Thinking loudly about networked beings. Commonist. Projektionsfläche. License: CC-BY
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Energiebilanz: CO2-Emissionen durch SUV steigen stärker als durch Luftfahrt und Schwerindustrie

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Ein SUV verbraucht mehr Sprit als ein vergleichbarer Pkw - wie viel mehr, zeigen nun Zahlen der Internationalen Energieagentur. So haben die Geländewagen einen enormen Anteil am weltweiten CO2-Anstieg.
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tante
2 days ago
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[SUVs leisten] "den zweitgrößten Beitrag zum Anstieg der weltweiten CO2-Emissionen seit 2010, nur der Ausstoß des Energiesektors stieg in diesem Zeitraum noch stärker an."
Berlin/Germany
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The Talk

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The post The Talk appeared first on The Perry Bible Fellowship.

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tante
8 days ago
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The Talk
Berlin/Germany
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Both Sides Are Equally Bad!

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Please help me make more cartoons by supporting my Patreon! I make a living primarily from lots of people pledging $1, and that’s kind of awesome.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels; two rows containing five panels between them, and then a final row with just a single large panel.

Panel 1

Three people stand on a city sidewalk talking.  There is “Mr. Right,” a bald white man wearing a dress shirt and a tie; a woman wearing glasses, a white collared shirt and a floral skirt; and “Ms. Left,” a black-haired woman wearing a hoodie and jeans.

Glasses has turned to her left, to address Ms Left.

GLASSES: Whats’ the worst thing you do, Ms Left?

MS LEFT: Well,.. Some of our extremists punch people, and not everyone punched is a Nazi.

Panel 2

Glasses has now turned to her right, to ask Mr Right a question.

GLASSES: And Mr Right, what’s the worst thing you do?

MR RIGHT: Oh, you know… Forced child separation, inhumane detention camps, and mass shootings inspired by the violent rhetoric of our highest elected leaders.

Panel 3

A close-up of Glasses, who is holding up a hand with a “stop!” gesture and looking upward as if thinking.

GLASSES: But if you both do violence… Then that means…

Panel 4

An even tighter close-up of Glasses. Her hands are up on her face, and her eyes are wide, as if she’s having a startling realization.

GLASSES: That both of you are…

Panel 5

A very tight close-up of Glasses’ face – her entire head doesn’t even fit in the panel.  She’s grinning too wide and sweating and looks very intense. Her dialog in this panel, rather than being contained in a dialog balloon, is done in huge, happy letters superimposed over the image.

GLASSES: EQUALLY BAD!

Panel 6

A large panel, showing Mr. Right and Glasses grinning and dancing joyously while they sing. Musical notes fill the air around them. On the far right of the panel, Ms Left is facepalming.

MR RIGHT (sings): Equally bad! Equally bad!

GLASSES (sings): Equally bad!

MS LEFT (thought): Why do I even talk to centrists?

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tante
19 days ago
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Bothsidesism
Berlin/Germany
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Like a Boss

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Shove over Mr. Monopoly, there’s a NEW landlady in town.
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tante
35 days ago
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Ms. Monopoly
Berlin/Germany
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CDU und AfD nähern sich in Kommunalparlamenten an

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CDU-Logo am Konrad-Adenauer-Haus | Bildquelle: MESSING/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Nach Recherchen von Report Mainz gibt es in 18 Kommunen Hinweise auf eine Zusammenarbeit zwischen CDU und AfD. In einem Gemeinderat in Sachsen-Anhalt bildete die CDU demnach sogar eine Fraktion mit einem Rechtsextremisten. [mehr]

Meldung bei www.tagesschau.de lesen

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tante
39 days ago
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Die CDU arbeitet auf Kommunalebene schon an vielen Stellen mit der AfD. Man scheint dort keine Berührungsängste zu haben ...
Berlin/Germany
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The Perfect User

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On June 9, former Google designer turned tech critic Tristan Harris tweeted: “We need a new field of ‘Society & Technology Interaction’ (or STX).” This “new field,” he wrote, would research ways to realign technology so that it worked in the best interests of humanity. But as some academics and social scientists were swift to point out, it is not as if such critical approaches don’t already exist. They responded to Harris’s tweet by noting his apparent ignorance of entire swathes of academic research, including science and technology studies (STS), internet and platform studies, and other various subfields within the social sciences and humanities that have been critiquing design and technological practices for decades. Some replies accused Harris of “Columbizing,” claiming to discover a territory that already exists.

