Great women figures in science: Barbara McClintock

Image available here

I am thinking of establishing a new thread in this blog starting from a woman who is apparently not related to my field, however, as I read has left the world with a huge legacy in rethinking gene regulation. The theory she developed in early 1950’s described that mobile elements regulated the genes by inhibiting or modulating their action (what is currently known as transposons). Despite her colleagues opposition and doubt she continued to gather evidence for her claims and had to wait for about 30 years before her contribution was finally acknowledged ending up with McClintock getting a Nobel prize for her discoveries. For more on McClintock visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_McClintock

Emergence & Complexity Lecture

Just spent the last couple of hours listening to Prof. Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University. This was a 11 year old lecture on emergence and I’ve enjoyed every single argument and every single story he said. I can’t believe how lucky we are to have access to this kind of input on the click of a button. Interestingly (and also ironically) enough, he concludes his lecture discussing bottom-up emergent phenomena: people not needing experts or blueprints to tell them how to go about, just randomness and simple rules that in high quantity produce quality. This is around the time first xMOOCs showed up and connectivist theory was taking off. I can’t believe how related the two are.

e-waste/ death waste

Image available here (@) Kai Löffelbein

Accra, Ghana is one of the main destination for e-waste. But that’s not all. Since computers contain gold, silver and copper, 700 people -amongst them also children- smash the computers to retrieve the aforementioned materials. According to the Guardian article most get cancer and die by the time they are in their 20’s.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2014/feb/27/agbogbloshie-worlds-largest-e-waste-dump-in-pictures

Kai Löffelbein further travelled to cities in India and China that also host e-waste facilities, only to find air-pollution levels even more alarming. “The only real solution to the rising tide of e-waste may be for consumers to give up their mania for the new new thing,” he says (See Wired 2018 article: The Hellish E-Waste Graveyards Where Computers Are Mined for Metal). His book entitled CTRL-X on the topography of e-waste is available on Amazon.

The double life of Modernism

One of the most refreshing articles I have read recently: a full on comparison between two people; two projects and two conflicting ideologies. But, most importantly, a reflection on how design decisions are informed and in turn inform our thinking and living under the underlying -and quite ironic if I may add- contradiction between ideals and the real world. Excellent read.

https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/enzo-mari-ikea-design/

Circular Building Products ProfEd, starts March 31!

So excited that our ProfEd Circular Building Products for a Sustainable Built Environment is up for a second run, starting on March 31! Watch our new teaser video to see what the course is about and who else is involved.

For more information and registrations please visit: https://online-learning.tudelft.nl/courses/circular-building-products-for-a-sustainable-built-environment/

Looking forward to working with you in turning your product into a circular one!


Big thanks to Peter Van Assche (@PrettyPlactic), Casper van der Meer (BetterFutureFactory), Olaf Blaauw, Laura Rosen Jacobson (@Buurman), Martijn Veerman (@Alkondor) & Monique Fledderman (@VMGR). And thanks to @HansdeJonge from @Oculus for the great work in making this video!

The DORA Declaration

Image available here

DORA Aims:

  • eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations
  • assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published
  • capitalize on the opportunities provided by online publication

Dora Goals:

  • improve research by strengthening research assessment
  • changes in academic culture to ensure that hiring, promotion, and funding decisions focus on the qualities of research that are most desirable – insight, impact, reliability and re-usability – rather than on questionable proxies
  •  increase awareness of the need to develop credible alternatives to the inappropriate uses of metrics in research assessment: showcase the implementation of good practices and how policy changes have improved research assessment in hiring, promotion, and funding decisions
  • research and promote tools and processes that facilitate best practice in research assessment

Reference: https://sfdora.org/

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Image available here

Just watched 2011 Adam Curtis 3-episode BBC series under this title of a poem by Richard Brautigan. I strongly recommend that you watch this documentary (link available here); Adam Curtis is a master at creating consistent narratives (remember ‘the century of the Self’). In the meantime, here is the poem the series owe its name to, dedicated to all my friends the cyberneticists.

