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Our eyes are drawn to meaning, not shiny objects
Andy Fell, Futurity, 2017/10/05


We're looking at something, a display in a classroom or video, say. "How do we decide where to direct our attention, without thinking about it?" Well, we don't 'decide', because that just is a cognitive process. But our attention is directed. To what? Bright and shiny things? Not so much. The right answer is 'salience', which in this article is depicted as 'meaningful'. Something is salient if it is important or connected to what is happening or being discussed (see a much deeper account of this in Stalnaker's Thesis in Context). Sadly the paper cited in this short article is behind a paywall, but you can find similar work by the same author in this paper on scan patterns. Of course, some of these principles have been old saws in graphic design for decades. See also here and here for the same content as repeated in Futurity (the original source is probably the publisher's marketing department).


Why Canada’s New Cultural Policy Will Be Terrible for the Arts
Ira Wells, The Walrus, 2017/10/05


I don't agree with this argument, but let's hear it out. The context is a recent Canadian government "$500 million deal with Netflix to establish a permanent production presence in this country." A lot of this money will end up in the pockets of Canadian aretists. So what's the problem? "It’s that it treats those artists as tech entrepreneurs. The ethos of Silicon Valley is encoded into the very dna of our new policy framework. Artists, says Creative Canada, are valued not for the art they produce but for 'playing a critical role in driving innovation.' The plan answers the call “for developing the business, technology and entrepreneurial skills of Canadian artists and creators... (but)  Creative Canada profoundly misunderstands the place of art and culture in our society. No lasting or meaningful monument of Canadian art will ever emerge from the desire to benefit the middle class.”

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Want Change In Education? Look Beyond The Usual Suspects (Like Finland)
Anya Kamenetz, NPR, Mind/Shift, 2017/10/05


I know Anya Kamenetz means well, but her examination of global initiatives to improve education collapses into a raft of tired rhetoric. It starts off well, identifying two major problems: first, too many children around the world are not learning the basics, and second, the basics are no longer sufficient to prepare us for a changing world. But after stating the problem, the clichés flow unabated: students need to "find motivation and meaning, and take a playful attitude that makes it safe to try and fail.... schooling is fundamentally a human enterprise... Change can’t just be a matter of mass-producing some technological marvel and pushing it to market... it has to be both/and... kids can learn small things on the way to big things... We’re not doing poor kids any favors by the drill-and-kill method... Leapfrogging isn’t about supplanting traditional schools...  the need to change how they do business... Identifying great ideas is one thing, but getting them to spread is another... they often don’t even know much about what the teacher down the hall is doing... thinking about new ways for teachers to collaborate and co-teach... We’re moving to a global world." Gak! Gak! Gak gak gak! No more, please!

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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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