More than merely an amusing Twitter roasting, however, this episode marks a key moment in the emerging discourse of “tech humanism,” which, as Ben Tarnoff and Moira Weigel explain in this essay for the Guardian, is the belief that technology “damages our psychological well-being and conditions us to behave in ways that diminish our humanity.” In other words, technology in their view now compromises the quintessentially human capacity for individual decision making.

The “human” is not a self-evident category

Harris’s tweet was part of a wider discussion among advocates for “humane technology” such as Aza Raskin and Aviv Oyadya, who argue that user-experience (UX) design — the practice of tailoring a product to users’ anticipated behavioral responses, with the aim of making it easy or compelling to use — has led to a general “downgrade” of humanity, evidenced by digital addiction, increased superficiality, and an overall decline of mental health and political and media discourse. A critical approach to UX, they say, would help shed light on its negative effects. Harris’s Center of Humane Technology seems to have been launched with that aim in mind. But as Maya Ganesh, Lilly Irani and Rumman Chowdhury, and others have noted, the idea of humane technology is at best a technical critique of UX design practices and culture that repositions Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, designers, and programmers as the ideal reformers of humanity.

The tech-humanist movement raises important questions about how UX design configures human beings as “users” according to the culture and ideology of the tech sector. This echoes the work of STS scholars like Benjamin Bratton, Tung-Hui Hu, Orit Halpern, and Wendy Chun, who have made similar points. But tech humanism appears to take for granted the fundamental unit that motivates its critique: the “human” subject. For Harris and company, the human subject appears to be a transparent, knowable, monadic unit of being, more or less consistent with the humanist subject of the Enlightenment. They treat what a “human” is and does as self-evident, overlooking the ways that the category of the human has been used to dehumanize certain people and groups who fall outside their limited definition (i.e. women, people of color, non-able bodies, etc.). The “human” is not a self-evident category at all but rather a political and ideological tool that has long been used to maintain existing hierarchies, excluding some people to the benefit of others.

The arch response Harris received to his STX tweet might be read as part of ongoing debates, in STS and elsewhere, regarding who gets to define the “human,” as well as who gets to be considered most fully human in our current techno-social predicament. Our concern is that tech humanism not only underestimates what it takes to comprehend the category of “the human” but that its attempts to reform “humanity” may reinstate humanism’s old hierarchies of power and control.


Traditional humanism defined the “human” as a rational, sovereign agent. In Rosi Braidotti’s estimation, this means “the classical ideal of ‘Man,’ formulated first by Protagoras as ‘the measure of all things,’ later renewed in the Italian Renaissance as a universal model and represented in Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.” Cary Wolfe has explained this idea of the “human” as “the Cartesian subject of the cogito, the Kantian ‘community of reasonable beings,’ or, in more sociological terms, the subject as citizen, rights-holder, property-owner, and so on.” This Enlightenment notion of the human continues to enjoy widespread consensus, carrying with it a reassuring familiarity and appearing as common sense. An attachment to this notion of the human is often asserted as if it were a matter of fact, a given — so much so that, as Braidotti points out, we construct a fundamental notion of rights around it.

It is no coincidence that websites promoting disconnection tools and events often feature striking images of untouched mountains

Though this definition of “human” is often taken and natural and self-evident, it has also been subject to critique. The anti-humanist movements of postwar Europe (associated with figures such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Jacques Lacan) and the more recent posthuman movement (associated with Rosi Braidotti, Cary Wolfe, Francesca Ferrando, among others) have systematically critiqued this humanist figure for its partiality. As Braidotti summarizes:

Universal “Man,” in fact, is implicitly assumed to be masculine, white, urbanized, speaking a standard language, heterosexually inscribed in a reproductive unit and a full citizen of a recognized polity. How nonrepresentative can you get?

