23 September 2013

"All over the world, smart citizens take action."

From the smart folks at the Waag Society - institutue of art, science & technology...

 Excerpt from A Manifesto for Smart Citizens...

Smart Citizens:

 •Will take responsibility for the place they live, work and love in;
 •Value access over ownership, contribution over power;
 •Will ask forgiveness, not permission;
 •Know where they can get the tools, knowledge and support they need;
 •Value empathy, dialogue and trust; •Appropriate technology, rather than accept it as is;
 •Will help the people that struggle with smart stuff;
 •Ask questions, then more questions, before they come up with answers;
 •Actively take part in design efforts to come up with better solutions;
 •Work agile, prototype early, test quickly and know when to start over;
 •Will not stop in the face of seemingly huge boundaries/barriers;
 •Unremittingly share their knowledge and their learning, because they know this is where true value comes from.

EPA's Village Green prototype

The EPA's "Village Green" project aims to "increase air pollution monitoring capabilities in communities" in order to provide "real-time air pollution measurements at lower cost and maintenance." 

Data arrives minute-by-minute from a prototype solar-powered air pollution monitor located near the Durham County Library South Regional Branch in Durham, North Carolina.

National proliferation of such localized metrics would allow for communities to better understand their unique impacts and the benefits of clean air for all.

06 September 2013

Some Terms from Human Geography and Social Science

Just a few terms from the Dictionary of Human Geography and the Online Dictionary of Social Sciences. Words in all caps indicate terms that are found elsewhere in that particular dictionary. References are not provided here for work cited in the dictionary's entry (e.g., Giddens, Thrift, Cooley, Meade).

Abduction: A form of reasoning that takes accepted knowledge and infers the 'best available' explanations for what is observed. Whereas DEDUCTION formally infers the consequences of a cause-and-effect relationship (if a, then b), and INDUCTION infers a conclusion from a number of observations (of the same pattern, for example), abductive reasoning infers relationships from observations rather than asserting them. It thus presents a 'provisional' account for what has been observed (for why a is related to b), either inviting further empirical investigation that might sustain the 'explanation' or encouraging deductive work that might put the putative causal chain on a former footing. (from Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th ed.)

Locale: A setting or context for social interaction, typically involving co-present actors. In STRUCTURATION THEORY (Giddens, 1979, 1984), locales provide the resources on which actors draw. Different kinds of collectives are associated with characteristic locales (Giddens, 1981, p. 39): the locale of the school is the classroom; that of the army, the barracks; and so on. Despite his emphasis on co-presence, Giddens (1984, p. 118) also suggests that locales may range 'from a room in a house... to the territorially demarcated areas occupied by nation states': as Thrift (1983) emphasizes, 'a locale does not have to be local'. (from Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th ed.)

Looking Glass Self:  Developed by C.H. Cooley (1864-1929) to describe the social nature of the self and the link between society and individual. In this formulation social interaction is like a mirror, it allows us to see ourselves as others see us. This was an early formulation of symbolic interactionism but less influential than that of George Herbert Mead. (from Online Dictionary of Social Sciences)

Pluralism: Has three principal meanings in the social sciences. First, it is a model of politics where power is assumed to be widely dispersed to different individuals and interest groups within a society thus ensuring that political processes will be relatively open and democratic and will reflect a spectrum of social interests rather than the domination of particular groups. Second, it describes a society where individual and group differences are present and are celebrated as enriching the social fabric. Canada's policy of multiculturalism reflects pluralist values. Third, it is a view of the causation of social phenomena, especially of social change, that examines the interaction of a variety of factors rather than relying on a single explanatory cause. For example, Max Weber in stressing the importance of cultural as well as material forces in creating change within a society offers a more pluralistic framework for explanation than the more exclusively materialist approach of Marx. (from Online Dictionary of Social Sciences)

Symbolic Interactionism: A sociological perspective that stresses the way societies are created through the interactions of individuals. Unlike both the consensus (structural functionalist) and conflict perspectives, it does not stress the idea of a social system possessing structure and regularity, but focuses on the way that individuals, through their interpretations of social situations and behavioural negotiation with others, give meaning to social interaction. George H. Mead (1863-1931), a founder of symbolic interactionism, saw interaction as creating and recreating the patterns and structures that bring society to life, but more recently there has been a tendency to argue that society has no objective reality aside from individual interaction. This latter view has been criticized for ignoring the role of culture and social structure in giving shape, direction and meaning to social interaction. (from Online Dictionary of Social Sciences).

05 September 2013

Perspectives on place are subject to change

Sense of place varies from person to person and group to group. This should go without saying. But it's worth remembering that place meanings are dynamic, contested, and subject to change over time. What one group values highly another may not care about at all.

Epistemological pluralism is one way to describe it. But there's a lot of syllables in them there words. Another way to think of it is in terms of Mile's Law: Where you stand depends on where you sit.

The ways in which one person or group values something is deeply entwined with history and cultural perspective.

A story from Indian Country Today media network demonstrates this. It shines a light on an icon most Americans take for granted: Mount Rushmore. Before it was the powerfully symbolic Mount Rushmore it was the powerfully symbolic Six Grandfathers. What was once revered by the Sioux has since been desecrated and turned into something that is currently revered by most Americans.

And, someday, it will change again.