Wellness & OER
Hello everyone. I first want to take a moment express my deepest wishes of health and wellness for each and every one of you. Salute, pace e gioia (health, peace and joy). Many of us have openly dialogued about this. It is ok to not be ok. You should not feel bad about not being ok. I write this for all of you and I write this as a reminder for myself too, because I am struggling with balancing life, anxiety, and responsibilities. I think that we have a tendency of getting down on ourselves. Don’t fall down that Rabbit Hole. There’s more than one door in the waters of the Titanic and it isn’t just between Jack’s or Rose’s survival. We are in this together. Please reach out to me or Patricia if you need anything. We are there to help you in any way as we muddle through this crazy little thing called life in Spring 2020.
Second, I wanted to reflect on Dr. Zamora’s and sava saheli singh’s talks today at the OER conference. We watched the film “Frames” together and had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. As I stated in my previous blog, the 11 minutes 11 seconds film is tense, dystopic and dark- it is a gut punch; however, it made me feel necessarily uncomfortable. Take a look at the the film again and you will see that there is an important clue that was revealed there with respect to an object that the frame did not immediately recognize as being part of the protagonist’s apartment (no spoilers). It was poignant and sad to learn about this in sava’s explication of the film.
Art has this power that the quotidian world does not always adequately capture. It hits you at a visceral level and makes you rethink things that you were really sure about. For example, as most of you have guessed, I am a big proponent of the free market economy. However, I am questioning things and this is essential, even though it makes me feel strange and on edge. That is where real understanding is born, as Dr. Zamora remarked today. I thank God for all of the wonderful artists who are holding up a mirror to society and showing us that we need to resist being autopsied to death (paradox)– that is dissected in vivo just to see how we function and predict our behaviors. This is all to allocate advertising dollars. It is isolating. We are literally drowning in a sea of people but we sometimes feel alone, right? And that was even before Covidia (yes, I am using a made up word for it, because the real world sets my teeth on edge on occasion) invaded our worldscapes.
Shut the Screen Door and Close the Phone
The title of my blog reflects my interpretation of the NRP/Ted podcast. I think that many of us have had this experience in our childhoods (at least I did). When I was a kid in the summer, I constantly left the screen door open, bashing it open and closed at will to play outside and grab drinks of water. My mother was incensed about this because of pesky flies and mosquitoes. “Chiudi (close) the screenah doorah,” she’d say in her Italian accent.
As indicated by the NPR podcast, we spend too much time on our phones and we are getting screen fatigue. It is essential to unplug and enjoy our lives, watch nature, and enjoy others (I look forward to simple IRL interactions again, I will never take a simple coffee meeting with my friends and family for granted). I also find it interesting that the podcast host resists algorithmization and data collection by apps, yet in an advertisement during the podcast, she was drumming up business for the makers of a smart toilet by Kohler. Now I love Kohler, it’s a great brand for fixtures, etc. but no thank you.
My entreaty to stay off screens begs the question: Due to Covidia, aren’t we being forced to be online? Yes! But let’s make it a creative time, a time for making art as Professor Levine and Dr. Zamora states. This could be a great opportunity to re-spark our connections with our artistic selves. Let’s also stay connected via our screens 🙂 It is a blessing that we have the ability to see and hear each other due to technology. We have to remember that while nearly ubiquitous, the Internet is not available to every single person.
Another important point is that online interaction literally frames you, collecting your data like a greedy scavenger. I appreciate the concepts espoused by the EU Commissioner who was interviewed on the podcast. She charged Google with a penalty of $5B due to privacy violations in accordance with the GDPR. That’s a great deterrent! The EU model is interesting and it could provide a methodology for an Internet Bill of Rights. I still think that it is important to balance privacy rights with free enterprise. However, I agree wholeheartedly that companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by FB), and Amazon have way too much power. This is the antithesis of competition which spurs diversity and entrepreneurship. Small businesses are being eroded because of Bezos’ immense power. It pains me that local bookstores have closed as well as Borders. Barnes and Noble, please stay open! Books and coffee give me life.
This is a direct reference to Edward Snowden’s part in the podcast interview. He does not understand the law. We do not have an absolute right to privacy– there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and guess what? That changes in accordance with case law, which evolves, as it should. Additionally, Edward Snowden did not use the proper channels for revealing that the NSA had cast too wide of a net in gathering information. He published sensitive documents on the Internet! That is a problem. He exposed us to attack from foreign enemies. Also, it bothers me that he asked for a pardon. You can’t get a pardon unless you’ve been through the proper judicial channels. Former Attorney General Eric Holder opined:
He’s broken the law in my view. He needs to get lawyers, come on back, and decide, see what he wants to do: Go to trial, try to cut a deal. I think there has to be a consequence for what he has done,” Holder said during Monday’s episode of ‘The Axe Files’ with former top Obama aide David Axelrod. “I think in deciding what an appropriate sentence should be, I think a judge could take into account the usefulness of having had that national debate.”https://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/white-house-obama-edward-snowden-223742
President Obama agrees with Holder. What Snowden did was not an exercise of freedom of speech/press. Freedom of speech is weighed against other concerns, such as national security, the latter of which takes precedence in certain instances.
We must remember that Edward Snowden was an NSA contractor. Although not a member of the NSA per se, he should not have published the NSA’s documents on the Internet, with everyone to find. Hacking is already a very real problem. National security and anti-terrorism measures are crucial. Do I think that the NSA cast way too large of a net in capturing all of our information? Absolutely. Is that wrong, yes. But publication of materials on the Internet was not the proper avenue to pursue. Moreover, change needs to come at a grassroots level, we have to put pressure on our Congress persons to enact stronger means of protection, which is something I believe Zuboff explained in the video embedded in Patricia’s presentation.
But of course, we are all free to make our own decisions re: Snowden. I’ve included two interesting TedEx talks:
I already anticipate what many of you are going to say, “old news.” It posit that it is still relevant. Additionally, I agree that algorithmization and constant monitoring has ramped up since then. Somehow we need to get together, put aside our political divisions (yes, that is extremely hard in this climate) and derive an Internet Bill of Rights. However, “we the people” are going to have to assert pressure on Congress. Change starts at the grassroots level, we need to take our global discussions to a micro level.