Connected Learning: Keynote by Mimi Ito

Mimi Ito opened the one-day conference HighTech Human Touch today at Aarhus University  with a keynote on “Fostering Creativity in a Connected Age”. In the early 2000’s, Ito had investigated mobile phone use and youth culture in Japan long before the smart phone became a staple gadget in everyday life in the West. Questions of media literacy and youth cultures, ways of learning with and in media have informed her research and activities ever since. In his introduction, Martin Brynskow asked where insights about future developments were best to be perceivable, whether in the US, Europe or Asia, and whether there are common lessons we can share to build sustainable societies.

Ito opened her talk with the question in what ways expert cultures and citizens (learners, youth, employees …) can interact beyond the established models of formal education.  Her talk addressed the challenges of learning in an era of abundant connectivity and how to leverage the potential of endless information resources and expert cultures for those who are not socially or culturally connected to them. How can learners from diverse background make the most of this environment? All institutions that channel access to information and knowledge, e.g., schools, universities but also administrations, are largely based on different technological conditions of regulated access (and artificial scarcity). But are they ready for this new interconnected age?

Among young people, usage time of media (in whatever form) is on the rise in the US, peeking at around 9 hours a day used for television, gaming (across gender lines), and maintaining social relationships online and offline. While in the early 2000’s, meeting people online (only) was still regarded as a little weird, now, it more common to meet online (first) and (sometimes) take connections to the “real life”. (Pew Research (2015). “Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015“)

What happens when younger, always connected students confront traditional formats of knowledge creation and learning? Engagement in community services and school activities steadily declines from elementary school to high school. In the US, 45% of college students show very little learning in the first two years (See  Arum, Richard; Roksa, Josipa (2011). Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. University of Chicago Press). In addition, expenditure for out-of-school activities is on the rise for high income families but stalls for low-income families. But informal learning in social experiences, creative work, etc. is becoming more and more important for a successful professional life (See Duncan, Greg J.; Murnane, Richard J. (2011). Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

IN THEORY, the abundance of digital resources for learning should encourage a lot of forms of informal learning. THE PROBLEM, of course, is that an abundance of choices overpowers and that highly educated and well-sourced learners are the most likely to take free open online courses. “The rich get richer” and the better educated you are the better you can educate yourself, ITO suggested (See Hansen, John D.; Reich, Justin (2015). “Democratizing Education? Examining Access and Usage Patterns in Massive Open Online Courses.” Science 350(6265): 1245-1248.)

Trying to overcome this digital divide, connected learning as it is championed and developed by ITO and her colleagues at the CL Alliance needs to be embedded in personal interests, (real) opportunities and peer culture. Learning is best achieved when it creates a form of connected learning where all these three elements are strengthened. SO FAR, individual interests and activities remain isolated and detached from schools curricula and formal learning tracks. People who navigate the classic track in institutions successfully, usually also have a very strong network outside of these institutions that supports the path.

Learning for everyone, to be inclusive and to level social inequalities, must connect learning experiences through mentorship and “guide people to opportunities.” Formal schemes for mentorship are more widespread in companies and as a form of career training. MOST MENTORING in school age happens INFORMALLY (through families, networks of friends). Mentoring does not solve all problems of learning and developing a sense of self. But the HUMAN CONNECTION to a mentor makes LEARNING more successful. Learning and creating something together gives it a purpose beyond the formal attainment of grades or degrees. Sharing work and getting recognition for achievements is the single most important factor for successful learning.

Connected Learning Research Network // http://clalliance.com // https://clrn.dmlhub.net/ Affinity Project https://clrn.dmlhub.net/projects/the-affinity-project

Mimi ITO / 伊藤瑞子 // http://www.itofisher.com/mito/

 

Affective Interfaces

I am publishing my notes taken during the workshop Affective Interfaces @ITU Copenhagen, 30 Nov. 2017. Cheers and Thank you to the organizers JONAS Fritsch, SØREN Rasmussen, TORSTEN Andreasen. These are notes looking for an interface with only minor edits for publication // my own views // accents and selections

OPENING

JONAS welcomes roundabout 50 participants to the symposium. Shall address “real-time level Interface events” // “affective modulation” of communication online // Workshop is part of project “Affects, Interfaces, Events” // focus on Affective ENCOUNTERS, TONALITIES, ATTUNEMENTS, CROWDINGS, MODULATIONS

THE INTERFACE was the TOUCHPOINT BETWEEN THE HUMAN AND THE MACHINE (which used to be restricted to a screen). This now changes. EXAMPLES: smartband for EPILEPSY DETECTION by empatica – sense an attack before it happens // MACHINE PERCEPTION: face becomes the interface e.g. in APPLE face recognition // SELF-DRIVING CARS: Where is the interface of that device with the environment?