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Competition Culture in Europe 2017-2020

Well, it was worth the wait and the effort! Competition Culture in Europe 2017-2020 is now openly available! Big thanks to Architectuur Lokaal and Indira van Klooster for making it happen and a big thanks to Katerina Moustaka and Stelina Portesi the two students of NTUA who worked so hard for the research!

Abstract: Research, activities & educational outputs from the 2017 International Competition Culture in Europe (CCIE) conference, & the wider CCIE programme, are assembled here to provide invaluable resources, knowledge, & guidance. 25 European countries were involved in the programme & in 6 research programmes were set up. The 1st part provides an overview of CCIE international convocations & their outputs. The 2nd part reports on University master students research from Tirana (Albania), Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Sofia (Bulgaria), Athens (Greece), Dublin (Ireland) & Portsmouth (United Kingdom). These country’s outputs cover the history, development, application, & opportunities of competitions in an international context. This publication is an Architectuur Lokaal project realised with Project Compass CIC & A10 New European architecture Cooperative.

‘The privacy paradox’ by D.J. Solove

The ‘paradox’ refers to the cases where people share personal information even when they attest to highly valuing their privacy. This article originally points to a series of studies where individuals chose to disclose personal information in order to gain either a small discount or for no reason at all. The author discusses two arguments: the ‘behavior valuation argument’ [when people’s behavior is used to measure how much people value privacy (revealed preferences) instead of attitudes (stated preferences)] and the exact opposite: the ‘behavior distortion argument’ (when behavior does not reliably reflect people’s preferences) only to deny both. In fact, Solove argues there is no paradox at all. “The privacy paradox,” he says, “emerges from conflated issues, unwarranted generalizations, and leaps in logic.” Full article available here

James Wines: “Future architecture should become invisible”

High-Rise of Homes, 1981. Image available here

Art and eco-design belong together, the idea of ​​the building itself becomes the object of art (…) people never want an aesthetically inferior building near them (…) most eco-friendly architecture is really quite ugly (…) the ecological challenges are extremely complex (…) One of the goals of architecture for the post-pandemic era must be to stop forcing people into a world where everything is decided for them (…) The greening of buildings should be a collective design process in which choice, chance and change work together (…) If architects and designers want to continue to play a role in the future, they have to adapt their aesthetic values ​​to these changed conditions: what we actually need now is invisible architecture

Full interview of James Wines, available here

Digital citizenship, digital rights and digital literacy

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The ‘digital’ as an influence in each field: “each time the ‘digital’ is used as a modifier or as a
qualifying term in any of the senses suggested above, it exerts a normative effect.” Digital poses as progress, develop, change; it implies the transformation of current practices at a fundamental level, but it also stands for machinist, automated and impersonal.

Digital Citizenship: the right to participate online or how the digital facilitates new forms of participation, “digital acts involve interpreting multiple streams of local and global information, and, in the age of datafication, anticipating unknown consequences.” However, marginalized groups still struggle to be included, digital citizens are less reliant to the nation state for democratic expression, while at the same time, new forms of discipline made possible because of ‘digital’ increase control over citizens. Digital Rights: intended here as protection against ‘standard threats’: there is an inherent tension between free exchange of ideas and protection of abuse or harassment. There is a discrepancy between the universalized human subject and the locally situated one. Digital rights for some actors can be thus overlooked, they have a strong reliance on institutions rather than states, however, they bring context. Digital Literacy: intended as knowledge assembly, however, literacy is ‘an established frame in response to changes in communications that normalizes and explains the relationships between individuals and society.” New strands of literacy have emerged due to datafication like ‘critical data literacy’. These in turn provide a foundation for the both digital citizenship and rights.

So what is their common ground? Promoting agency in the digital context by enhancing the individuals’ power to change the world. However, there are limits to bottom-up collective responses. Future research should test their limits and to also consider how they can resist the pervasive aspects of control.

Reference

Pangrazio, L. & Sefton-Green, J. (2021). Digital Rights, Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy: What’s the Difference?. In Journal of New Approaches in Education Research 10 (1), 15-27. Full paper available here. (First seen in Stephen Downes blog)