Lawrence Lessig shakes the faithful?

TNR: Lawrence Lessig: Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.

Yes – you read that title right.

Lessig connects the dots from newspapers to the music industry and the ripple effects taking place – everything having to do with the architecture of the Internet and the dynamics set forth.

You need to read the full piece because it is not ‘against transparency’ – far from it – but it does call for a sense of concern and realism to settle into conversations about transparency as means to an end. Ultimately, in regards to government, it is a call to reform, specifically election finance reform – and I agree with much of it.

Reformers rarely feel responsible for the bad that their fantastic new reform effects. Their focus is always on the good. The bad is someone else’s problem. It may well be asking too much to imagine more than this. But as we see the consequences of changes that many of us view as good, we might wonder whether more good might have been done had more responsibility been in the mix. The music industry was never going to like the Internet, but its war against the technology might well have been less hysterical and self-defeating if better and more balanced alternatives had been pressed from the beginning. No one can dislike Craigslist (or Craig), but we all would have benefited from a clearer recognition of what was about to be lost. Internet triumphalism is not a public good.

Likewise with transparency. There is no questioning the good that transparency creates in a wide range of contexts, government especially. But we should also recognize that the collateral consequence of that good need not itself be good. And if that collateral bad is busy certifying to the American public what it thinks it already knows, we should think carefully about how to avoid it. Sunlight may well be a great disinfectant. But as anyone who has ever waded through a swamp knows, it has other effects as well.


O’Reilly Radar: Carl Malamud: Larry Lessig and Naked Transparency

David Larry Lessig: Beyond Transparency, and Net Triumphalism

Aaron Swartz: Transparency Is Bunk

“Programming is an exercise in overcoming how wrong you’ve been in the past.”

Kickingbear: “Blog Archive » Don’t Be A Dick: Compiled Flash and You.”:

Programming is an exercise in overcoming how wrong you’ve been in the past. At first you’ll overcome the syntax errors, then you’ll overcome the structural errors, and then you’ll come to align your code with the standards of a greater community and you’ll feel safe and like you’ve made it. You haven’t – you’re still wrong because you’re always wrong. You are playing a game you cannot win. And let’s face it – if it was a game you could win you’d not be playing at all.

via Arpit’s Web Quotes tumblr

Comic books dealing with mental illness

Darryl Cunningham is a comic book creator, blogger, sculptor and more. He also spent time working in a psychiatric ward.

He is chronicling his experience working in a psychiatric ward in a new graphic novel titled “Psychiatric Tales”. He’s been posting draft chapters of of the book on his blog over the past year.

Every chapter has been speaking to me on one level or another, but I want to call out two for now: “It Could Be You” and “People With Mental Illness Enhance Our Lives”

Along a similar vein is “LOGICOMIX”, a graphic novel documenting the experience of some of the largest names in mathematics, and what they sacrificed to make their contributions, including, sometimes, their mental health.

Links on thinking, parenting, teaching, creating for October 4th, 2009 Inside the Baby Mind:

One of the most surprising implications of this new research concerns baby consciousness, or what babies actually experience as they interact with the outside world. While scientists and doctors have traditionally assumed that babies are much less conscious than adults – this is why, until the 1970s, many infants underwent surgery without anesthesia – that view is being overturned. Gopnik argues that, in many respects, babies are more conscious than adults. She compares the experience of being a baby with that of watching a riveting movie, or being a tourist in a foreign city, where even the most mundane activities seem new and exciting. “For a baby, every day is like going to Paris for the first time,” Gopnik says. “Just go for a walk with a 2-year-old. You’ll quickly realize that they’re seeing things you don’t even notice.” Thinking literally: The surprising ways that metaphors shape your world:

Metaphors aren’t just how we talk and write, they’re how we think. At some level, we actually do seem to understand temperament as a form of temperature, and we expect people’s personalities to behave accordingly. What’s more, without our body’s instinctive sense for temperature–or position, texture, size, shape, or weight–abstract concepts like kindness and power, difficulty and purpose, and intimacy and importance would simply not make any sense to us.

NYTimes: Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control? :

In the end, the most lasting effect of the Tools of the Mind studies may be to challenge some of our basic ideas about the boundary between work and play. Today, play is seen by most teachers and education scholars as a break from hard work or a reward for positive behaviors, not a place to work on cognitive skills. But in Tools of the Mind classrooms, that distinction disappears: work looks a lot like play, and play is treated more like work. When I asked Duckworth about this, she said it went to the heart of what was new and potentially important about the program. “We often think about play as relaxing and doing what you want to do,” she explained. “Maybe it’s an American thing: We work really hard, and then we go on vacation and have fun. But in fact, very few truly pleasurable moments come from complete hedonism. What Tools does — and maybe what we all need to do — is to blur the line a bit between what is work and what is play. Just because something is effortful and difficult and involves some amount of constraint doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.”

NurtureShock: Are Time-outs for Tots Conditional Love? :

The real problem with Kohn’s articles is that, already, there is a lot of confusion about when to praise, and his pieces just add to it. They give the impression that parents must make a choice between unconditional love on the one side, and praise and punishment on the other. And that’s just not true.

Most research finds that kids need rules and structure – not as a form of prison, but a scaffold of autonomy they can build on.