The concept is also critiqued for putting forward the notion of man as the hegemonic and rightfully dominant species.

Tech humanism, in foregrounding the need to preserve “the human,” is in danger of reviving the old humanist approach, only its definition of Universal Man is framed around the ideal user implicit in the protocols of UX design. Humanism’s “unshakable certainty [in] the almost boundless capacity of humans to pursue their individual and collective perfectibility” (as Rosi Braidotti puts it in The Posthuman) is finding new form in the Perfect User: a thoroughly designed, homogenous subject position that one may momentarily step into by engaging in digital healthism and digital well-being practices. Its proximate roots are in Californian wellness culture (described here by Daniela Blei), which attempts to align intentional technology use with self-mastery. Today’s aspirational subject can engage in activities such as intentional eating, intentional house design, and intentional human speaking. And, of course, intentional phone use.

Drawing from wellness culture, tech humanism adopts as one of its central tenets the perfectibility of the subject, pursuable through such activities as mindfulness, digital minimalism, productivity, self-discipline, and intentionality. Inherent in the movement is the elitist assumption that everyone has the time and means to be unconnected. For the Perfect User, retreating from the digital world means attending custom-designed events and festivals, like the Go Brick Phone-Free Getaway and, of course, Burning Man, where being screen-free will have only positive consequences. It is no coincidence that websites promoting disconnection tools and events often feature striking images of untouched mountains, because the Perfect User has the ability to travel in pursuit of self-improvement.

There is also a fundamental assumption that users have, or should have, a dominant, guiding and aspirational intention in ideological alignment with the Center for Humane Technology’s Humane Design Guide. Central to the center’s ideology is the humanist belief that individuals should act in concert with their own intentions. Accordingly, UX design practices can and should enhance the human condition by aligning design to human intention. As part of this determinist, the CHT website (under a header of Take Control) offers tips on, for example, how to temper one’s phone habit, with links to recommended mindfulness or time-management apps like Calm and Moment. These tips reinforce an approach to technology founded in what Adam Fish calls “digital healthism,” which positions the individual as responsible for their digital consumption.

But for tech humanism, the same potent persuasive technology design that is pitched here as the solution was also the source of the problem, fomenting unintentional or unconscious phone use through its irresistible snares. The movement’s ostensible mission is to maintain and protect individual sovereignty and restore intentionality, yet it relies on the same sort of assumption about the conditioning powers of UX design to achieve it.

Tech humanism insists that one be a user to be recognized as human. The fantasy-structure of intentionality encourages an aspirational form of digital consumption

Exactly how does UX design configure the Perfect User? And whose interests does this user serve? Among the apps meant to rescue users from distraction is Siempo, which tries to restore intentionality by redrawing the phone interface and reorganizing the app inventory to make “distracting” features less accessible. During its onboarding process, the app asks, “What’s your intention?” which it then reminds users of every time they unlock their phone or swipe to additional screens. Constantly reminding the user of their intention nudges the user to self-manage their digital consumption and aspire to a healthier, more productive, or otherwise self-optimal modes of living. With Siempo installed, the phone becomes akin to Foucault’s “body-tool,” demanding of the user continuous, intentional behavior. The phone as body-tool prompts the user to engage in self-surveillance and self-discipline, subjugating themselves to the modes of use that have been designed into the app.

Another tool, the Intent Launcher of the Add Intent suite, further reveals the kinds of activities the Perfect User is encouraged to strive for. Although the app’s purpose is presented relatively neutrally as “developing tools that put you back in control,” the overall design promotes a specific lifestyle ideology. Its design is text-only, to counteract “flashy icons trying to get your attention.” It suggests that users organize their phone apps into “Essentials” (it lists Amazon Kindle, Camera, Inbox, Messages, Phone, Slack, and Spotify) and “Distractions” (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube). These lists seem to discourage apps where the user engages more directly with others and with the outside world, and encourage as potentially “enriching” activities like reading and listening to music.

