culture

Before becoming an administrator I was an “open-door storyteller” who authored a book on undergraduate media literacy. I dusted off my copy of the book after reading a Pacific Standard magazine article on media literacy for Generation Z. The author notes that we have a very tall task ahead of us. He closes with, “[u]shering the [media literacy for children] curriculum into the 21st century will demand of us—the adults—to undertake the educational equivalent of the Manhattan Project.” My book was very positive about the media literacy abilities of students, so I guess that if writing it today it would have a very different tone. Wow!

The website for The Guardian has a very interesting new entry in its “Walking the City” series: “The art of noticing: five ways to experience a city differently.” The article advises us to:

  1. Look for ghosts and ruins.
  2. Get there the hard way.
  3. Eat somewhere dubious.
  4. Read the plaque.
  5. Follow the quiet.

Awesome! I’ll have to follow all five steps the next time I’m in a new city…

Slate magazine has an interesting story about how the United States has not elected a president with previous experience as a city mayor in almost 100 years. Republican Calvin Coolidge was the last, serving as president from 1923 to 1929 after being mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts from 1910 to 1912. Several politicians who are or were mayors are currently vying for the Democratic nomination. It will be difficult for them to succeed, as “the sphere mayors operate in is largely subservient to state and federal government. Power resides with state and federal officials, who tend to take credit and deflect responsibility when it comes to urban affairs. A governor might score points for a tax cut, for example, but leave it to a mayor to figure out how to maintain after-school programs with less revenue.” Current national trends, however, are producing questions about cities and/or issues driven by urban life. “We may not get a president who ran one of the country’s cities, but at least, for a change, we’ll get to talk about them.” Indeed!

Today is Earth Day. CityLab has re-posted an interesting article from 2015, “How the First Earth Day Changed How We View Cities.” Check it out!

Pacific Standard magazine has a new series on understanding Generation Z. The intro to the series notes,

We hear a lot about how Gen Z represents a new kind of generation: digital natives drastically different even from Millennials, who already had the Boomers scratching their heads. Are they really any different? How have they been shaped by—and responded to—new technology, recent history, and a shifting economy?

This project—a collaboration between Pacific Standard and Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS)—draws on Stanford’s “Understanding iGen,” for which researchers did deep interviews with college students in the United States and the United Kingdom, while also drawing on behavioral data, consumer trends, and a series of surveys. Through publishing the results of these efforts, we hope to approximate a portrait of this generation, and an idea of where they’re leading us.

Each week, we’ll publish a new series of stories looking at a particular area of focus in our efforts, considered from different perspectives. Sign up for our daily newsletter to follow along and let us know your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Should be interesting…even though my generation — Generation X — was skipped in the intro; it seems that Gen X is the omitted generation.

A recent CityLab article is about how some cities are citing civil rights in efforts to ban cashless retail transactions. According to the article, “lawmakers behind [bills to ban the business practice of not accepting cash] across the country are concerned that the cashless trend discriminates against low-income residents and people of color, as communities of color have higher percentages of unbanked.” During testimony about a proposed ban in New York City, the deputy political director of the Retail Wholesale Department Store Union argues, “Cashless institutions encourage a FinTech Jim Crow by restricting the places where people of color can shop, eat, and receive basic services. By refusing to serve communities of color, cashless establishments carve out niches in gentrified neighborhoods through cash exclusion in an already unaffordable city.” The phrase “FinTech Jim Crow” caught my eye, and a google search only turned up only one additional article [from December, 2018]: “Why Cash-Free Cafes Are Discriminatory.” I’ll have to be on the lookout for additional references.

The Vox website has posted an article entitled “American segregation, mapped at day and night.” The subhead is very descriptive: “The racial makeup of neighborhoods changes during the workday. See how yours changes.” The article includes a video, infographics, and an interactive map to help readers explore the segregation of Asian, Black, Latinx, and White workers. It is quite informative!

The CityLab website has a provocative new article, “You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class.” The article’s sub-head: “Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.” An example: “[lower-income residents] preferred street-scale lighting to brighten the surface of cycle tracks. In contrast, tall highway cobra-head lights typically used on busy urban streets reach over the roadway, illuminating the road for drivers in vehicles that have headlights. In higher-income neighborhoods, cyclists might choose bike routes on side streets to avoid heavy traffic. However, people in our study felt that side streets with only residential buildings were less safe for cycling. This suggests that bicycle routes in lower-income ethnic-minority neighborhoods should be concentrated on main roads with commercial activity where more people are present.” Getting out to talk to folks from multiple backgrounds is important!

“It’s easy to look around a college campus and think – there’s no digital divide here,” begins a blog post on a new digital divide by sociologist Jessica Calarco. Despite the ubiquity of digital devices on today’s campuses, Calaraco argues that college students are still very much divided into haves and have nots: “the digital divide on college campuses has shifted from one of technology access to one of technology maintenance. [In a recent study] we [found] big gaps in the quality and reliability of the technology students own.” Inside Higher Education also has a story about new digital divide research of Professor Calarco and others.

 

Wired magazine is reporting that San Francisco, CA could become the first United States city to ban its agencies from using facial recognition technology. The article notes that for critics of facial recognition technology, “[i]n the hands of government…it enables all-too-easy access to real-time surveillance, especially given the availability of large databases of faces and names (think your driver’s license or LinkedIn).” The city’s Board of Supervisors is considering a new ordinance that would implement the ban. Additionally, “the ordinance would require city agencies to gain the board’s approval before buying new surveillance technology, putting the burden on city agencies to publicly explain why they want the tools as well as the potential harms. It would also require an audit of any existing surveillance tech—things like gunshot-detection systems, surveillance cameras, or automatic license plate readers—in use by the city; officials would have to report annually on how the technology was used, community complaints, and with whom they share the data.” There should be very spirited debate about this proposal!