read more2018-10-02Thoughtz

Craig New/Mark Zuckerberg

Both self-proclaimed nerds! Both creators of huge free platforms! Both want to connect humans to other humans!

Archive of video clips here.

~ deep fake:

~ deep fake:

read more2018-09-30Thoughtz

~Why Wi-Fi~ Part II

This is all being archived here: https://are.na/emma-rae-norton/why-wifi

The debate between me and a few luddites at the park slope food coop continues…

Another member responded:

WI-FI DEBATE

MEMBERS,

Emma Rae Norton’s original letter in the 8/2/18 Gazette seeking Wi-Fi in the Coop said in part:

“I went to the office to ask about the possibility of Wi-Fi and I received a hard NO without explanation. I am writing here to see if anyone can offer an explanation. I would be really interested to know” The thrust of her letter was the desire to stay connected to work.

This led to Janet Gottlieb’s response in the 8/30/18 Gazette:

“I, for one, don’t think the Coop should be expected to accommodate members who visit, not to shop, but to do personal and professional business unrelated to the Coop’s functions.”

This, in turn, led to Emma Rae Norton’s rejoinder in the 9/13/18 edition, framing her stance on the issue. In response to Gottlieb, Norton observed,

“Given the fast paced, high rent, and competitive city we live in, it is hard to imagine a world where a 2 hour and 45 minute shift can be done without the anxiety of getting back to work—a reminder that this is a Coop that exists in 2018…not 1970.”

I understand how she feels. But, in a way, that’s the very point of shedding the shuffle of all work—all the time. Part of the benefit of the Coop is that we can choose to give ourselves the gift of a shift without the shaft of the shrift. [Say that ten times without fum fering.]

As I watch my granddaughter’s attachment to her iPhone, I see a kind of compulsion. In my own business, people are enslaved to their devices. The tyranny of intrusion into every part of one’s waking life is exactly that.

One of the reasons for being here is not to return to the ‘70s but to experience what it is and be a part of it now. You miss out if you’re somewhere else. The world can spare you for 2 hours and 45 minutes. It’ll be fine. There’s a whole wonderful microcosm here.

Norton’s letter closes with: “The Coop, being a community, should consider all options when it comes to Wi-Fi because why not.”

I think the reason is obvious.



My most recent response:

First I would like to thank the editors for allowing this Wi-Fi stuff to be carried out here and for publishing my letters. Thank you!

What seemingly started out a financial issue has quickly turned into a preferences and politics issue. Can we bring it back to the numbers for a moment? It would be awesome to see a detailed estimate of costs.

Here are some things that people might benefit from with a Wi-Fi connection: ability to transfer money to a bank account, ability to check in on a babysitter, a school, an elderly parent, ability to see email from work or friends or family, ability to request a ride-share, these are all things that many people depend on day in and day out. The Coop should not be about creating a sacred space but about creating a shared space in which all needs are at least considered.

I would like to re-clarify that I am not interested in Wi-Fi so that I can be glued to my phone during my shift. I am not some sort of technology evangelist who wants robots to take over the cash registers and for everyone to always have their headphones in. I am not even interested in being able to check my twitter feed while waiting on line. With that said, I think that the responses so far to the issue of Wi-Fi completely negate the factors of choice and need.

The key word in Rodger’s letter from 9/27/18 is choose. Many times throughout my day I choose to disconnect from technology. In many situations, I often choose to be present and experience, as Rodger put it, “being a part of now”. I like to do this during my shift and feel lucky that I have been able to make the choice to buy food here.

I do not get to choose to disconnect at the Coop because there is no connection to disconnect from. The “tyranny” and “enslavement” that Rodger writes of, in my opinion, are overly extreme perspectives on technology. To assert what the world can and cannot spare me and that “it’ll be fine” is to assume too much!

If the Rodgers and Janets of the Coop would like to stay off the Internet while at the Coop then they should free to do so. If other members would like to connect then I strongly believe that they should also be able to make a choice to do so.

It would be great to hear more perspectives on this issue.

read more2018-09-20Thoughtz

Why Facebook is hiring grade schoolers to listen to your conversations

facebook-office

Mark Zuckerberg told Congress on April 11th 2018 that the only thing people don’t like more than ads are ads that aren’t relevant. In order to better serve their community Facebook is hiring children to listen to your converations so that the content on your feed is related to things you actually care about.

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 11.56.15 AM

Facebook has partnered with three elementary schools in Silicon Valley to beta test this new project. Essentially each student is asked to listen to sound bytes which are captured through smart phone microphones (so long as the user has their microphone enabled) and choose from a selection of relevant ad words based on what they are hearing…to be continued.

read more2018-09-06Thoughtz

~Why Wi-Fi~

Earlier this year I got rid of my ATT data plan and bought a dumb phone. The switch to a dumbphone hardly changed my day to day except that I no longer find myself scrolling and refreshing on a subway platform or on a sidewalk or at a dinner table. When I am not in transit or spending leisurly time somewhere in the city I am usually on my computer and connected to Wi-Fi.

My yellow Nokia 3310

This brings me to the point of this post: bringing Wi-Fi to the Park Slope Food Coop.

Photo of Park Slope Food Coop Newspaper - The Linewaiters' Gazette

I have been a member at the Coop since 2012. It is one of the oldest and largest food coops in the country. Every month each member is required to fulfill a 2hr 45min work shift. Before I continue I would like to say that I take no issue with the structure of the coop because it works! When it comes to quality and price it is by far one the best markets. However, I did recently learn that the Coop does not offer WiFi and it is seemingly not up for discussion.

