the visual equivalent of a playlist mashup of country, classical, techno, hip hop, and polka. 

I like the idea of this. Can someone build it please?
–November 28, 2019 at 09:46PM

What if you could use AI to control the content in your feed? Dialing up or down whatever is most useful to you. If I’m on a budget, maybe I don’t want to see photos of friends on extravagant vacations. Or, if I’m trying to pay more attention to my health, encourage me with lots of salads and exercise photos. If I recently broke up with somebody, happy couple photos probably aren’t going to help in the healing process. Why can’t I have control over it all, without having to unfollow anyone. Or, opening endless accounts to separate feeds by topic. And if I want to risk seeing everything, or spend a week replacing my usual feed with images from a different culture, country, or belief system, couldn’t I do that, too? 

Some great blue sky ideas here.
–November 28, 2019 at 09:48PM

👓 Feed Reading By Social Distance | Ton Zijlstra

Read Feed Reading By Social Distance by Ton Zijlstra (zylstra.org)
At the Crafting {:} a Life unconference one of the things that came up in our conversations was how you take information in, while avoiding the endlessly scrolling timelines of FB and Twitter as well as FOMO. My description of how I read feeds ‘by social distance‘ was met with curiosity and ‘c...
Ton’s archives have some more material on this topic, but it’s definitely an interesting way to sort and filter one’s feeds.

👓 The cheater in the Oval Office should be banished from the tribe | LA Times

Read The cheater in the Oval Office should be banished from the tribe by Virginia Heffernan (LA Times)
Think Trump didn't know he was getting a shady assist at the ballot box. Read the Mueller report.
Replied to Deviance and Hallmark Christmas Movies by Tressie McMillan CottomTressie McMillan Cottom (tressiemc)
The title is click-bait. If you follow me on That Social Media site you know two things about me: I love Dolly Parton and I am mad for Hallmark Christmas movies. As the former goes without saying, …
I’ve got the same Hallmark  Channel Christmas movie affliction. I’ve created a list of common Hallmark Movie “things” that I often use as a drinking game, but as you highlight, I really ought to have it as a larger Bingo card. I’ll have to start working on it soon though as I expect this year’s “Countdown to Christmas” will start sometime just after Labor Day.

I do wish you had the time to write the Hallmark Christmas movie book–it would make a fascinating read. I’ll bite at the question about why the “dead parent” is your favorite, but I’d be more interested in your take on the premier of this past years’ Memories of Christmas which breaks some of the traditional molds. Like all the rest of their originals, I’m sure(?) they’ll rerun it in subsequent years.

It turns out I know two of the writers of the Memories of Christmas production. At least one of them mentioned a Hallmark Movie “playbook” though she didn’t indicate if it was one internally created by the network or if it was her own as I suspect that she’s got the same affliction some of us other “fans” do.

🔖 Why Is Digital Sociology? | Tressie McMillan Cottom

Bookmarked Why Is Digital Sociology? by Tressie McMillan CottomTressie McMillan Cottom (tressiemc)
Any attempt at knowledge production has to answer the basic question of what it is. But, before long, it must also address the question of why it is. As early as the 1990s sociologists were asking …

📖 Read Chapter 1: A Networked Public pages 3-27 of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci

📖 Read Chapter 1: A Networked Public pages 3-27 of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci

Book cover of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci

Chapter 1 was pretty solid. This almost seems to me like it would make a good book for an IndieWeb book club.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

A national public sphere with a uniform national language did not exist in Turkey at the time. Without mass media and a strong national education system, languages exist as dialects that differ in pronunciation, vocabulary, and even grammar, sometimes from town to town.  

What I’m understanding about the text is that it was hard for Turkish to interact with one another since there was no official language and how these girls for enforced to master this one language.—beatrizrocio

I suspect that it wasn’t the case that they had trouble communicating via speech, but that the formal language was more difficult for them. Typically most languages have a “high” (proper) form and a “low” (colloquial) form. Think of it more like the King’s Standard English versus the speech of an illiterate inner-city youth. They can both understand each other, but one could read and understand the New York Times, but the other would have significant trouble.

