Archive for August, 2013

RT @MartinLutherKingJr I Have a Dream… #CivilRights

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The event, attended by over 250,000 people turned out to be a defining moment for the Civil Rights Movement. Fifty years later, the country has made great strides towards equality, but a lot remains to be done not just in terms of equality, but also in a wide range of social issues. While some of the issues of today are the same as the issues fifty years ago, new technologies and new ideas have quickly empowered us to react to these struggles in ways where we don’t yet fully understand its effect. The widespread adoption of the internet and social media have by no means replaced traditional marches like Dr. King’s, but rather it has augmented the form in which people participate in social movements. Going forward, it’s important to ask what is the effect of these new forms of activism. Will traditional marches like the one fifty years ago ever be replaced? Will online forms of protest ever match the effects of, for example, the 60’s anti-war movement? What would Dr. King make of the hundreds of thousands of people who tweet for a cause?

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 9.16.38 AM


Click on the image to see the Processing sketch. Code included.

*This post was posted in this blog in tandem with The GovLab.
**No… the tweets are not live.

Red Burns

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

I’m pretty bad at words as it is, and in moments like these, I’m especially bad at words. So I usually don’t say anything, out of fear that whatever I say will sound stupid. So instead of mine, here are hers.

Red would present this on the first day of her Applications to the incoming ITP class. (Transcribed by Chris Selleck, posted to the ITP Alumni list by Michael Colombo)


What I want you to know:
That there is a difference between the mundane and the inspired.
That the biggest danger is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge
That any human organization must inevitably juggle internal contradictions – the imperatives of efficiency and the countervailing human trade-offs
That the inherent preferences in organizations are efficiency, clarity, certainty, and perfection.
That human beings are ambiguous, uncertain, and imperfect.
That how you balance and integrate these contradictory characteristics is difficult
That imagination, not calculation, is the “difference” that makes the difference
That there is constant juggling between the inherent contradictions of a management imperative of efficiency and the human reality of ambiguity and uncertainty
That you are a new kind of professional – comfortable with analytical and creative modes of learning
That there is a knowledge shift from static knowledge to a dynamic searching paradigm
That creativity is not the game preserve of artists, but an intrinsic feature of all human activity
That in any creative endeavor you will be discomfited and that is part of learning
That there is a difference between long term success and short term flash
That there is a complex connection between social and technological trends. It is virtually impossible to unravel except by hindsight.
That you ask yourself what you want and then you work backwards.
In order to problem solve and observe, you ought to know how to: analyze, probe, question, hypothesize, synthesize, select, measure, communicate, imagine, initiate, reason, create
That organizations are really systems of cooperative activities and their coordination requires something intangible and personal that is largely a matter of relationships
What I hope for you:
That you combine that edgy mixture of self-confidence and doubt
That you have enough self-confidence to try new things
That you have enough self doubt to question
That you think of technology as a verb- not a noun
It is subtle but important difference
That you remember the issues are usually not technical
That you create opportunities to improvise.
That you provoke it. That you expect it.
That you make visible what, without you, might never have been seen
That you communicate emotion
That you create images that might take a writer ten pages to write
That you observe, imagine and create
That you look for the question, not the solution
That you are not seduced by speed and power
That you don’t see the world as a market, but rather a place that people live in – you are designing for people – not machines
That you have a stake in magic and mystery and art
That sometimes we fall back on Rousseau and separate mind from body
That you understand the value of pictures, words, and critical thinking
That poetry drives you, not hardware
That you are willing to risk, make mistakes, and learn from failure
That you develop a practice founded in critical reflection
That you build a bridge between theory and practice
That you embrace the unexpected
That you value serendipity
That you reinvent and re-imagine
That you listen. That you ask questions.That you speculate and experiment
That you play. That you are spontaneous.That you collaborate.
That you welcome students form other parts of the world and understand we don’t live in a monolithic world
That each day is magic for you
That you turn your thinking upside down
That you make whole pieces out of disparate parts
That you find what makes the difference
That your curiosity knows no bounds
That you understand what looks easy is hard
That you imagine and re-imagine
That you develop a moral compass
That you welcome loners, cellists, and poets
That you are flexible. That you are open.
That you can laugh at yourself. That you are kind.
That you consider why natural phenomena seduce us
That you engage and have a wonderful time
That this will be 2 years for you to expand- take advantage of it
Appolinaire said: – Come to the edge, -It’s too high, – Come to the edge, – We might fall, – Come to the Edge, – And he pushed them and they flew


R.I.P. Red Burns


Pushing Policy Through Mexican Telenovelas

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

In recent Mexican news, there has been some talk about an energy reform. One of the biggest and most contentious issues being discussed is whether the state-owned oil company, PEMEX, should be allowed to receive foreign investment. Whether it should or it shouldn’t is not the topic of this post.

A couple of months ago, a YouTube user uploaded this clip from the telenovela Corazón Indomable.

Translating, and attempting to keep the tone of the conversation, the dialog goes something like this:

Woman 1: “Is there an inconvenience ma’am?”

Woman 2: “I didn’t think that a foreigner could have property in this island.”

Woman 1: “Yes, we are happy that is so. We would be sad if we didn’t have investment from abroad.”

Woman 2: “Why?”

Woman 1: “Because places prosper with everyone’s talent, national and foreign.”

Woman 2: “Hmm, but foreigners take the money with them, no?

Woman 1: “Money comes and goes, what you’re talking about with the Emir, he practically leaves it here because he spends it here.”

[Some talk about the Emir.]

Woman 2: “Well, every day you learn something new.”

Woman 1: “And what did you learn today?”

Woman 2: “Well, that foreign investment is really necessary and convenient.”

Woman 1: “Don’t doubt it. Without disparaging the national ones, of course.”

Woman 2: “Well, thanks for everything and good day.”

Woman 1: “Good day, excuse me.”

This telenovela is produced by Mexico’s largest media company (and largest in the Spanish-speaking world), Televisa. Televisa generated a lot of controversy during last year’s presidential election because of an alleged secret collaboration between the PRI and Televisa. The media company has been criticized for it’s low quality content and often ridiculous telenovelas (if you don’t speak Spanish, I’m sorry, you’re missing out), but I’m not sure I have seen this blatant use of telenovelas to convince the public of a political agenda before. It even gets didactic in the end when the woman asks “And what did you learn today?”

In a country where only two companies (Televisa and TV Azteca) own practically all TV content in Spanish, it is becoming increasingly important to make sure more people have access to the internet, where they would have access to a broader variety of media content, and as the Soraya meme shows, would even have the ability to ridicule such horrible TV .