I wrote a letter to the Coop’s newspaper regarding this issue:

Dear CoOp,

Why is there no WiFi? I believe that access to the internet is a right. A community space, budget allowing, should always offer free WiFi.

Why should there be WiFi? Not everyone has an unlimited data plan. Not everyone has access to WiFi at home. I wonder how many people are expected to answer to work emails and messages while working or shopping at the CoOp. It would be great to count on the CoOp, a space that we all put a lot of time and energy into, for access to WiFi. In turn WiFi will give members access to their extended community, their place of work, car sharing services like Car2Go, the list goes on! Most obviously members can freely access all kinds of information!

Internet service doesn’t have to come from the big dogs either! Community owned wifi, using mesh networking technology, is a possibility we should consider!

I went to the office to ask about the possibility of WiFi and I received a hard NO without explanation. I am writing here to see if anyone can offer an explanation. I would be really interested to know.

This letter is a question, not a demand. I am simply looking for more information and people who are also interested in bringing WiFi to the members of the CoOp.

The Coop promptly responded:

DEAR EMMA RAE,

You have raised an excellent topic regarding the possibility of free Wi-Fi at the Coop. The primary reason the Coop has not provided this is cost, which we estimate would be at least $30,000 for initial setup, and recurring annual expenses of at least $28,000. In our fiscal year 2018, our net income was $38,006. As your letter acknowledged, budgets may not always allow for provision of things like Wi-Fi, and we are very focused on low prices. With gross margins that are less than half of other large food coops, Park Slope Food Coop members save on groceries every time they shop. In addition, our recent IT spending and the time and attention of our paid IT staff has favored business-critical projects, such as updating our inventory system, as well as projects to meet sustained member requests, like providing additional web-based services to members. Check out our other new Member Services at foodcoop.com!

Two issues later another member responded:

TO THE EDITORS,

A further response to Emma Rae’s letter to the Gazette of 8/2/2018, seeking Wi-Fi at the Coop. General Coordinator Stephanie Lee has responded that Wi-Fi would be too costly for the Coop. In my opinion, even if cost were no object, Wi-Fi is not a good idea for us. Working members with data plans already spend excessive time staring at their phones when they should be. . .working. Shopping members using phones clog the aisles without regard for their surroundings. Can you imagine what it would be like if there were Wi-Fi? I, for one, don’t think the Coop should be expected to accommodate members who visit, not to shop, but to do personal and professional business unrelated to the Coop’s functions. Members whose employers expect them on call should have devices with data plans provided by said employers, and all the other miscellaneous tasks requiring Internet service can be done at the library. Because the Coop is a community but isn’t a community center.

Here is my most recent response:

Dear Editors and Members,

In response to the letter from the 8/30/18 issue: Yes, I agree. Many people are glued to their phones while shopping at the Coop. And yes, this can be frustrating. However, we cannot blame Internet access itself for members spending excessive time on their phones. We could blame the extra-large corporations which profit off the attention economy we all now live in. We could blame the 24-hour work-email cycle. We could even blame the food blogs that list ingredients you could only find at the Coop! It would be misguided to put the blame on access. 

To suggest that members who need to be available for work should get data plans from their employers is an unrealistic idea. Given the fast-paced, high-rent, and competitive city we live in it is hard to imagine a world where a 2 hour and 45 minute shift can be done without the anxiety of getting back to work - a reminder that this is a Coop that exists in 2018…not 1970.

It goes without saying that most everything we need has been transferred in some form onto the Internet. Work. Healthcare. Transportation. All of these things that many people depend on can often be accessed over a simple Wi-Fi connection. To ignore this reality is to ensure that the digital divide stays divided. What I’m reading in the last response to my letter is this: You have a data plan? You get to be at the Coop and use the Internet. No data plan? Tough luck. I take issue with this stance as it seems to ignore the fact that data plans come at a price. It is to put a fiscal responsibility on the members where there might otherwise be room for free and open access.

Concerning numbers: I am not sure where the estimate cost of $28,000 a year came from but I believe this number could be drastically reduced with the introduction of a mesh network. A mesh network is also known as a community network and is very similar in structure to a Coop. There are a bunch of wireless routers (members) which all simultaneously connect to each other (shifts) in order to cooperatively distribute data (food) between devices (food suppliers) and the Internet itself (the Coop community).

Finally, I would like to clarify that in my original letter I was by no means implying that members carry out personal or professional work on Coop time. What I was inquiring about was access. This could mean ability to get a ride share, quickly respond to a message, get directions to another location, download a recipe, the list goes on. This is not exclusively a work issue or a member issue, this is an accessibility issue. The Coop, being a community, should consider all options when it comes to Wi-Fi because why not?

read more2018-09-03Thoughtz

Hello...

Dog with cans of PBR

This is the first post of my new blog at ITP. I will use this blog to document, think, and respond to everything I do at ITP at least until I graduate in 2020. Hopefully I will have built up enough of a documentation + writing practice that I will continue to do so long after school. Right now I’m thinking about what the internet looks like, why free wifi is important…or not important, when will I actually start to remember the names of everyone at ITP, how does the physical structure of the internet inform our use of it.

As far as this blog goes, I need to add a few things:

  • categories
  • markdown styling
  • video support

For categories I’m thinking:

  • Dynamically generate page per top level category, i.e. Physical Computing, Faking The News
  • Default page of posts to publish order but add sub level category menu for alt displays.

I chose to use a boiler plate I’ve been working on to build this blog. The back end uses Contentful. The front end is built in React JS using Gatsby JS. The site is hosted on Netlify. It costs $0!

Oh and…I chose the domain name spaghettimeatballsbecomereallyfrightening.online because of this image which I learned about in this book:

spaghetti meatballs become really frightening - source unknown