This story documents the conversion of the social order from one based on people to one based on money (and especially the accumulation of masses of money). It's not something that just happened; it is the result of years of media pressure. "Yale economist Irving Fisher... arguing for why people needed to be treated as 'money-making machines,' ... explained how 'newspapers showed a strong aversion to the harrowing side of the tuberculosis campaign but were always ready to ‘sit up and take notice’ when the cost of tuberculosis in dollars and cents was mentioned.'" The conversion happened around 1850, concordant with the rise of capitalism. Prior to this conversion society valued "a collection of social indicators known then as 'moral statistics,' which quantified such phenomena as prostitution, incarceration, literacy, crime, education, insanity, pauperism, life expectancy, and disease."
I love YouTube but what I don't love are advertisements on YouTibe. That's because they convert the platform from being about user-generated content to commercial publication scams designed to game the system - or worse. This time I'm afraid it's worse. The starting point is this article on Mashable and describes cases where "you press play and at first your screen fills with recognizable cartoon characters and cheesy music — but things take a drastic turn when Elsa and Spider-Man arm themselves with automatic weapons." It's actually a lot worse than that. I watched a number of the videos from this channel (which also appears on YouTube for Kids) and found numerous violent and disturbing images. This is not amateur content; it is commercially produced and makes liberal use of things like superhero icons and Disney princesses. This is what happens when social media is converted into mass consumption: the abuse soon follows.
The big story here is "the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will step back from its traditional education reform agenda to instead invest close to $1.7 billion over the next five years on new initiatives that include a focus on building networks of schools." But as Stephen Krashen says in this short riposte, "The main problem in American education is not poor curricula, or lack of data. The problem is poverty." He's right. "While we can always improve, " he writes, "there is nothing seriously wrong with our schools and our teachers. Our overall scores are unspectacular because our rate of child poverty is so high, the highest among economically advanced countries." We know this. But poverty is exactly the problem the richest man in the world doesn't want to address.
I wisbh we could redefine 'success'. In the current world it has to do with mass - accumulating money, accumulating fame (or likes, or followers), accumulating possessions. This makes success scarce, and as Alastair Creelman says, "If success is so rare, then partial success or a lack of success are the norm." And it's often arbitrary. "Success often comes unexpectedly and cannot always be rationalised. Often it's simply about having the right idea at the right time and getting the right breaks." We need to rethink why we educate people this way. "Too much of our education system (and of course society in general) is based on competition and the inhuman belief in the survival of the fittest."
This is about right. "The web started as a text-based medium but has flipped into a new form of broadcast television... Social networks, though, have since colonized the web for television’s values." Not only that. Contrary to connections and organization, it is the mass that is valued in Facebook and Twitter. Harold Jarche writes, "In this ‘knowledge economy’ we all need to become even better at managing our knowledge and not wallow in a post-truth media surround. Mary Hamilton gives some good advice on how to deal with the new media world, after six years at The Guardian, listing 13 lessons learnt." He lists the lessons, and they make sense to me.
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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: email@example.comThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.