annicka: via modernandmaterialthings:
Despite declaring my opposition to the cult of female technosocial self-improvement, I have been plugging away at some of what they call e-Learning!
For one, I have been doing Code Academy tutorials, which I unashamedly love. I could sit at my dining room table for hours doing Code Academy, (sometimes with a glass of chardonnay). So perky, so encouraging!
But I’m also doing another Coursera course, and it leaves me so deflated. Who on earth can learn from a condescending, unedited video lecture? Moreover, if you’re gonna teach a Coursera course, which to my understanding is an unpaid gig, why be a dick?
I should hope that these snide, mumbling Coursera instructors are at barbecues this summer, and are greeted by friends and acquaintances who say “Gee, Steve! I tried to take your free online course but it was totally impenetrable! Half the time I couldn’t tell what you were saying, beyond that your tone implied that I was stupid!”
Maybe one disruptive effect of MOOCs will be how they reveal the poor state of tech pedagogy.
I’ve spent too much time doing grapevines back and forth behind a Reebok step to really be able to think objectively about modern gym culture, but I have come up with a few hypotheses: Maybe we’re craving an outlet for a competitive drive that would be inappropriate in other social situations. Or, perhaps we are trying to create a sense of meaning and satisfaction in our likely perfectly-fine-but-maybe-a-little-bit-boring lives.
I love a nutty spinning class article.
It’s a cyclic thing: get overwhelmed by daily life, the working on this, getting to that, taking care of this, going here, reminding myself i should be doing that. Then something flies up into internet conscious: buckle down ladies! work harder! feminist housewives! don’t be rude in calling out deplorable human behavior!
For the past few months, I’ve been casually studying the rhetoric of technosocial self-betterment for ladies: Learn to code! Be a better worker! Take MOOC courses! Maybe I’m hopeless, but I find the promise of this so specious. All of this seems to be on the order of self-improvement, what Laura Kipinis calls “the girlfriend industry”. Self sufficiency is a nice thought but a terrible means for social change.
Can we declare a ban on proscriptives, or at least an agreement that they are all basically camp on the order of Cosmo articles? So much mass-anxiety is triggered by cheap attempts to point out or patch systematic societal failures.
What are the alternatives to this? I have visions of 1990s anti-oppression workshops.
On the way to a longer reflection — one day, I don’t know exactly when — on my ambivalent feelings about the circulation of that quote that regards how very, very special it is to be in graduate school (which incommensurati responded to so wonderfully), I’m just going to put this right here: Thinking about mentoring can tell us something about the cluster of promises, the attachments and fantasies, and generally, the double-bind that defines the place of minority discourse in the academy. Doing so also helps us to remember that the university was never a utopian institution, that the current potent rhetoric of its “defense” might unintentionally but deeply be linked to a fantasy of it as harboring its potentiality as such, a fantasy that can render it more difficult to negotiate contemporary conditions, to navigate the academic world and understand the constructs and conditions that privilege certain fantasies and attachments and refuse others. Acknowledgement of the ways that minority discourse sometimes refers to field-practices driven by an attachment to institutionalization per se - to what Roderick Ferguson has referred to as the “will to institutionality” - rather than something like broad-based socio-political transformation toward greater equality and justice, clarifies the importance of sussing out the conditions (structural, affective, epistemological, economic, political, aesthetic) within which the university itself takes priority as object of discourse. Why this attachment? How, in this context, do we relate to aspirations to academia? How do we relate to or apprehend our own aspirations of and to academia? Kandice Chuh, “on (not) mentoring” Social Text Website: Periscope section (published Jan. 13, 2013). — Ugly feelings indeed, via BEST SPARKLER
“Academic culture is a huge and diverse ecosystem. People who come along with grand plans about how everything is going to be transformed so often don’t have even a very shallow understanding of how that ecosystem works: You have all these Silicon Valley venture capitalists who are going to blow everything up and transform it; what you’re really talking about doing is killing all the green plants in the ecosystem and then expecting the deer to have something to eat; no; the deer are going to die. There’s this basic economic argument for the cheapness of online education that is always about requiring less labor; paying people less, replacing people with technology. And at the end of the day, what you’re going to have is a very stagnant intellectual culture.