Oberlin College professor Nancy Darling has surveyed thousands of adolescents, in the US, the Philippines, and Chile. She’s found that when parents set no rules, or when parents fail to enforce rules they’ve set, it sends a message that parents simply don’t care about their kids’ well-being or the kids’ actions. The adolescents think the parents just can’t be bothered by their transgressions.

While combining praise with a statement of love is problematic. For example, “You’re such a smart girl, and I love you,” sends a child a message that if she’s no longer is smart, the love will stop. But there’s nothing in the research that says parents should stop saying, “I love you.” It just that they should stop combining displays of love and affection and praise for achievement. Keep them separate. Once again, this isn’t an either or situation.

Stanford professor Carol Dweck’s perspective on praise is that – when we praise or punish – we need to make it clear that we are responding to what a child does, not who they are. We shouldn’t say “Bad Boy!” when the kid breaks a vase, and we shouldn’t say “Boy Genius!” when he made a vase in art class. Both “Bad Boy” and “Boy Genius” are wild overstatements of what we really think.

Instead, we can simply say, “You know you shouldn’t play ball in the house,” and “You worked really hard on that vase, didn’t you?” those are fine.

Beyond the moment, they teach children that we pay attention to what they are doing, and that we can be trusted to give them a fair and accurate response when they need it. Lessons we want them to remember when they’re 17, and they have a broken heart or just had a fender-bender.

As I said earlier, we just don’t have to make a choice between praise, punishment and unconditional love. That’s just a false choice.

“Connect with yourself, connect with others, connect with the world, connect with the Infinite”

Read – “The Freak Revolution Manifesto” (via Susie Madrak)

There’s a lot in the piece that resonates, but the parts that cheer you on to opt-out of various things, well they stand in opposition to connection, to “coming off the mountaintop” as the paper puts it. So it is a piece that is at odds with itself.

Still, its worth a good read.

Some supporting science – BioEd Online: Conformists may kill civilizations

And from Bruce Eckel comes some related thoughts after reading Po Bronson’s “What Should I Do With My Life?”:

I’m reading Po Bronson’s “What Should I Do With My Life?” which is brilliant on many levels. For one thing, it’s the anti-self-help book; it’s just stories from talking to people, and by no means is everyone successful.

And it’s dense, by which I mean not fluffy but packed with insight. He spent years researching and developing this book, and his own struggle is woven into it. Indeed, it’s not about formulas and answers, but about the struggle itself.

One observation set me back. There are lots of people who wanted to do one thing but then got “practical” and did something else “first.” The idea was that they’d be successful and sock away money doing the practical thing, and after that they could go back to the thing they loved. Bronson was sure that, among the hundreds of people that he interviewed, someone would actually have been successful with this strategy. It sounds so reasonable, after all.

But he encountered exactly zero people who pulled it off. Everyone who tried got sucked into the “practical” career and were never able to extract themselves from it. Too comfortable, too many expectations from friends and family, too easy just to keep doing what you’re doing.

These are connected: Future of Journalism Links and Communication for September 23, 2009

Ethan Zuckerman covered a Clay Shirky talk given at the Shorenstein Center” on journalism today and its future. It’s an absolute must read for media/info/com future thinkers: “Clay Shirky and accountability journalism”.

Mark Bowden traces the path a story takes, from political operatives, thru social media, to mainstream news, in the The Atlantic piece“The Story Behind The Story”. Another must read.

Paul Graham: Post-Medium Publishing. Slashdot thread.

Mathew Ingram: Micropayments for news: The holy grail or just a dangerous delusion?

The Atlantic: The Rise of the Professional Blogger

And finally, Timothy Egan attacks an entire subset of the population for their passion based on a lack of facts, missing the point that he is working for a member of the industry that has a role in that: “Working Class Zero”

You can influence a 1,000 people to make a better world – Yes You!

Don’t think you have any influence in this world? You have far more impact than you may realize.

Read this weekend’s NYTimes’s piece by Clive Thompson: Is Happiness Catching?.

As Rebecca Blood notes, your behavior has ripple effects that trigger changes in weight, smoking, and happiness in friends, family, coworkers and people associated with them.

Why are we happy? Dan Gillbert asks, Why are we happy?:

…When our ambition is bounded, it leads us to work joyfully. When our ambition is unbounded, it leads us to lie, to cheat, to steal, to hurt others, to sacrifice things of real value. When our fears are bounded, we’re prudent, we’re cautious, we’re thoughtful. When our fears are unbounded and overblown, we’re reckless, and we’re cowardly.

The lesson I want to leave you with from these data is that our longings and our worries are both to some degree overblown, because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience.

Quotable – out of context – but worth it – on maybe why Bill O’Reilly is more popular than Bill Moyers?

Alan Kay on comp.lang.smalltalk.squeak.beginners: Re: Smalltalk Data Structures and Algorithms:

What is wrong? Why is mere opinion so dominating discussions held on the easiest medium there has ever been that can provide substantiations with just a little curiosity and work? Is the world completely reverting to an oral culture of assertions held around an electronic campfire?

That quote is going to be passed around a lot.

It’s a one paragraph penetrating question into why the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world have so much more popularity then those who pursue the fact based journalism that a Bill Moyers pursues.

BTW – Howard Rheingold’s recent post at SFGate, “Crap Detection 101” is highly recommended (via Rebecca Blood).