Slow Tech and ICT – A Responsible, Sustainable and Ethical Approach

“Dear Readers, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is disrupting people’s lives.” This is the way the authors introduce the book: no space for any misinterpretation, the message is strong and clear. But they are not luddites or techno-sceptics: they propose a deep reflection on the design and the use of human centred ICT. The authors propose an approach to ICT that is responsible, sustainable and ethical or in other words, good, clean and fair. They recognise inspirational thinkers, such as Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement that counters the rise of fast food and fast life and focuses on the relationship between food and environment, Alexander Langer with his reflection on a new concept of well-being, based on a lifestyle that is slower, deeper and sweeter and the need for ecological change that can take place only if it becomes socially desirable and René von Schomberg who as an EU policy maker, works for responsible innovation that is socially desirable, inclusive and environmentally sustainable. ICT is good if it puts human beings in the centre starting from their needs and using an interdisciplinary approach whereby humanist and technologist work together. It is clean if the impact on the environment is taken into account, namely the scarcity of rare-earth metal, the energy consumptions of cloud mega centres and the recycling of e-waste. Finally, it is fairif human rights and the health and the safety of workers are respected throughout the value chain. Also for education, good ICT is important: the web provides huge opportunities to improve access to knowledge, but it’s important that teachers help students to cultivate a deeper way of writing and speaking and to become able to interact with complex structures, in terms of language and thinking. Human beings need time to think, meditate and argue: to be in an ‘always-on input mode’ can lead to them becoming passive targets of messages and easily manipulated. This book is published by Palgrave Macmillan with ISBN: 978-3-319-68943-

Lingua, Coding e Creatività (recensione libro)

Ho conosciuto Stefano Penge   l’anno scorso grazie a Rodolfo Marchisio che ci ha coinvolti entrambi in un evento formativo per l’Associazione Gessetti Colorati di Reginaldo Palermo, sul tema coding a scuola. Le nostre posizioni sono  distanti:  l’Associazione DSchola, di cui sono direttrice,   dal 2012 promuove attivita’ sul coding e  Scratch, organizza un festival nazionale addirittura aperto alle superiori e con premi per i vincitori, organizza corsi per bambini delle elementari e per docenti di sostegno:  insomma tutto quello che  Stefano (e molti altri esperti come lui) discute e analizza, soprattutto per proporre alternative.  Sono incuriosita dalle riflessioni sul tema della programmazione come narrazione  e quando Stefano mi ha proposto di collaborare alla sua idea di mostra del coding, ho accettato con interesse.   

Questa è la mia recensione del libro “Lingua, Coding e Creatività”  di Stefano Penge. 

Attraverso la lingua ci rapportiamo al mondo: è uno strumento che prescinde da noi stessi, che ci permette di conoscere gli altri, scoprendo cosa ci unisce e cosa di differenzia. Continue reading “Lingua, Coding e Creatività (recensione libro)”

SocialBots and Their Friends – Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality

“Bots are the new apps” said the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, in 2016. His vision about the way humans will interact with machine was “conversation as a platform”, in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) allow computers to be able to interact with people, using the most natural human interface, language. Many users of the Internet are aware of bots: automated programs that work behind the scenes to come up with search suggestions, check the weather, filter emails, or clean up Wikipedia entries. More recently, a new software robot has been making its presence felt in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter – the socialbot. This volume is one of the first academic collections to critically consider the socialbot. Socialbots are programs that act on the basis of a fake identity within social media, where they try to influence opinion-making processes. The question as to how effective they are in manipulating opinions and whether and how law-makers should react to them has been a subject of quite some dispute among the authorities. Many aspects are discussed in the contributions contained in the book including mandatory registration for socialbots as well as an intensified engagement within media education in order to counter the potential manipulation of opinion. Furthermore many other scenarios are possible; what about having the assistance of one or more handsome socialbots as virtual influential Facebook friends who boost our social value by liking our picture or making cute comments on our status? ‘Socialbots and Their Friends: Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality’ is one of the first academic collections to critically consider the socialbot and tackle these pressing questions. This book is published by Routledge, ISBN 978-1-1386-3940-9

