So went down to the awesome E Street Cinema with @sassysbgal and The Boy Who Is Not On Twitter to a showing of the classic cyber-film "Hackers" starring a young Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller (dude, that laptop is SCREAMING with a 28.8 BPS modem!!).
It was cool and nostalgic and I love it when Miller and Jolie were tossing out "PCI Bus" and "RISC" like they were deeply meaningful.
@FutureTenseNow was ther organizer and @zephoria was kinda like the special guest star - danah was also nice enough to take some questions afterward and one was from someone who asked if she thouht that the term "hacker" could ever be reclaimed and reconditioned to have some meaning, if not benign then at least a little more nuanced than what we have now. I didn't get a chance to answer that question but here is what I was thinking.....
No. Not happening. Not anytime soon and here is why...the denigration of the term hacker has to be placed along a spectrum that I'd argue, started with Pearl Harbor, was amplified by the atomic bomb, was cooked into our national psyche by Vietnam and which was granted horrific status by 9/11. All these points have been hammer blows to the collective American ideal that no matter how hard you hit us, we'll get back up. (Read: Tom Engelhardt's The End of Victory Culture)
Taken together, Pearl Harbor and the US's two atomic attacks, showed that America could be surprised and that if an opponent had atomic weapons...that surprise might not be something we could recover from. Vietnam showed we could be horribly wrong about how to prosecute a war and that we could actually "lose." 9/11 showed that our enemies didn't even need to have atomic weapons any more to do us serious damage.
These have been hammer blows to the American psyche and I think, have permanently done away with our capability to allow room to consider something like hacking to have any kind of innocent, rebellious youth quality. I don't think our considerations of national security have room for that anymore. Its sad. Its a loss. The consequences have just been shown to be too high to have room for much forgiveness. I think 'hacking' is now permanently equated to criminal or terrorist activity. The RIAA and MPAA also bear blame here for making real-life criminals out of 13-year-old girls who have downloaded some songs or a movie.
So I'll keep thinking well of Defcon and Black Hat and wearing my "Got DeCSS?" t-shirt (thx Jon Lech Johansen)...but I don't see a slew of future heroes emerging from the ranks of the l337 haxx0r. I'll hope though and remember, Hack The Planet! ;-)
A few days ago I tweeted a question about why Peter Senge never seemed to be mentioned in learning circles along with folks like Bloom, Gagne, and Kirkpatrick. : #crowdbooster told me that I was RT'd 7 times on that tweet and reached a potential audience of about 18,000 people. Exactly zero replies though. I mean I can attribute part of that to people saw the tweet and just didn't know what to say or that I am generally very easy to ignore. Either way, it was a point of interest for me.
I don't work squarely in the learning and training field anymore and am quite happy being in the social media for the enterprise space and working for an awesome company like Socialtext. I still think though about L&D from the standpoint of social being the glue that brings together vectors like HCM, L&D and more. I also have 10+ years of experience in L&D and can't quit looking at some things through that lens.
So I have to ask - why no Senge? I have been to conference after conference in the L&D world and I don't think I have ever come across a single session on Senge, the Fifth Discipline or his ideas of a "learning organization." I am confused by that. I have seen session after session on how to think about adult learning, cognitive overload, game-based learning - full disclaimer - I've done quite a few of those presentations myself.
Here is what I'm confused by - why haven't we been talking more about "learning organizations"? Have we and I've just been missing it? (entirely possible) Its just seems to be that approaching this discussion from a holistic standpoint make so much sense. It puts L&D in a strategic role across the organization - places L&D in a central role of generating a competitive advantage - this seems to be a much stronger organizational position that fighting for some loosely defined and poorly appreciated ROI.
While we're at it - where is Chris Argyris and Overcoming Organizational Defenses - the subtitle of which is Facilitating Organizational Learning - I mean am I just being a rube here? Did I miss some big discussion that went on before I got here in which we all agreed that these people wouldn't be brought up? Because honestly, I almost want to believe that happened as opposed to the other idea which is that we've just ignored this stuff.
So this is a little plea to go along with my tweet - wassup y'all?
I've seen some other arguments about why video games are not "art" but this column from Jonathan Jones is just stupid. There have been lots of comments on the Guardian's own site and on Kotaku and I'm sure, in countless other places and I might not add anything ground-breaking to the discussion but I just had to get a few ideas down here.