HOW to analyse “interfaciality”…?

TORSTEN gives a summary of affective dimensions and alienation. Question the interface. “Regime of the interface” ALLOWS to do certain things. “as long as you participate” nothing happens (cf. Alexander Galloway’s Interface Effect). Spectacle of the Interface // affective networks (Jodi Dean) participate instead of acting? // Current capitalism is the endless accumulation and proliferation of affective interfaces. (trace that genealogy back to  Marx, Debord, Agamben [and Torsten]). // Interface as zone of indistinction between human and non-human, action and non-action.

PRESENTATIONS

Cross-Examination: The Izbica Massacre Video
Susan Schuppli Goldsmiths University London)

From Project “Material Witness“: compare the testimony of witnesses to massacres in its affective dimensions in relation to the “glacial” mechanic pace of prosecution process at the ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia].  Address “performance of justice in the architecture of the court as a flawed design problem.” Tapes of the Izbica massacre (made by Liri Loshi) were smuggled in different versions out of Kosovo, occasionally being hidden away, regained, transported and hidden again.

From abstract: “As the tape journeyed through the ICTY it furnished a great deal of insight into its complex legal role as an interface between victims and perpetrators; a relationship organised by the institutional protocols of the court and the affective register of testimony, which included human as well as material witnesses.”

The court proceedings are mediatised in many ways as no material evidence enters the court room without prior digitization. Every evidence is video or/and image, along with recorded testimony and its simultaneous translation in 5 languages. Case for “forensic architecture”. Witnessing decoded. Lack of image stability and graininess attests to its authenticity. At the same time, in a court prosecution, this defect may be a source of doubt. As the video is cited in trial, shown again, stopped, excerpted etc. its force of evidence is continuously questioned and translated into proceedings that reinstate the affective dimensions of the circumstances of its original production. The “material witness” (ie. the tape) with its material-digital defects stands in for the human witness, who can no longer speak. Interested as how violence is recorded across the material strata of the world.

Why is the material defect important?

  • the video is edited for the purposes of the court which is changing its status as an evidential object. The judicial process becomes inscribed in the object
  • its material degradation gives rise to doubt about its evidentiary status (low-tech camcorder aesthetic). How the logic of institutional protocols is inscribed in objects that are supposed to speak for someone else

Reading-Writing the Metainterface Body
Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold (Aarhus University)

New book: The Metainterface: The Art of Platforms, Cities, and Clouds // Metainterface is “both omnipresent and invisible, universal and intimate, at once embedded in everyday objects and characterized by hidden exchanges of information between objects” (from abstract) // Søren: “We never escape our profile”. Interactivity across platforms creates recommendation systems // TASTE as data-business model // See Linden & Smith 2017 “Two Decades of Recommender Systems at Amazon.com

Or artwork by Benjamin Grosser // “You like my like of your like of my status (2016) — example of datafication of taste and its exposition in randomised, repetitive fashion // “Go Rando” (2017), randomising emotion icons on Facebook profiles — disturbs FB algorithmic observation but also the interaction/communication/self perception of users. Distance between human and algorithmic understanding of “liking” becomes obvious as affective is defined in a specific “quantifiable grammar” that is exposed in Grosser’s endless, mechanistic repetition of a phrase. We have no way to escape the capitalist behavioral schema of metainterface without doing away with the template of interaction. Social networking sites as “parasites to our language”.

Zombification and iPhone bodies: Zombie appendage e.g. Jodi ZYX smart phones embody a particular grammar of physical movement. Apps inscribe these grammars on bodies. The art collective also exposes how an app is tested and becomes accepted for distribution. // “Body Scan” by Erica Scourti (2014)  — connect body images, poetry and meta-search instant results. Body that is sign and signal // intimate and objectified // exposes a machine language sensorium in human language // gender biases and commercial interests are reflected back on to the body. Metainferface as an ideological machine? // Measurement of taste feeds back into the creation of taste and further consumption. cf. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (2016). Updating to Remain the Same. Habitual New Media. MIT Press.