Regardless of how worthy their causes may be, both these apps require the user to enter into a thoroughly designed user-position — the Perfect User — to even be recognized as a subject by the socio-technical apparatus. One cannot function as a user without conforming to the modes of use that have been designed into the system. Put differently, apps like Siempo and Add Intent are actively involved in producing the kind of subject with which they claim to interact. The user of these systems remains a docile subject to be brought under control and disciplined, but the fantasy-structure of intentionality masks the ideological functioning of the apps, not to mention the broader structures of wellness capitalism itself, by encouraging an aspirational form of digital consumption. Tech humanism more or less insists that one be a user to be recognized as human. This move keeps us tethered to classic humanist structures of categorization, whereby some users are considered better than others.

The Perfect User may appear to be a self-evidently superior form of subjectivity well-suited to the pressures of our techno-social age, but that should not blind us to the relational politics and ideological entanglements that lie behind it. Though it seems rooted in wellness and empowerment, it implicitly retains the hierarchies and exclusions of enlightenment humanism by assuming the nature of the “human” subject it requires.

Although the humane tech movement’s attempts to reconfigure a “better” user-subject may be well-intentioned, we also need to acknowledge the political and ideological assumptions underpinning it. This may help to avoid a situation in which a relatively small group of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, developers, and designers are reforming humanity according to a privileged set of values and ideals.

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tante
44 days ago
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"Tech humanism, in foregrounding the need to preserve “the human,” is in danger of reviving the old humanist approach, only its definition of Universal Man is framed around the ideal user implicit in the protocols of UX design."
Berlin/Germany
sarcozona
42 days ago
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1 public comment
jepler
44 days ago
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I appreciate everyone who is trying to bring nuance to this discussion. From my own experiences, I believe people who start talking about "humanizing technology" mean well on the whole, and often have at least some consciousness of the (say) implicit gender and culture biases of technology as an item to be corrected, even when they're white, male, and not queer-presenting.

I think it's probably unfair to saddle Harris with the entirety of the problematic Humanist viewpoint, because if Harris (like me, and unlike the article authors) refers to "humanism" (the tweet says "humane"), it's with warm feelings about an idea we have that is probably at least 50/50 unrelated to the term as it would be used by philosophers or sociologists. It's unproductive in the same way it is for me to chastise someone for calling the whole computer the "CPU". Instead, I should help them with their immediate problem and maybe work on their terminology education in a respectful way...
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
duerig
40 days ago
Originally, I thought that the issue with Twitter was the size of the communication. That 140 characters wasn't enough to convey nuance and therefore led to more misunderstanding and online mobs. But now I think it is a combination of a platform that encourages private speech in a public forum and a platform that makes it very easy for many people to communicate to a single person. The combination seems to be an ideal breeding ground for online mobs. People make quick off the cuff comments which means there is always a target. And the many-to-one communication means that it is trivial to publicly shame or roast or attack. But it is hard to take somebody aside and educate them in a respectful way as you suggest. And that is assuming that one has the energy after engaging with all the other random people who pop up with their off the cuff tweets.
duerig
40 days ago
In addition to trying to think through how we build coalitions when our communication tools encourage shaming rather than nuane and a 'big tent', I have also been wondering how to deal with our many unclean legacies. Some traditions which we inherit are worthless and can be discarded out of hand, like social darwinism or eugenics. But many, from the ancient world, the Renaissance (humanism), the Enlightenment, and more are traditions that have value, they are a legacy from our ancestors that lifts us up. But they are also tainted with ideas and interests of their time which are clearly wrong. And even when they are couched in terms of universal truth, they fundamentally come from a perspective which we don't share and in many cases seee as anathema today. As in so many domains, they are our unclean legacy. And merely discarding the impure legacies also leaves us without their wisdom. And once you start discarding them, it is hard to stop. For no intellectual tradition is free from history and the perspectives that created it. So if we look back at humanism, what is the best way to deal with it? How can we take its wisdom without accepting its problems? And how do we form it into a better legacy for the future?
jepler
40 days ago
agree and cosign. I think you're particularly on target about the burden of educating people, even people who have started in a right thinking direction but aren't there yet. and yeah, everything else you said.
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