I'll get to Jones' contention that video games aren't art but let's not let his first assertion slip by unnoticed - that there is some combination of age and intellectual development past which, people should not praise video games nor should they be playing them. I don't really have a crtique of this argument past the fact that given that, one could quite reading Jones' article there since his bias is so clear we know which way this article is going to go. You know what? That's OK - it's his column and he is entitled to his opinion and he is certainly entitled to not play any games - it's just that I feel sad for him. I don't think everyone should play games all the time but I do agree with people like Jane McGonigal about the positive impact of games, and with other studies that detail both the positive cognitive and motor skill improvements that acrue from game-playing (not to mention the social benefits as well). So I'll hope that perhaps someone will get Jones' a couple games for the holidays and that maybe he'll take some time and play a little - it's a brighter world on the other side.
An interesting note is that Jones' disagrees with MoMA's decision to display video games as art. The interesting part is that his column in no way talks about the process that MoMA went through to arrive at that decision. Nor does he address in any way, how whatever collection of what I can only assume are suprememly qualified judges of art at MoMA have arrived at a decision that someone like Jones' can so clearly see is wrong.
Finally we come to the heart of Jones' argument - I think it goes that because games are a collective product, they can not reflect a personal vision - no one "owns the games" so there is no artist.
"A work of art is one person's reaction to life." -Jonathan Jones
This argument confuses me to such an extent that I have to shake my head a bit at first. I want to ask Jones what he considers art? Clearly paintings - he references those. Sculpture? Music? Film? Photography? (I won't EVEN bring up comic books - I can only imagine how Jones feels about those!) How many people can be involved in the production process before it becomes non-art?
Jones also argues that even the greatest chess player in the world wasn't an artist. Again, this argument much like his cognitive/age cutoff for playing games - just makes me sad. To be able to watch Bobby Fisher play chess without recognizing that as art, well it just makes me think that Jones' world is a dim place indeed.
Why only one person? Why can art not be a collective reaction to life? Why the solitary aspect? To be sure, there have been great artists who were so possessed by incredibly strong personal visions that they made some great art but I utterly reject the notion that art BY DEFINITION requires some hermetic-like solitary act of creation. I reject that because I reject the idea that there IS a solitary act of creation. Van Gogh's reaction to life was a deeply personal one to be sure but one intimately colored and affected by interactions with others. He did not cut an ear off because he was an island unto himself.
Every artist is part of a collective. A collective of experiences. I collective of the production process. Art is by my definition, a social product in that it is mediated through one's own experiences with others. To deny that is to deny that humans are social creatures. To call out video games as non-art because their collective nature is more transparent than some other art forms is just plain wrong.
Social Media is (pls add)......
Conversations, Networks, Less Transmission Loss, Community, Community of Purpose, People Not Resisting Change, Advocacy, Mobile, Expertise, Culture, Value, Collaboration, attacking Hierarchies, Subject-matter networks, Emotions (Fear, Control, Trust), Performance,
Look, social media likes you a lot. Really. I know you have feelings for social media too. The harsh truth though is that social media is not just going to see you exclusively and you shouldn't kid yourself into thinking you'd be able to handle SoMe on your own anyway, they're too much for you.
I mean think about it, you can't even handle your email. There's no way you can stand up to Twitter. So stop thinking its you against the world. Get some Zen. Go with the flow...feel the Force...be the ball....focus on building your network.
You don't have a 1:1 relationship with social media - what you should be building is a many to many relationship. Social media is a network and you need to respond to the output of that network with your own network. I've got a strong network that kinda looks like a patchwork quilt.
Part of it looks for #socbiz. Part of it watches #swchat and #lrnchat. (shhh part of it even looks for mentions of my name). Pat of it looks for UX and part looks for jokes that are, frankly, NSFW and so on. It's my responsibility to architect the right network. The cool thing? Me and my network are also part of other people's networks - at absolutely zero incremental cost to any of us.
This is what can move us past the Tragedy of the Commons. So stop thinking like a subject-matter expert and start thinking like a Subject-Matter Network.
I'm re-reading Starship Troopers. I just love this book. This book talked about an army of Iron Men years before Stan and Jack introduced us to Tony Stark. It covers everything from racism to gender equality to how society establishes the voting franchise for its citizens. Oh, and then there are the armored suits with shoulder-launched atomic weapons, drop capsules and bug hunts. Those are all analogies too but they're also wicked cool. Anyway, this got me thinking that re-reading something like Starship Troopers (having never watched more than 10 minutes of that disgraceful movie) might be some sort of cultural marker of being a geek. That got me wondering, what other markers might I have lurking in my background that might indicate a certain geekiness. Let's see what I found.
