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Weekend Reading: Freedom From Edition

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Here’s hoping that, this Presidents’ Day weekend, folks are able to get a holiday from the current administration, in order to get a little freer headspace, or maybe even just some work done or some sleep.

  • Via Bonni Stachowiak, Elizabeth Dickens has a helpful overview of ways to talk about difficult/sensitive topics in class: Communicating the approach, as well as its goals and rationale, to students is also crucial. An instructor may assume everyone agrees that a controversial discussion should be approached as a dispassionate dialogue, but students who have a deeply personal stake in the topic and feel their identities, experiences, and emotions should be taken into account might be expecting a different approach. Such a mismatch in expectations has the potential to cause frustration and hurt on all sides.
  • Design thinking has been popular in technology circles in a while, so I very much liked this essay by Meg Miller (via Lee) on building inclusivity more explicitly into the process: Importantly, they look and sound nothing like a design event. You will not hear Antionette Carroll preaching about “design thinking” or solutionism. Rather, the Creative Reaction Lab starts from the premise that design’s greatest value is in exposing the invisible mechanisms of inequality, many of which were by design themselves.
  • First they came for our cigarettes: June Thunderstorm explains how smoking bans extinguish solidarity: Nothing could be further from the truth. The attack on cigarette smoking does not improve the lives of those it claims to protect, be they the “self-destructive” workers who smoke or the moralizing professionals who complain about having to smell them. Anti-smoking legislation is, and always has been, about social control. It is about ratcheting up worker productivity and fostering class hatred, to keep us looking for the enemy in each other instead of in those who are making a killing off cigarettes and anti-smoking campaigns alike. It legitimates the privatization of public space, limits popular assembly, and forces the working class out of political life into private isolation via the social technology of shame.
  • Matthew Milliner reflects on academic misery: The modern university no longer seeks to “sustain the longings for unity and purpose that its idealist and romantic forbearers endowed it with.” Universities are now just excellence machines. A former president of the University of California confesses it to be a “mechanism held together by administrative rules and powered by money.” Universities are now, as Christopher Olaf Blum once quipped, “a chance collection of individuals building their careers."
  • This is a terrific interview with Jarrett Drake: Traditional metadata serves the need of users who come to the archive as individuals (such as researchers), mining multiple sources to product a monograph, for example. Maybe community usage requires different principles — less emphasis on citation and disambiguation and more emphasis of integration into people’s every day lives. We should think about options for less emphasis on research needs and more on community-driven and public-facing needs.

For this week’s video, here’s Craig Finn’s forthcoming song, “Be Honest”. “And my password is ‘Be Honest,’ and my network is evolved”:

Have a great weekend!

Photo “046-365 Build Bridges Where You Can” by Flickr user Cohen Van der Velde / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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