The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age

The Class explores how school and learning, home and family, and peer groups impact and shape children’s use of digital media. The two authors followed a class of London teenagers for a year to find out more about how they are, or in some cases are not, connecting online. What is the meaning of learning? What are the objectives of the school and education? What is the relationship between these three aspects of knowledge management? What matters about digital technologies and young people? What is the role of the school in the daily lives of teenagers today? This book “The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age” answers these questions through an ethnographic analysis lasting a full year, following a whole class of students aged between 12 and 13 in a public secondary school in the suburbs of London, inside and outside the school. The book starts from the authors’ theoretical perspectives on learning along with the questionsthey put forward, it describes the methodology used and finally provides a description of what living and learning means for these students. It describes the connections, and in particular the disconnections that exist between the three worlds in which young people live: school, family and friends. Daily life in late modernity means we have to constantly reconcile our somewhat ambivalent approaches to socio-technical changes that can be both a threat and a promise. In this society, we are increasingly allowed to make decisions which do not provide any more certainty but which push individualism in a constant drive towards enhancing our prestige and sense of success. Parents are more anxious, spend more time at work and less time with the family, the kids are happy at home even if they are more worried than ever about their future. The school still represents a specific context of agreements, rules and expectations, but which does not necessarily define what it means to be educated. Access to education is provided and valued for its economic benefits to the individual and the economy. The school promotes individual competition and the growth of good citizens, who are both capable of self-control and self-regulation. Students have to find their own motivations in this increasingly individualised risk society. Looking at the students inside and outside the classroom, interviewing families, visiting their homes, watching them when they spend time with their friends, the research team highlights how separate these different worlds are and how intentional this separation is. Teachers fear that kids bring to class tensions that exist in the family, and families do not seem interested in understanding what students do in the classroom or with their computer. Life shared with friends is an area of freedom, a space for self beyond the control of family and school: this social space is out of the control of adults. Families have learned to live together separately and the walls of the houses are no longer the border with the outside world. Families are constantly under pressure to find a compromise between internal warmth and respect and the need for growth and openness to the external world of their young people. The authors’ conclusions are described through the case of an annual school competition which summarises the tensions and pressures of a whole year. One positive note on what they observed; the increased uncertainty regarding privacy in communications has made young people value face-toface interactions even more than before. The book is freely accessible here

Lettura collaborativa e libri invertebrati

L’ibridazione fra carta e digitale, ogni giorno si arricchisce di nuove forme. La community italiana dei bibliofili non può che gioire dell’accordo fra Anobii e IBS, che garantirà forse la sopravvivenza della community. LibraryThing ogni giorno ne inventa una nuova… dopo l’early review (recensioni in cambio di libri) governata dagli editori, ora anche i singoli autori possono usare LT per regalare libri in cambio di recensioni; un’altra chicca divertente è la possibilità di sapere se nella nostra libreria ci sono volumi che sono stati amati da personaggi famosi, da Kafka a Marylin Monroe: se ne occupa il gruppo I See Dead People’s Books.

Grazie al post di Fred Cavazza,  Mes 3 sites ‘coup de cœur’ (bis) ho scoperto il sito per i lettori ghiottoni, Bookglutton: non serve a catalogare la propria libreria ma a leggere insieme, annotando passaggi e discutendo singoli paragrafi. Sul sito sono disponibili alcuni testi classici (L’arte della guerra, Alice nel paese delle meraviglie) e non; gli iscritti ne possono caricare altri, fino a un massimo di 5, a patto che siano in formato EPUB (o altro) e non protetti (NO DRM). A parte il divertimento, non è difficile immaginare le potenzialità didattiche che quest’idea potrebbe avere.

Su Knol, la wikipedia di Google, Marco Guastavigna e Marina Boscaino stanno scrivendo di come cambia il lettore, che hanno ribattezzato e-lector: si può commentare e discuterne con loro.

Attrspinelessaverso BookGlutton, sono arrivata a Spineless Book, una casa editrice fondata nel 2002, che produce e distribuisce letteratura elettronica, con particolare attenzione alla scrittura collaborativa, alla sperimentazione formale, e al pensiero utopico.

E se il futuro dei libri vi sta a cuore, non potete perdere  quest’articolo: Google & the future of books. pubblicato sul New York Rewiew of Books, a firma di Robert Darton, prof. di Harvard, esperto di storia dei libri nonché bibliotecario. L’articolo è molto lungo ed è difficile da sintetizzare: dalla teoria della Repubblica delle Lettere, diffusa nel 18 secolo, che postulava un mondo senza confini e ineguaglianze dove la conoscenza poteva circolare liberamente si passa all’analisi degli epistolari come mezzo di diffusione della conoscenza e alla descrizione della sopracitata Repubblica, in realtà un mondo chiuso e inacessibile ai più, passando per il  ruolo delle biblioteche, viste come centri di potere si arriva infine alle luci e alle ombre dell’iniziativa di Google di digitalizzazione di libri.
Merita davvero una lettura, e forse una traduzione…