I am a second generation member of the Science Fiction Book Club. I cut my teeth on Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov, Anderson, Sturgeon - HARD science fiction as it was called, FTL drives and event horizons (then those new guys Vinge, Gibson and Stephenson got into the act). None of this vampire love story crap. Hari Seldon is a hero. I know Asimov's pen name that he used to write the Lucky Starr series.
I started out usually as an Elf (got a thing for bows), Lawful Neutral. When PC games hit, the ones I bought came in ziplock bags with mimeographed instructions and 5.25 disks. My first programming experience was BASIC on an Apple IIe. Wrote a whole branching text game using that. That was after my dad had showed me how to use his FORTRAN flow chart template.
I've built crystal radio sets on Christmas morning, put together desktop computers from the chassis out, while debating which power source was better than another. I remember when modem speeds jumped from 14.4 and dreamed heady dreams of 28.8 days to come. Remember when the first 1GB hard drive came out and we all thought - what the hell would you ever need that kind of storage for?
I date most things in my childhood development as either happening before or after 1977 because that's when Star Wars came out. I subscribed to Star Wars monthly and use the posters as wallpaper. I watched every episode of Space 1999 and to me, Battlestar Galactica stars Lorne Green. I know what all the buttons on the steering wheel of the Mach 5 do and my favorite was always the robot bird. I knew what every round in Logan's gun did (there were 6 different ones). I dreamed of becoming a Ninja Hacker Overlord or maybe the Kwisatz Haderach or maybe just a Stranger in a Strange Land. I devoured every issue of OMNI magazine and wish I still had them - it'd be cool if WIRED featured sci-fi writing like OMNI did.
There is a first edition of Seduction of the Innocent sitting on my bookshelf and I can say things like Excelsior! and Wonder Twin Powers Activate! with complete confidence. There is a table in my office that is actually just boxes of comic books with a table cloth on top of them. I used to mark major changes in the economy by increases in the cover price of my comics. When I went on a tour of the FBI building (when they still used to do that), I'm pretty sure I was the only one in the group that recognized Jack Kirby's artwork on the wall. I have a Flaming Carrot action figure, love the Tick, Arthur and the Man-Eating Cow. I think Demon in a Bottle is possibly one of the best story arcs ever and yes, I still have my pull list at local comic book store.
Wizardry was a constant companion from Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord to the Crusaders of the Dark Savant. I remember being in a open field to the west of a white house. I finally found the Coconut of Quendor while upstairs in my fraternity house's computer room while there was party going on downstairs. I'll never forget that when I typed "get Coconut" - my inventory was too full.
I've had pets named Jason (of the Argonauts not Friday the 13th), Romulus, Remus and Loki. I have a dog named Gambit and used to have a dog named Remy LeBeau. Saw Videodrome, in the theater. Could watch Scanners right now. I love Peter Jackson because he made the movies we all saw in our heads when we read Lord of the Rings. I got my hands on a bootleg VHS copy of Highlander from Japan because it had like an extra 3 minutes on it (the part about where he got his secretary).
Winsock, Telnet and Pine - that's how you got to email. Mosaic? That was one sexy beast. I remeber when most of the places I went online started with alt.binaries. I've owned a C-64 and a TRS-80. Atari console? Sure. Activision? No doubt. Dreamcast? Yeppers (worst controller ever). PS1, 2 and 3? Done, done and done.
There for a while, I never used to have to spend quarters in the arcade because I had the high monthly scores on Tempest and Red Baron. I also rocked Robotron 2084 and Galaga, was pretty good at Joust but some kid was better. I was also in the KISS Army and yes, had all their solo albums.
My first credit as a published author is a chapter in The Cyborg Handbook entitled "From Captain America to Wolverine: Images of Cyborgs in Comic Books." I had another piece published in grad school that talked about the cultural meaning inscribed on PEZ and have about 300 of those sitting around (the ones without the feet are the older ones).
While I was in the Pentagon, I delivered briefings with images of Johnny Mnemonic and DOOM. I have this tendency to decorate my office with blown up maps from XKCD, like the one of IPv4 and one of my favorite things that sits on my desk is a little solid metal statue of Gort. Whenever I shop, I shop smart at S Mart and I will leave Jack Burton out of this. I have a son who is using Netflix to work his way through all the Dr Who that's available and earlier this year I got him the complete set of Ultraman episodes.
Now things change to be sure. They always do. But as I sit here typing this post in a hoodie from 2012's DragonCon, I reckon that I can still hang with some geeks...On the Bounce and By The Numbers!