“Who writes the textbooks? Who writes the lectures? You tape the [MOOC] lecture once, but then what happens next year? You just keep recycling the same materials over and over again? It’s like a really bad ecological management system; you think you can remove something that is really crucial to the ecosystem, and nothing else will change?”
Maria Bustillos’ piece for the Awl today, Venture Capital’s Massive, Terrible Idea For The Future Of College, is so good.
At some point I am going to write more in-depth about how I took a Coursera Python class this fall, and how poorly it went for me. It made me completely certain that liberal education is a ever-more precious commodity.
As someone who comes from a really not-fancy background and as the sort of person who finds big lecture classes incredibly hard to deal with (really, I can show you my freshman transcripts), the structure of MOOCs terrifies me. What’s worse than a bad community college? A bad community college that’s run like an internet platform.
Losse, like other women who have navigated the archaically sexist halls of new technology businesses, was still required to present a pleasing front, to “sell herself” constantly while never explicitly acknowledging what was being sold and who was buying. Facebook and companies like them deny this game, claiming that anyone with the skill to ascend the ranks can do so: Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, they like to say. Women in the Valley are somehow meant to believe this, to pretend that women’s value in this industry isn’t limited to their emotional labor, even as this industry produces companies that could not succeed without that labor. — Girl Geeks and Boy Kings, via karaj
I weaned Letty over New Year’s, and it was a relief. I was lucky to have had a relatively easy time with nursing, but it is an immense relief to quit. While I was hardly a teetotaler (or more accurately, a coffee and prescripton-forgoer) it is nice to not think of your body as a contaminated food source. I often thought of the descriptions of grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free, free-roaming cows on the sides of milk cartons, and then thought of myself as a cow holding an orange pill bottle and a can of beer.
Of course, you don’t know me from adam. I could be a terrible parent; I could be lying myself. I can only ask you to believe me when I tell you that those things aren’t true. I have been married for over twenty years, my husband and I love each other, my son is bright and happy (now, on medication), we live a very Ozzie and Harriet-looking life in many ways.
Nonetheless, it would be very very easy for someone to comb through my blog and find “evidence” that these things aren’t true. When I was writing it, people sometimes did so, and wrote blog posts like yours. I can only tell you that most of what they concluded was wrong, and highly shaped by confirmation bias to fit prejudices that they already had: that educated women with children were bad mothers, that people with depression are self-involved, that my husband and I would be divorced within a year, that I was surely warping my son and should have him taken away from me. Again, none of those things were true; we are a very happy family. We have been through some hard times, and I have written about them–often with jocular (or not so jocular) exasperation, including statements like the ones you found in Liza’s blog.
It is very, very easy to pass judgment on what people write about their lives. It is very, very easy to pass judgment on parents, and especially mothers, in this culture. When one is a mother, that kind of judgment is ever-present. It makes parenting in public, let alone writing about it, difficult at times–especially when one is under stress, or when something in one’s life doesn’t fit the Ozzie and Harriet mold. Everyone has an opinion about mothering; everyone has an opinion about mental illness. — Buffalo Mama via Blue Milk
Some idiot went on a crusade last week to get as many naked snaps as possible from random users, took screenshots of them all and put them on a (now shut down) Tumblr, “Snapchat Sluts,” leading to another round of articles about how the app is just for sexting.
The narrative goes something like this: self-destructing photos have to be nude, otherwise why would they be self-destructing? Then Snapchat isn’t even a good sexting app — recent articles have pointed to the screenshot ability and the public top Snapchat friends lists as ways to get caught with your pants down or ways for your spouse to discover you cheating. — “Snapchat isn’t even a good sexting app!” This tech crunch post is kind of hilarious by how indignant it is about the alleged sexting (Your wife will catch you!) and how “whatever” it is about the Snapchat Sluts tumblr.