December 26, 2018 at 12:33PM

Political scientist Benedict Anderson called this phenomenon of unification “imagined communities.”  

December 26, 2018 at 12:35PM

Technologies alter our ability to preserve and circulate ideas and stories, the ways in which we connect and converse, the people with whom we can interact, the things that we can see, and the structures of power that oversee the means of contact.  

December 26, 2018 at 12:37PM

As technologies change, and as they alter the societal architectures of visi-bility, access, and community, they also affect the contours of the public sphere, which in turn affects social norms and political structures.  

December 26, 2018 at 12:40PM

For example, in a society that is solely oral or not very literate, older people (who have more knowledge since knowledge is acquired over time and is kept in one’s mind) have more power relative to young people who cannot simply acquire new learning by reading.  

To a large extent, this is also part of the reason we respect our elders so much today, although this is starting to weaken as older people are increasingly seen as “behind the times” or don’t understand new technologies…

December 26, 2018 at 12:45PM

In her lifetime, my grandmother journeyed from a world confined to her immediate physical community to one where she now carries out video conversations over the internet with her grandchildren on the other side of the world, cheaply enough that we do not think about their cost at all. She found her first train trip to Istanbul as a teenager—something her peers would have done rarely—to be a bewildering experience, but in her later years she flew around the world. Both the public sphere and our imagined communities operate differently now than they did even a few decades ago, let alone a century.  

It’s nice to consider the impact of the technologies around us and this paragraph does a solid job of showing just that in the span of a single generation’s lifetime.

December 26, 2018 at 12:47PM

movements, among other things, are attempts to intervene in the public sphere through collective, coordinated action. A social movement is both a type of (counter)public itself and a claim made to a public that a wrong should be righted or a change should be made.13 Regardless of whether movements are attempt-ing to change people’s minds, a set of policies, or even a government, they strive to reach and intervene in public life, which is centered on the public sphere of their time.  

a solid definition of what a movement is

December 26, 2018 at 12:49PM

Governments and powerful people also expend great efforts to control the public sphere in their own favor because doing so is a key method through which they rule and exercise power.  

December 26, 2018 at 12:49PM

homophily  

December 26, 2018 at 12:57PM

If you cannot find people, you cannot form a community with them  

December 26, 2018 at 01:05PM

The residents’ lack of success in drawing attention and widespread support to their struggle is a scenario that has been repeated the world over for decades in coun-tries led by dictators: rebellions are drowned out through silencing and censorship.  

December 26, 2018 at 04:47PM

In his influential book The Net Delusion and in earlier essays, Morozov argued that “slacktivism” was distracting people from productive activism, and that people who were clicking on political topics online were turning away from other forms of activism for the same cause.  

December 26, 2018 at 04:58PM

Another line of reasoning has been that internet is a minority of the pop-ulation. This is true; even as late as 2009, the internet was limited to a small minority of households in the Middle East.  

December 26, 2018 at 05:05PM

Only a segment of the population needs to be connected digitally to affect the entire environment. In Egypt in 2011, only 25 percent of the population of the country was on-line, with a smaller portion of those on Facebook, but these people still managed to change the wholesale public discussion, including conversa-tions among people who had never been on the site.  

There’s some definite connection to this to network theory of those like Stuart Kaufmann. You don’t need every node to be directly connected to create a robust network, particularly when there are other layers–here interpersonal connections, cellular, etc.

December 26, 2018 at 05:07PM

Two key constituencies for social movements are also early adopters: activists and journalists  

December 26, 2018 at 05:08PM

Ethan Zuckerman calls this the “cute cat theory” of activism and the public sphere. Platforms that have nonpolitical functions can become more politically powerful because it is harder to censor their large num-bers of users who are eager to connect with one another or to share their latest “cute cat” pictures.  

December 26, 2018 at 05:13PM

Social scientists call the person connecting these two otherwise separate clusters a “bridge tie.” Research shows that weak ties are more likely to be bridges between disparate groups.  

