Gaslight [...]

From the Wikipedia article:

Gaslight is an American 1944 mystery-thriller film, adapted from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play Gas Light, about a woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into believing that she is going insane. The 1944 version was the second version to be filmed, following the British film Gaslight, directed by Thorold Dickinson and released in 1940. This 1944 version was directed by George Cukor and starred Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and 18-year-old Angela Lansbury in her screen debut. Gaslight had a larger scale and budget than the earlier film, and lends a different feel to the material. To avoid confusion with the first film, this version was originally given the title The Murder in Thornton Square in the UK.

"To gaslight" someone is to manipulate someone psychologically, making them feel as though they are losing their sanity.

The Stanford Expropriation Effect [...]

Anything that can be labeled or marketed as an ed-tech "innovation" will be claimed by or linked to Stanford, even if that claim is 1) tenuous, 2) partial, or 3) historically inaccurate.

Examples: MOOCs, computer-assisted instruction, the Open Syllabus Project

The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect [...]

From Michael Crichton:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward -- reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Redemptive Technologies [...]

From Ursula Franklin's The Real World of Technology:

... the development and use of redemptive technologies ought to be part of the shaping of a new social contract appropriate for the real world of technology, one that overcomes the present disenfranchisement of people.

The Luddite Problem [...]

"Luddite" as insult. "Luddite" as ahistoricism. "Luddite," depoliticized.

There is widespread ignorance about science and technology. For example, we have people with computer chips in their head right now, and it improves their life. Many of us have elderly members with cochlear implants, but most people don’t understand that these are computers hooked up to people’s brain, effectively… Sex change is a common thing nowadays, some surgery and hormone therapy does the trick. You do not need a vagina or even a penis to procreate… we have had in vitro fertilization since the 1970s… it is quite common today. People don’t understand the evolution of agriculture, they know little about pesticides… They don’t bother learning about the issues, they just want reassuring labels.

But ignorance only explains so much of the fear…

There is also a very strong Luddite agenda backed by what I call “nature worship”.


The "Luddite problem," I'd wager, is not knowing what the hell the term means other than this caricature. Ironically, "the Luddite problem" is precisely the "reassuring label" that Lemire decries here.

Drone Feminism [...]

> Silicon Valley tech feminism, in relation to the larger anti-violence movement, is connected with these same major military and weapons manufacturers. We are looking at a new frontier of the state, technology industry, military, and police intersecting and using feminism as a conduit to further the prison and military apparatuses. Lean In, which has dominated a framing of feminism in tech and increasingly in the mainstream, enjoys military and carceral ties both as partners and donors. Sandberg, author of the popular book and founder of the Lean In organization, was even tapped by the Marines as a consultant and advisor on gender issues.

This reflects an apolitical stance which uses feminism as the logic to justify expansion of empire. The accelerating of the carceral state as tied to the feminist movement continues to take an approach to gender-based violence issues that is about more policing and stricter laws, revolving around more prisons, harsher sentences, and more invasions. Yet somehow, there is no advocacy around getting emerging technologies in the direct hands of women; only advocacy for multi-nationals and the government to militarize and weaponize technologies that can be employed by white-male dominated complexes to further colonialism and imperialism under the guise of “saving” women.

Instead, why don’t we think about what women on the ground — both domestically and internationally — could do with these technologies? As much as the word “drone” invokes a particular context and, often, political/moral crisis, the technology, intrinsically, is not the problem. Instead, we must examine the larger system and structure deploying the technology, and specifically the application of feminism and tech as an excuse for imperialism.


Technological Imperialism [...]

Dan Romero on Twitter:

"Proprietary mapping" is, I suppose, one way to describe imperialism. It reduces imperialism to a technology and divorces it from politics, ethics, ideology.

How are these new "proprietary maps" dividing up the globe today? What is the role of the nation-state and what is the role of the multinational corporation in 21st century technological imperialism?

See also: Technology Imperialism, the Californian Ideology, and the Future of Higher Education

Big Data and OxyContin [...]

Purdue Pharma, authors of the current opiate and heroin epidemic in the U.S., created the problem by ignoring the "why" behind the numbers:


Boots on the ground was not the only stratagem employed by Purdue to increase sales for OxyContin. Long before the rise of big data, Purdue was compiling profiles of doctors and their prescribing habits into databases. These databases then organized the information based on location to indicate the spectrum of prescribing patterns in a given state or county. The idea was to pinpoint the doctors prescribing the most pain medication and target them for the company's marketing onslaught.

That the databases couldn't distinguish between doctors who were prescribing more pain meds because they were seeing more patients with chronic pain or were simply looser with their signatures didn't matter to Purdue. The Los Angeles Times reported that by 2002 Purdue Pharma had identified hundreds of doctors who were prescribing OxyContin recklessly, yet they did little about it. The same article notes that it wasn’t until June of 2013, at a drug dependency conference in San Diego, that the database was ever even discussed in public.

Combining the physician database with its expanded marketing, it would become one of Purdue's preeminent missions to make primary care doctors less judicious when it came to handing out OxyContin prescriptions. (Source)

The result? The largest drug epidemic in the history of the United States, one which has literally reversed declines in all-cause mortality in many demographics. See Opioids, Alcohol, Suicide

These figures actually don't cover the much larger effects from death by liver disease and suicide attributable to opioid abuse. (source)

Part of this is a warning about the morality of Big Data. But perhaps an even larger issue is the problem of data without theory. The reasons behind these trends mattered -- were these replacing other drugs due to efficacy or due to addiction? Were the super-prescribers more enlightened as to pain management or were they running cash for scripts businesses?

Marketing, in one sense, does not require answers to these issues; you use the correlations to make sales, and the why does not matter. But ethical marketing is a different matter.

There is little doubt the pharmaceutical industry is behind the current heroin epidemic. See 80% of Heroin Users Started with Painkillers, Opioid Increase 1997-2002

“Broken Windows” Policing [...]

Marking the resignation of NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton:

Throughout his career, Bratton has advocated for so-called “broken windows” policing, in which police crack down on minor crimes, such as riding a bike on the sidewalk, or dodging subway fees. The theory is that keeping neighborhoods orderly serves to deter more serious crime from taking root. Critics say broken windows policing leads officers to use excessive force and unfairly affects Americans of color. Bratton continues to defend the practice, telling NPR in 2015, “It’s what made this city safe in the first place.”


What is the equivalent of "broken windows" (policing) in ed-tech?

Technology as Practice [...]

From Ursula Franklin's The Real World of Technology:

Technology is not the sum of the artifacts, of the wheels and gears, of the rails and electronic transmitters. Technology is a system. It entails far more than its individual material components. Technology involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and most of all. a mindset.