OK kids...The Wounded Warrior Project...understand that we are living in a time during which the U.S. is home to the greatest number of combat veterans in our country's history. The WWP is doing some amazing work helping those veterans adjust both mentally and physically and they've got some amazing results.
Now as it turns out, I'm running in this little race called the Tough Mudder that so far has donated about $3.5 million to the WWP. I'm trying to help them kick in a little more.
If you go here you can easily (and anonymously if you want) donate to the WWP. I'd appreciate it and we all know these folks who have given so much, deserve it.
If you can't give, that's cool too, please feel free to share this and pass it along. Thanks and now back to our regular programming.
World-changing content? Maybe.
Stunning new technology? Um, no.
Then what is it?
They are cracks in the dam. They are canaries in the mine. Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody, wrote in part, "...We are plainly witnessing a restructuring of the music and newspaper businesses, but their suffering isn’t unique, it’s prophetic." Spot on Clay. Higher education, take note, its your turn. Oh, to all the folks in corporate learning and training who just breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn't their turn...you need to keep reading.
Ever hear of Common Craft? Lynda.com or Stormwind? How about Bloomfire? Code Academy? Quora? Snapguide? Instructables? Open Sesame? No? Look 'em up. Why? Well, I talk a lot about how we can look to the consumer market for features that will be included in our enterprise systems in the future....well look to the consumer market for new business models and production models too.
Do you remember Fletch? Of course you do. Everyone loves that movie. Remember the scene in the doctor's office? No, not that part, the part where the dialog goes like this:
Dr. Joseph Dolan: You know, it's a shame about Ed.
Fletch: Oh, it was. Yeah, it was really a shame. To go so suddenly like that.
Dr. Joseph Dolan: Ahh, he was dying for years.
Fletch: Sure, but... the end was really... very sudden.
Dr. Joseph Dolan: He was in intensive care for eight weeks!
Fletch: Yeah, but I mean the very end, when he actually died. That was extremely sudden.
That's what where we are headed. Everyone keeps cranking out instructional content based on seat time and levels of interactivity EXCEPT anyone not already in the industry. Those folks are the ones finding alternative models. Why? I believe its because the logic that once held that system together is breaking down.
Waaaaay back in 2005, Bill Gates gave a speech to the National Governor's Association. Part of what he said was:
America’s high schools are obsolete.
By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded – though a case could be made for every one of those points.
By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they’re working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.
Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It’s the wrong tool for the times.
Our high schools were designed fifty years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting – even ruining – the lives of millions of Americans every year.
I believe he was spot on. Summers off? Built for an agricultural society. Desks in rows and columns? A factory model of control and surveilance not education. You can't fix it though because it's not broken. Its an outdated design.
Wonder why all the companies I mentioned above are popping up? Why institutions like Harvard, MIT, Stanford and so on are even experimenting? They feel the problems in the model. Do we? We keep pushing ADDIE like its some kind of magic charm. What happens though when we deploy a social media system first - that would make the "I" first...and we do that before any analysis because you can't analyze something that you have no data for...and then we tweak the design...whoa...now we're all out of order. I don't know if ADDIE is right or wrong but I know its too rigid. We don't operate in linear fashion we operate in a realm of simultaneity. Now what's your design concept look like? 30, 60 90, days to develop an hour of instruction? Really?
I'm sure the folks at the Rocky Mountain News, which started in 1859, thought they would continue on forever too. I'm not here with all the answers, just trying to remind people that we need to be asking these questions now.
Today is my first day at Socialtext. If you want, I'll tell you all about them but if you've known me for a while, you've probably already heard me talk about them. If you want the 'human speak' version, they we make an outstanding platform that allows you to find the people you need to work with and then get your work done faster and better so you can get out when you need to and get home in front of traffic. I could throw in a lot of words like collaboration, enterprise, customer-facing, intranet, and so on but really - they we help you work better.
My job is going to be working with the customers of Socialtext to help make sure that their visions are realized and that they get the benefits they are looking for. I may even help point out some ways that our platform can help them that they may not have even thought of yet. I'm sneaky like that.
I'll still blog occassionally, tweet prolifically, post photos to flickr and keep trying to figure out the best way to use G+. I still have an about.me page and am still loving my Scoop.it site called It's All Social. Honestly, I also feel like I'm doing what I should be doing, helping people and organizations figure out the best way to use an outstanding piece of software to perform better.As always, thanks for reading!