December 26, 2018 at 05:18PM

As Ali explained it to me, for him, January 25, 2011, was in many ways an ordinary January 25—officially a “police celebration day,” but traditionally a day of protest. Although he was young, he was a veteran activist. He and a small group of fellow activists gathered each year in Tahrir on January 25 to protest police brutality. January 25, 2011, was not their first January 25 pro-test, and many of them expected something of a repeat of their earlier protests—perhaps a bit larger this year.  

This mirrors the story of the rape that preceded the Rosa Parks protests in Alabama several years prior and helped set the stage for that being successful.
It’s often frequent that bigger protests are staged to take place on dates/times that have historical meaning.

December 26, 2018 at 05:31PM

His weak-tie networks had been politically activated  

This makes me wonder if she’s cited Mark Granovetter or any of similar sociologists yet?
Apparently she did in footnote 32 in chapter 1. Ha!

December 26, 2018 at 05:37PM

or example, it has been repeatedly found that in most emergencies, disasters, and protests, ordinary people are often helpful and altruistic.  

December 26, 2018 at 05:53PM

However, that desire to belong, reflecting what a person perceives to be the views of the majority, is also used by those in power to control large numbers of people, especially if it is paired with heavy punishments for the visible troublemakers who might set a diff erent example to follow. In fact, for many repressive governments, fostering a sense of loneliness among dissidents while making an example of them to scare off everyone else has long been a trusted method of ruling.  

December 26, 2018 at 05:56PM

Social scientists refer to the feeling of imagining oneself to be a lonely minority when in fact there are many people who agree with you, maybe even a majority, as “pluralistic ignorance.”39 Pluralistic ignorance is thinking that one is the only person bored at a class lecture and not knowing that the sentiment is shared, or that dissent and discontent are rare feelings in a country when in fact they are common but remain unspoken.  

December 26, 2018 at 05:57PM

Thanks to a Facebook page, perhaps for the first time in history, an in-ternet user could click yes on an electronic invitation to a revolution.  

December 26, 2018 at 06:00PM

Only a segment of the population needs to be connected digitally  

Don’t forget the power of the “sneakernet”!

December 26, 2018 at 06:59PM

🔖 The influence of collaboration networks on programming language acquisition by Sanjay Guruprasad | MIT

Bookmarked The influence of collaboration networks on programming language acquisition by Sanjay Guruprasad (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Many behaviors spread through social contact. However, different behaviors seem to require different degrees of social reinforcement to spread within a network. Some behaviors spread via simple contagion, where a single contact with an "activated node" is sufficient for transmission, while others require complex contagion, with reinforcement from multiple nodes to adopt the behavior. But why do some behaviors require more social reinforcement to spread than others? Here we hypothesize that learning more difficult behaviors requires more social reinforcement. We test this hypothesis by analyzing the programming language adoption of hundreds of thousands of programmers on the social coding platform Github. We show that adopting more difficult programming languages requires more reinforcement from the collaboration network. This research sheds light on the role of collaboration networks in programming language acquisition.

[Downloadable .pdf]

Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, 2018.; Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.; Includes bibliographical references (pages 26-28).

Advisor: César Hidalgo.

URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/119085

I ran across this paper via the Human Current interview with Cesar Hidalgo. In general they studied GitHub as a learning community and the social support of people’s friends on the platform as they worked on learning new programming languages.

I think there might be some interesting takeaways for people looking at collective learning and online pedagogies as well as for communities like the IndieWeb which are trying to not only build new technologies, but help to get them into others’ hands by teaching and disseminating some generally tough technical knowledge. (In this respect, the referenced Human Current podcast episode may be a worthwhile overview.)

🎧 Episode 47: Dick Move (MEN, Part 1) | Scene on Radio

Listened to Episode 47: Dick Move (MEN, Part 1) by John Biewen and Celeste Headlee from Scene on Radio

Launching Scene on Radio Season 3 series—MEN—co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee look at the problems of male supremacy. And we visit Deep Time to explore the latest scholarship on how, when, and why men invented patriarchy.

Featuring Meg Conkey of UC-Berkeley, Mel Konner of Emory University, and Lisa Wade of Occidental College.

Music by Alex Weston, and by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Music and production help from Joe Augustine at Narrative Music.