 

AFTERNOON

Activist Sense – Interfacing Affective Relays
Christoph Brunner  (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

Activism at G20 Summit in Hamburg July 2017 as state of exception? A “Modulatory State of Excitement” // protest forms informed by Seattle protests, Prague // Counteraesthetic of the sensible // Aesthetics of Activist Movements: Visualization and Visuals. Flashmob interventions. Technopolitics of Protest

Alternative Media Center (FC/MC) during summit in Hamburg. Activists negotiate media use and communication in situated embedding // Follow  Brian Massumi, (2015). Politics of Affect. “Resistance as bare activity” // operational logic, ie. politics of pre-emption // owning of time (not space) as military strategy // in run-up to summit a discourse of violent threat and pre-emptive actions by authorities escalated toward the event // Violence then actually erupted.

FC/MC creates an alternative information channel, but it also activates the sensing “bodies in alliance” (Judith Butler), while distributing differential signs across the media spectrum. The sensuous interfaces become sense-making elements to feed them back into communication channels // Joint and distributed task of “making of [a] perception” and create the differentials that resonate in space // generate a space of gathering and making (“counter-power” à la Massumi is an emerging quality of experience) // activist body to resonate in a collective body through affect: “Affect is the body as much as it composes the [collective] body.”

Designing into the Unknown: engaging with material and aesthetic uncertainty
Danielle Wilde
  (University of Southern Denmark)

Reporting on PKI Project – poetic kinaesthetic interface. Started with motion captures of different of bodies in unusual positions — that failed because the bodies were moving / / not moving in predefined patterns.

Building on Tim Ingold: how materials get woven into the fabric of people’s lives e.g. (2011). Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. // Ingrid Pollard: qualities of materials emergent in practice cannot always be adequately captured in writing/theory

Use language of weaving in a participatory design process // craft as method, technique and tool to scaffold and open responsive research structure // LOOM stands for the space where experiments with fabrics, shapes, uses and users take place // FABRIC emerging from experiment, patterns // QUALITIES emergent as threshold between material and use, perception and questioning // publics as the HEFT of the LOOM that operates its functions and shapes them. Install a VAN as an open air design research lab in the wild // developing body props to interrupt typical body movement and perception patterns e.g. “Blue Cushions” or “Sleeves”: finding out the limitations of the prop and negotiate around them // blur boundaries of testing and making, break barrier between research and interaction // low threshold of participation // make parts of probes and experiments open to observation, participation by people // perform research

Group as interface – Elements for a Mechanology of Participation
Yuk Hui (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

Following up on (2016). On the Existence of Digital Objects. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Group vs. collective Mechanology is a combination of philosophical thinking and technical knowledge to solve/address social issue // to address social networks like Facebook critically, a new theory of participation is necessary // build on Jacob Moreno against individual as “social atom” – method of “sociometry” // he tried to understand child delinquency through maps of social relations and existence of groups // pattern of the social is invisible, only available through charting (visualisation) of relations // in age of Facebook this charting is a method of driving value generation // a method of social science and management in the 1930’s became a managerial tool in online social networks // now, this is problematic and a critique of FB must start with a reimagination of the social network (and its commodified form) beyond the atomised individual.

Individuation takes place psychologically and socially // follow George Simondon: Society is an ensemble of relations, not a substance. The psychic is always trans-individual (individuation) // Gilles Hanus: L’épreuve du collectif (2016): “collective is an intermediate between the individual and the group”  // distinguish between isolation and solitude, the latter of which is a deliberate looking outward of the individual to be affectuated by others. // Kurt Lewin: theory of group, where it is not a result or product of socialization (ie. unit of society) but a set of relations that effect the individual (as force). “every individual is always in-group and out-group” Group as an interface: moderates the individual and structures the collective // compare moderation in group to mediation and cybernetics // Being in a group is a form of modulation.// see G. Simondon “The Genesis of the Individual” in Crary / Kwinter (1992) Incorporations. Zone Books.

Facebook conceives of groups from logic of atomised individuals that adapt to the logic of networks ie. individuals IN A GROUP // group should be an intermediary in a theory of social networks // groups should become a condition of participation that allows different kinds of behavior // Limit the space of possibilities and decrease contingency of discovery // Wire that into the technical setup of online social networks // See more: Shang, Shang; Hui, Yuk; Hui, Pan; Cuff, Paul; Kulkarni, Sanjeev (2014). Beyond personalization and anonymity.